I grew up in Bourne back in the days when it had a population of a mere six thousand benighted souls. It was a violent place especially for an outsider. On my first day at school, aged four, I came out of the classroom and watched the other boys run across the playground egged on by a particularly loathsome specimen who, surprisingly enough could not play the banjo. One after another they jumped up and grabbed the top of the wall, trying to pull themselves up onto the top. Nobody succeeded. Somehow I don’t think that was the point.
In the afternoon the girl next to me said, “Do this” and she slid from her chair landing on her knees. Well. Imagine the embarrassment of not even being able to do what she had just demonstrated she was willing to do. The teacher’s back was turned so okay, there I went…
…and screamed like a little piggy because she had placed a drawing pin point up just where it would go into my four year old knee. There was my weakness revealed for all to see. Bad enough that my dad was not from around there and had thick kinky hair, but now on my first day, I’d cried. Oops.
There was only one way to get back. The next day, I too jumped up at the wall to try to get up on top. I was close, so close until the non banjo player pulled hard on my feet, dragging me from the wall and letting me fall five feet onto my head.
Then I won an art competition and guess what I won? That’s right. A doll. I was well and truly screwed.
That’s how Bourne was for the first eighteen years of my life. Somewhat less to be honest because I learned that I didn’t have to walk home through the town but down Willoughby Road, and then via Tunnel Bank Road and Spalding Road, I could avoid the town and get home in time to watch the News.
After that, I lost but the damage was done. I told myself the only way I would return was driving a Soviet tank at the head of a red army column. Well the Soviet Union’s gone but if I win the lottery, I’m opening a leper colony in the Market Place..