Not all fun and games: Playground bullies will always find new, secret ways to hurt and go on hurting. Adults are no match for them
There was a small, friendly café among the shops near where we lived when I was growing up. It was called Edward's, it was family-run and my mother liked to go there for coffee and a cake and sometimes for lunch. I liked it but once I had eaten I was bored so I used to ask if I could help. Being a waitress was a glamorous thing to a nine-year-old and I was allowed to bring out plates of toasted tea cakes or iced fancies. The owner's son, Michael, three years older than me, always sulked and scowled at me if he was around when I was "waitressing" but one day, he asked if I would like to go out with him to buy sweets. My mother was quite happy-Michael was older, and sensible about crossing the road.
But we did not go to the sweet shop. Instead, he pulled me roughly by the wrist into the side door of the café, and into the stock room. He turned on the light, locked the door, and pinned me to the wall.
"I've got a warning for you," he said. I was mystified and not really frightened because this was someone I knew and I did not fully understand him.
"I don't like the way you behave when you come to the café. You're getting a mite too cocky. I don't like the way you make yourself at home and help at the tables. You don't have any right to do that so I'm telling you not to do it again. If you ever do, there's be trouble. Something bad will happen to you." And to give me a sample of it, he picked up my hand, and gave my wrist a Chinese burn. It hurt. Then he took a matchbox off the shelf, lit one, blew it out and laid the hot end on my arm. It hurt.
"Now you know what else I'm going to say, don't you? If you tell anyone about this, your Mum or your Dad or anyone at school, then I shall find out because I have ways, and it'll be a lot worse than today. Right?"
- ONLINE ONLY: Academic Boycotts Teach Us Nothing
- ONLINE ONLY: Send in the Clowns
- ONLINE ONLY: Thatcher, Reagan and the Dictators
- The Resolute Courage of Margaret Thatcher
- America's New Isolationists Are Endangering the West
- An Alternative To Our Reckless Energy Gamble
- The Family is the Key to the Future of Faith
- Persecuted Muslims Who Love Life in England
- They Were the Future of the Tory Party, Once
- The Parable of the Stupid Samaritan
- Pope Frank: In the Footsteps of St Francis
- The Middle Kingdom's Problem with Religion
- We Abandon Christians in the East At Our Peril
- Feminism Or Islamism: Which Side Are You On?
- At Last: Gove Goes For the Culture of Excuses
- Is There a Way Out of the Tories' Modernising Mess?
- Online Only: The Kenyatta Dilemma
- Cameron is the Euro's Best Hope for Survival
- Census That Revealed a Troubling Future
- The Servant of the servants of God Departs in Peace