He’s a young lad this one. Wet behind the ruddy ears. He’s probably only got that sword recently. It might have been a birthday present. Of course, I don’t know much about swordsmanship, but looking at his hands, I don’t reckon he has much of a proper grip on it neither.
And look at his ruddy haircut! That’s not a swordsman’s haircut. He isn’t dressed like a swordsman either. With that lilac tunic over a yellow shirt and his bright red boots over pea green tights, he would be better off somewhere where he would have a chance of turning the lasses’ heads, rather than messing about with that ruddy sword in a windswept field. He just doesn’t look right with it. does he.
The ruddy problem is that the world is full of young fellers like him. Young lads full of big ideas that they haven’t thought through properly. Lads like that are ripe for the picking of older men. Men who have thought their ideas through and don’t give a damn about the ruddy consequences. Men with wickedness in their hearts. As well as men who sell ruddy swords.
The next time you hear on the news about some young feller who has sacrificed his life for some ideal, think about the Page of Swords. Despite the stupid haircut he is a good looking young man. And good looking young men will insist on having stupid haircuts, won’t they. I wonder if his mother knows about that sword? I bet his ruddy father does. Somebody has got it into his head that it is better to spend his time with swords than with his family, with lasses, and with people who love him.
There are plenty of young lads like him around today. Strapping ruddy dynamite to their chests or buggering off to fight battles in foreign countries. Or just generally looking for some excuse to use weapons on other people. And those wicked older men are always around to tell them who to turn their weapons on, encourage them with praise and big idealist excuses for doing it. But all they end up doing is breaking their mothers hearts, and the hearts of the mothers of the people that they ruddy well kill.
Four things that you might do this week. (i) Take all the weapons out of the toy box of any kiddies that you know, and swap them for some useful toys. A microscope, a stethoscope, a paint box. The world needs more scientists, doctors and artists, we don’t need ruddy soldiers. (ii) The same goes for ruddy computer games an’all. Try and give them something better to do than trying to blow people to smithereens. Nobody deserves to be blown to smithereens. And nobody is born with the natural desire to blow anyone to smithereens either? But the more often kiddies play at blowing people to smithereens in ruddy computer games, the more easily they can be persuaded to do it to people for real. (iii) try not to roll your eyes and tut the next time you see a young lad with a stupid haircut. They like their stupid haircuts, and if you roll your eyes and tut it makes them hate you and anyone like you, as well as making them more determined to persevere with their stupid ruddy haircuts. (iv) if you do know any young, impressionable lads (and all young lads are impressionable, let them know that you love them, and that you don’t hold with violence.
Whenever there’s a burial, there’s a birth. That’s what my mother used to say any road. ‘Course, she never understood about population explosions and stuff like that, but any road, there was a bit of truth in what she said. It wasn’t long after My Raymond died that April May’s daughter, Pam, had a daughter of her own, Louise. And then, in ’93, shortly after they found Raymond’s brother John, dead on the couch, surrounded by empty cans of strong lager, empty paracetamol packets and filthy magazines, our Michael’s girlfriend had another one. And they called him John. Which was a bit perverse in my opinion. I didn’t see anything wrong with Raymond. “Ohh it’s not after uncle John” he said to me, all sincerity and smiles, “it’s after the king!” I didn’t think much to that idea either, we all know what happened to him – poisoned by a disgruntled monk! Besides, knowing our Michael, he was more likely to have named the lad after Johnny Ruddy Rotten or somebody. Never mind. The next generation was here to stay, even as the old one was dying off.
When I was really young, it seemed like the old people that I knew had always been old. I had never known them any different. My Grandparents had always been bent, wrinkled and slow. They had always had watery eyes and smelled a bit funny. It was too difficult to imagine otherwise. Now I was old, wrinkled and bent, I probably had watery eyes and smelled a bit funny too, if the truth be known. But I enjoyed being around those kiddies. And I knew that I hadn’t got all that long left, and that, like the old people I knew in my youth, I would not see them at any other stage in their lives apart from childhood. (I now know that I knew wrong, because if can still watch them grow, and get involved to a certain extent, from the other side, but that’s beside the point) they would always be children to me. And that affected how I dealt with kiddies in general. I could sneak them sweets, and swear at them under my breath. If it turned them into foul mouthed grown ups with bad teeth, it was no skin off my nose. Besides, if that was a good enough adulthood for me, it was good enough for them. I most kiddies turned their noses up at barley sugars any road, probably because they didn’t come in bright packaging with a cartoon character off the telly on it. Louise and John were too young for sweets anyway. So I just contented myself with cuddling them, poking them with my bony old fingers and calling them little buggers. Looking at them now, I don’t think that I did them all that much harm.
I never spent too long with them though. I was finding it hard to catch my breath most of the time, and i couldn’t stay out long without having to go home for a lie down.
Besides, I had my little Mademoiselle Tuppence to think about. I used to leave her at home when I went visiting, because she wasn’t all that good with kiddies. “You can come over if you like” my Michael used to say, ” but don’t go getting your Tuppence out and frightening the kids.” So I used to wait until I got home, then lie on the bed and give her a good stroking.
Auntie Doris’s top pop hit of 1993: “Young at Heart” by the Bluebells. It sounded good. But I don’t think I was young at heart any more by then. I was tired. And I was happy to leave youthfulness to young people. The buggers.