THE GARDEN CATAPULT & THE NAKED LADY – A true story of long ago!



John and I were close neighbours.  He lived with his Mum and Dad in a flat in the big three storey houses behind our row of terraces.  His Mum and Dad were much older than mine I recall.   In later life John would become a bit of a wag, an accomplished embellisher of the truth and the author and prime mover of many a good wheeze.  Even as a child he invariably had a devilish plan in mind.  I still remember the day – I must have been eight or nine years old – when he came around to our house to play for the afternoon.  I guess it must have been a weekday during the school holidays, as I did not get friends round to play at the weekend as they were reserved for just our family only.  Boring. 

On this particular day John arrived armed with what I soon learnt to be the inner tube from a tyre of some sort.  He signalled that we should immediately make for our small back garden.   Given that we were out to play within the confines of an area that she determined to be under her control, and the weather was fine, my mother had no problems with this.  It was safe – she could carry on reading her book indoors. 

John told me that he had, a couple of weeks previously, noticed that there were two, slightly rusty, yet in his considered view, serviceable pokers lying out of commission in or about the rockery at the rear of the garden.  He had decided that, by combining his inner tube with the two pokers in question we could assemble a ‘garden catapult’.   A glint of mischief was in his eye.  I felt a degree of excitement, although being the entirely impractical person I was then, and still am, I could not fathom John’s plan for this catapult thingy, yet was prepared to go along with the idea. 

Setting about his task with some gusto, he recovered the pokers, and staked them, about three feet apart into the patch of grass that Mum called a lawn.  He then affixed the inner-tube to both pokers in the manner that you would put an elastic band over your fingers in order to construct a hand catapult the like of which he had already used at school to fire small stones at unsuspecting girls – for sport you understand.  With that accomplished he returned to the rockery and carefully selected an old house brick.  It wasn’t a great rockery, and such house bricks constituted the majority of the so-called, ‘rocks’ – it should have been called a ‘hard core-ery’ really!   Anyway, lining the brick up with the middle of the inner tube on the ground he then beckoned me to stand behind him.  With him now holding the brick fast in the inner-tube and my arms now around his waist he ordered (I was definitely the private to his corporal) that we pull back with all our collective might.  We retreated a long way back until the rubber of the tube was as taught as two small boys could make it.   

Just like Nelson at Trafalgar, canons primed and at the ready, John then cried, “Fire”.   With that he let go of his grip.  We both tumbled backwards.  Both brick and inner-tube parted company from the pokers.  The brick hurtled into the air at some speed, the inner-tube less so.  Whilst the brick continued climbing through the air, seemingly gathering pace, the inner-tube didn’t travel that far.  After a slow and brief ascent it fell to the ground like a shot pheasant.  Not so the brick.  Within seconds there was a loud bang, the sound of crashing glass and a scream from an adult female. 

What John had achieved was to take out the entire frame of the upstairs sash window of frosted glass of the property that backed on to ours.  Neighbours appeared in their back gardens from up and down the road, all quizzically wondering what had happened.  The poor, wretched woman opposite stood framed in the gaping hole that was, only moments before, her bedroom window, thankfully unharmed – physically at least.  Terror struck, she screamed hideous screams, then calming a little shouted generally to all about her asking did anyone see what happened.   No person could assist, and plainly, two small boys could not have the strength to throw a brick that far, so, in essence, we had got away with it. More interesting however to two young red blooded boys was that it was only after her panic-stricken rant that the lady all of a sudden realized she was entirely naked. She first froze as would an artist’s model then swiftly wrapped a forearm across her breasts and a hand to her groin. Thereafter she stepped slowly backward into the gloom of her bathroom – I suspect our missile had taken out the light bulb also. Even as unfledged youngsters we couldn’t but help noticing that she was rather lovely looking – and after all we had, as indeed almost the entire street had, got more than just a glimpse. The both of us considered this event an added bonus to a mission successfully accomplished! 

I asked John if he knew he was going to get a direct hit.  He said that was how he had planned it when staking out the pokers.  I was very impressed.  Even my mother, who herself had come to see what was going on had no idea we were the culprits – John the mastermind and me the additional muscle.  Regardless, insofar as my mother was concerned I could do no wrong therefore it would not have crossed her mind that I was one of the perpetrators of the deed.   I think that that was the day when it first dawned on me that maybe I could get away with anything insofar as Mum was concerned if I needed or particularly wanted to. 

So when people say that the kids of today do things far worse than those of yesteryear they are frankly talking bollocks.  


21 thoughts on “THE GARDEN CATAPULT & THE NAKED LADY – A true story of long ago!

  1. Mike, Mike, Mike…

    I was originally going to leave some sort of Seanism like “cracking T-Bar” but decided against it. However after fully appreciating the story, I believe that it is now perfectly apt.

    Wonderful anecdote my friend. This John chap is a fucking legend. Carry on.

    1. Actually he was/is a bastard yet amusing. Cheers for the comment – I am now in Arsenal match day ritual mode yet have been told we have to drive off to Rochester (not a place I like and certainly not part of said ritual) to visit my son this pm. Last time we did this we lost 6-3 to City. I know it’s only Fulham and all that…….

      1. Oh no… these things are a sign my friend. You need to stay home and cancel your trip. Fulham are just the sorts of whipping boys who might be able to pull off the upset of the year (for now). We absolutely must win all the games against the so called lesser teams as I still feel that the big boys can beat us in their own backyards. And of course Utd and City can beat us wherever they please!

      2. I couldn’t agree more. The thing is I have a choice. Let the missus down and be celibate hereinafter or take the risk…….However my youngest son has remembered that even though he’s not going to the game today that we haven’t lost when he stays indoors wearing – oddly – the away top for a Saturday home game! That has afforded me some comfort.

  2. I would go even further and say, compared to yesterday kids don’t do anything today, besides pressing buttons. We lived inventive and dangerously, always outdoors and on the move, and lucky to return home still in one piece. Catapult making (and playing) was an extremely dangerous affair in my time: a forked(Y shaped) piece of a tree, strips of a bicycle inner tube, strong hambone and nylon cord for tying, and ballbearings as bullets. Memorable.

  3. Gee, Mike, it doesn’t sound the woman at the window was so wretched after all! It sounds like you got a bit of an unexpected education.
    I’m glad you didn’t get caught. Your mum and the neighbors forgot that one should never underestimate the power of two young boys.

  4. May I inquire, did you ever end up telling your mom the truth about that day? And you think there may be a chance the naked lady in question could read this post?
    Great story I mean confession:P

    1. No never told her at all! Maybe I lost the crucial paranoid persona of the PI yet I guessing the lady in question is maybe in her grave or gaga by now – if not I’m hoping that the Statute of Limitations may apply – although I don’t think such statute covers ‘criminal’ acts!

  5. And then he got his plumbers license and went on to become an art consigliere…I mean connoisseur. 😉 This is a wonderful story…. And it very aptly displays your proclivity for the naked ladies as well as your penchant for mischief. 😀

    1. Looking back it was one of those days you remember forever – part of me stills feels great guilt for we could have injured the poor woman (or worse) yet the other part still finds it funny.

      1. All these years on I lay odds she wouldn’t look so good at the window these days – especially so if she’s a mere skeleton now. There Rachel – subject matter for one of your novels ‘The Untimely Apology.’

      2. LOL! I love it! I do have something in the works that’s a wee bit along the same theme which will be titled “Bitter Irony”. Let’s see how we could spin your story… The boy was riddled with guilt though his whole life, turned to drinking, drug abuse, self-mutilation until he couldn’t take it anymore. He sent an anonymous check to the woman with a note explaining that he felt so bad about damaging her window. He left a post office box and invited her to send him a scathing reply so she could purge him of his guilty conscience. But as no reply came, he drunk himself to s stupor and continued on his downward spiral. Finally, he decided to face her and apologize in person. Many years had passed. He climbed the stairs to her home and knocked on the door. His knees shook as he waited for her to answer. But alas, her son answered. and said she was dead. She died only hours after some hooligans threw a brick threw her window. The man began weeping and turned and ran down the steps and into oncoming traffic. The son of the woman witness him being hit by an oncoming bus and ran and kneeled by his side. He asked why he would do something so insane, and the man replied, it was because I killed your mother. My brick hit her and she died. The son furrowed his brow and answered, “What are you talking about? She was pissed off at my dad that morning because he wanted a divorce so he could marry his secretary. She never gave the brick a second thought. She was on her way out to confront the secretary when it crashed through the window. It turned out, it was a good thing she was delayed when the brick hit, because the brake line to her car was cut. She would have been killed.” But I thought you said she died that day the man asked. The son smiled. “Yes, she yelled at dad that night for cutting her brake line. He ended up stabbing her.”

      3. That’s a good story – a good measure of murder, bad luck and mystery with a twist at the end. Like it. Blogging break today – taking my camera and Shirl her IPad off to Romney Marsh to snap some pictures as the sun is out – I must say the mornings have that autumnal chill about them already though! Have a great day – by the way I have come up with a few pertinent questions for the interview and will come back to you shortly.

      4. Awesome! It sounds like a fun day for you. I do envy your autumn chill. Yesterday we had 98F at 6PM. We’ve been told all week the humidity factor was extra bad (like it isn’t always) and we should expect it to feel at least 10 degrees hotter than it is. It does feel every bit of 108 and then some. Glad you enjoyed the flash fiction psychological thriller. I hope it gave you a chuckle. Have a wonderful day! 😀

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