Now, where was I?
Well, to continue where I so rudely left off:
The following week Alan and I went back to Beatties. Lo and behold, the role-playing section had been moved to the front of the shop and was displayed in the open on shelves, instead of the glass display case. We were somewhat dismayed to see that the games also shared their hallowed ground with a demonstration model of the Atari 2600 game console running a continuous loop of the ‘Pitfall’ game. Of course computer games like this were never going to catch on, were they?
Unfortunately on this day we had managed to miss our usual bus after school and, had tarried a while longer than was wise at Hopkinsons’. Consequently, by the time that we reached our newest temple of all things fantastic, we were pushing our luck for getting home on time. In the same way that Scotland always fails to get to a World Cup final, fickle fate was to lay us low that day. As we discussed which box of Grenadier models would be purchased next (ironically 'Thieves') I happened to glance at my watch. This was – being the 1980s - a large stainless steel model of the digital variety, which displayed the time in red LED when you pressed a button. I applied a finger to the aforementioned button and the face glowed, illuminating its terrible, message in bloody brilliance. It was 5:00 PM and we were going to miss the bus unless we ran.
So, run we did…
Sadly for us, Geoff ran too, believing we had made off with his beloved stock, he chased us a good 50 yards down the street at a pace not becoming to a man of middle years, before grabbing us squarely by the collars and marching Alan and I back to his office despite our protestations. I tell you, for a man in his fifth decade of life that man could run.
Now, these days, a teenager would simply take up their mobile phone and make a call to their parents who would in turn make a call to the family solicitor and commence suing the company who had dared to waylay and incarcerate their beloved offspring. But remember that this was 1982 and therefore we were as doomed as a doomed thing.
Eventually, after twenty minutes of being held against our will and our bags having been thoroughly searched whilst we explained the reason for our hasty departure to Geoff we were allowed to go.
Red-faced, I was almost an hour late for my tea. I apologised, I grovelled and may have even washed the dishes. What I did not do however was tell my parents what had happened as they would have simply banned me from going into town at the very least.
As I mentioned earlier, I was the prototype for my parent’s later forays into raising children and I am sure they were working from the Gestapo training manual as I will briefly illustrate.
When I was younger I was tied to a tree, in a local park by ‘friends’ – Matthew France, you know you did me wrong, that day! Anyway, as a result I spent two hours there and by the time I got home it was almost dark. Despite giving my parents a list names and a full account I was grounded for two months and soundly thrashed. There were in those distant days no ‘naughty steps’, which seem to be built into all modern homes.
Now, about a decade later, I was grounded for a month with a 4:15PM absolute limit for being home from school. Weekends were put on hold and so were all things to do with games – a fate worse than a bloody good thrashing.
Life was already shaping up to be a bugger!