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?"
- The Plot to Islamise Birmingham’s Schools
- Nigeria, Iraq, Gaza—The Threat is the Same
- Radical Islam and its Invisible Victims
- The Man Who Tried to Teach us all a Lesson
- Globalisation and The Crisis of the Nation State
- The Medium Isn’t Always the Message
- What sort of Europe does Cameron Want?
- Is China outstripping the West at innovation?
- Piketty’s panacea will make inequality worse
- The Moral Strength of Leonard Cohen
- Designer who taught us to keep it simple
- The US Can Still Help Save Syria — and Iraq
- Russian Resurgence has Blindsided Nato
- On Europe, Nothing Less than Treaty Change will do
- Putin has his Useful Idiots on the Left and the Right
- Sarajevo: Where the Century of Terror Began
- Allen Lane’s Pelicans Take Wing Once More
- How Not to Remember the First World War
- Opera is Not Just Our Most Expensive Noise
- Jonathan Miller: One Man, Two Cultures