Stuff I Did When I Was A Kid That I Am Now Ashamed Of
There's nothing glorious about childhood. People like to talk about it like there is, but there isn't. In fact, in my opinion, childhoods exist solely to provide a few years for people to make mistakes in. And that's the opposite of glorious.
Take these five guys for instance. They might have started the fire that brought the big road that connects the south of England to the north of England to a standstill for six days last month. They might not have done. The important thing to remember here is that they're kids, so it doesn't even matter. You're allowed to make mistakes when you're a kid. Frankly I'm surprised the police even bothered arresting them at all.
But just because childhood gives you a 16-year idiot pass, doesn't mean you can turn the guilt reflex off. If ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead taught me anything when I was 15 years old, it was that you don't get mistakes without regrets. So I decided to get some stuff off my chest now that I can't be prosecuted for it.
TEASING THE CANCER PATIENT ABOUT HIS TROUSERS
One of the cases of bitter, lame school day bullying that I try not to remember. When I was about thirteen I rounded on some skinny, unpopular kid who was wearing these tight trousers. I took the piss out of him and them, loudly, and cruely, attracting a crowd, who then joined in. About a month later the poor kid was dead from cancer.
Ironically, his trousers – skinny as they were – would probably have been about a thousand times less mockable now than the baggy shitshows I was probably wearing.
MAKING DEAN EAT COINS
Ever seen The Lawnmower Man? Ever notice how everyone in it is either stupid, cruel or a slut? My school life was a lot like that film. There were a lot of strange kids, but Dean was the shed-dwelling, orb-riding, brain-mowing, priest-burning Jobe of our school playground. People didn't treat him right. He was a 'bad luck kid'. His dad forced him to get the England flag tattooed on his thigh when he was 13 years old, and his brother was born without an arsehole. (This is true BTW). He refused to communicate with anyone at all during lesson-time, but somehow always found a couple of crocodile clips and a 12-volt battery to hook his face up to.
One day my friends and I convinced him to eat coins – an idiot's banquet of coppers, 5s and 20s, and then one glimmering 50p piece that he threw up in the air and let bounce into his mouth off his forehead. Later that day, Dean asked out a girl I liked ten minutes before I did and she said yes. When the lunch bell rang at midday, I didn't have any money left for food. I'm convinced that these events wouldn't have occurred without karma's interference, and I'm not one to mess with an invisible, cyclical type of justice that people seem happy to accept is carried on the wind. So sorry Dean, hope you're still alive somewhere physical and not just an electrical current forever traversing the pathways of some solipsistic virtual reality.
"THE INVISIBLE ROPE TRICK" ON THE CARS THAT MADE THEM CRASH
This is pretty standard teenage fare – a few guys stand either side of the road facing each other as if they're holding a rope, then walk backwards to "tighten" it when traffic approaches – and I imagine it's pretty standard for cars to crash into each other, too. Brakes screech, rear lights smash, kids run off whooping with joy. It's a sequence of noises that probably plays out a few hundred times per second across the globe, but that's not to say I don't feel bad about it. It only ranks about a six on the guilt factor, mostly because (as far as I know) it didn't involve a great deal of pain and/or profound sexual humiliation.
ATTEMPTING TO DISPOSE OF INTERNET PORN PRINTOUTS DOWN THE SHOWER PLUG
Being a child turns things that, to an adult, would merely be idiotic and inconvenient, into full-blown Freudian psychodramas that have you momentarily seeing suicide as an escape hatch. When I took those jpg printouts into the shower with me, I wasn't doing it to hurt anyone. But that argument held little weight when it came to dinner time, and my sisters asked me why mother had made me spend the last two hours on my hands and knees with a plunger sucking tattered scraps of softcore tit out of the plughole.
CONVINCING MY SISTER I'D BEEN HIT BY A CAR AND WAS NOW A GHOST
As a disclaimer to all of this dumb shit, I'd like to say that I hardly ever acted out of malice. Most of the stuff I feel guilty about doing only exists because of boredom. One sunny day in Vauxhall, I was very young and very bored. Having eaten my fill of insects, I decided to tell my little sister that I had been hit by a car a week ago and that I was actually a ghost. I then made her promise not to disclose this information to a soul or I would drift away forever into a transparent netherworld.
She cried non-stop for hours, but to her endless credit she wouldn't tell my mother why. In retrospect, I feel genuinely tearful to think of her so upset, but you can't knock my ruse's efficacy. Even at a young age it seems, I had a knack for cultivating an air of shameful self-loathing around myself that would be a loyal companion until I turned 16 and started drinking heavily enough to blot out the guilt.