The Bubblegum Chronicles . ( grab two ) .
The equatorial circumference of planet Earth is 24,903 miles , give or take a yard or two . Fact . The Earth spins on it's own axis at a tad over 1,000 miles per hour as it travels through space . That's a fact too . I know these things because Graeme who lived over the road told me . We were eleven years old at the time . Graeme told me lots of things like that , on an almost daily basis . I used to relay all this information to my mother , who was and still is a devout catholic , and she said that Graeme was a fountain of information and had been blessed by the Lord . That caused a certain amount of consternation on my part , mainly because I wanted to be blessed by the Lord too . Why Graeme was blessed is beyond me , I mean his dad was a bread van driver for goodness sake , although his mother did sing in the church choir , very loudly and enthusiastically I might add . My mother said my time would come . I am still waiting , patiently .
Anyway , one day me and the blessed Graeme were hunting in the hedgerows that bordered our houses , searching for hedgehogs and stuff , like you do , when I found a large pair of old underpants . We both looked at them for a few seconds and then Graeme said , in a very off-the-cuff and nonchalent manner , that they had probably belonged to a Pedafilabater , and that the said Pedafilabater had probably hidden them there and then forgotten about them .
Now , you can call me an excitable eleven year old if you want , but when Graeme said that word I nearly dropped my pointy stick in astonishment . I had never heard such a glamerous word in all my life , it even beat the time on Blue Peter when John Noakes had informed everyone that there was a place in Wales called Clanvairpwillginnygogagooogooodroblagochalot , which was completely absurd , even to eleven year olds . So I wrote to the Beano to have that verified , but never got a reply . John Noakes went down in my estimation after that , and I defected to the other channel and started to watch Magpie instead . Just a quick word on that actually , there were only two t.v. channels available in the sixties , BBC and ITV , they both started transmissions at 4p.m. and finished at 11p.m. , and they were both in black and white because colour t.v. was a long way off . Plus , you had to switch the t.v. set on at least ten minutes before you wanted to watch anything , to allow the damn thing to warm up properly . Which was annoying as I always missed the first five minutes of Crackerjack on a Friday afternoon , no matter how quickly I ran home from school . And all kids ran home from school on Friday afternoons . Shame on you Lesley Crowther and Peter Glaze , for having such a successful kids t.v. programme , and for causing such juvenile havoc , both on and off the screen , throughout the length and breadth of the country on Friday afternoons .
So Graeme said this word Pedafilabater and just continued poking in the bushes and I had to grab him by the woolly jumper and demand he explain properly , because I had a thing about long words , particularly new ones I had never heard before , and I absolutely needed to know more .
We sat down in the long grass and Graeme told me , in a very solemn manner , that a Pedafilabater was a man who showed his underpants to kids , usually in public places , like swing parks or sports fields , but it could be anywhere really as Pedafilabaters were unpredictable and cunning .
I asked Graeme if the swimming baths might be a place where these Pedafilabaters lurked , mainly because there are lots of men in the changing rooms wandering around in various states of undress . Graeme said this was unlikely but couldn't be discounted entirely .
He then went on to reveal to me that a group of Pedafilabaters had been caught by the police . These men were known as the Brady bunch , which was completely absurd as everyone knew the Brady bunch was a nice American family that had their own t.v. show , so I twisted Graemes arm up his back to make sure he was not making it all up . When he stopped crying he admitted that they might have been called the Brady gang , and that there was about two hundred of them and they had killed about three thousand kids and buried them all on a mountain top in the middle of Manchester . Now that sort of information just had to true , it was too extreme to make up , and plus Graeme was very good with his figures and statistics , as previously outlined .
It was at this point in the revelations that I started to get just a wee bit concerned , actually quite alarmed if the truth be known , because I had just had a terrible thought regarding my own father .
In the privacy of your own home you can of course do what you want , and my father had a penchant for lounging round the house , in a very laissez-faire manner , wearing nothing but his vest and underpants . Not just occasionally , like you might do on the hottest day of Summer , but all the time for goodness sake . My father couldn't possibly be a Pedafilabater , could he ?
My father was so relaxed with his own surroundings that he regularly answered the front door when the bell rang , and thought nothing at all about standing there in his string vest and Y fronts chatting amiably with the pools coupon man or the Jehovas witnesses or church people collecting jumble . Most of them didn't stay and chat with him for very long , particularly the Jehovas witnesses who would produce crucifixes from their pockets and back off with rapid shuffling steps whilst holding the said cruciforms out at arms length , my father would wave goodbye happily down the street after them and exclaim that we were a good catholic family don't you know . Actually , that was an embellishment on my fathers part , as my mother was the only catholic in the family . But her zealous devotions more than made up for the lapses incurred by the rest of us .
I immediately explained about my father to Graeme and asked him what he thought . Graeme used his powerful sense of logical analysis , which even as an eleven year old was keenly honed , and asked me if my father had ever been to Manchester , which was the world Pedafilabater headquarters , and if he was one he would have to go to meetings there quite regularly . I said I really didn't know . Graeme said it was easy to tell because Manchester was a long way and took about ten days to get there and back , and also my father would have had to have taken gardening implements with him , like spades and shovels and coils of stout rope , so that would be a dead giveaway according to the blessed Graeme .
I said my father had never been gone as much as overnight , my mother just wouldn't allow it , never mind ten days or whatever . So Graeme decreed that my father was definitely not a Pedafilabater , which caused a great deal of instant relief to me . Although it didn't stop me sneaking into our garden shed later that evening and examining the garden tools in there for traces of fresh earth . All I found was cobwebs and rust , evidence of disuse . I slept easy that night I can tell you .
And the next day I let Graeme borrow a couple of Marvel comics from my extensive collection by way of thanks for the revelations about Pedafilabaters .
All of this , however , pales into insignificance compared to what blessed Graeme told me a few days later about girls and the secret sexy word . My eleven year old world would change irrevocably , and somewhat painfully , after those events , and Graeme would refuse to leave his house for a whole week .
But you will have to wait a while for that one .
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