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Around The Sun: A Kick Up The Backside

Steve Harrison recalls a winter's eve when he was taught a painful lesson.

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What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger – Nietzsche.

I don't think I was a bad kid. I was never rebellious, though I did like a bit of mischief now and again.

My special friends were Philip Hay, David Harrison (not a relative) and David Elsie. I don't recall whether we were all present on this particular night. I do remember we were playing out on the housing estate where I lived.

It was bitterly cold. Snow was knee-deep. I was wearing Wellington boots and I had socks on my hands as make-do gloves. We were hiding amid the snow banks, throwing snowballs at house windows. That's a funny concept, hiding in the snow. Our footprints clearly led to our hiding place.
We were trying to trick people into thinking they had a visitor. In turn, we threw snowballs at a house door, hoping it would sound as though someone was knocking. Then we stifled our giggles when someone came to see who was at the door.

To make the "knocking'' sound more realistic we put small stones in some of the snowballs. Our objective was not to break a window, honest to God. I hit one window. There was no response. I threw a second snowball. Still nothing. Then something made me look over my shoulder.

There was a policeman in full regalia. Truncheon, the lot. He towered over me.

"Got you my lad,'' he said triumphantly. I had been in a kneeling postion, ready to hide after throwing the snowballs. As I tried to stand upright he suddenly kicked my backside.

I swear I left the ground and traveled through the air.

"Let that be a lesson to you,'' he said.

I can't remember that policeman's face. I can't remember what happened to my friends, or what we did when the policeman had departed. All I recall is meeting the law and realising that it was powerful and quickly able to dispense justice and punishment.

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I often think the world would be a better place of everyone experienced that kind of instant justice. I will always be grateful to that copper.

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