Bullying has always existed. But it is how you respond to a bully that seems to make the biggest difference. And like anyone, my sister and I came across our fair share of bullies who would terrorise us – normally because of their size compared with us.
One of the things we had both been taught however was that simply going and finding a grown up to stop any bullying was pretty pointless. We were expected to sort things out for ourselves and only when that failed or when things were getting pretty ugly should we call in the grown-ups. That seemed to make sense to everyone.
At least it did until we met up with one boy in particular. Now I cannot for the life of me recall his real name, just the one that has stayed on in my memory and it pretty much summed up our arch enemy – “Killer Stone”! I do know that his surname was Stone, but I am sure that his parents had baptised him with a different first name.
Anyway, after several weeks of suffering at the hands of Killer I clearly had different plans in mind. I am unsure of just how old I was, possibly four or five, but it was already clear that I was quite inventive. That is the polite way of saying that I had a mind which clearly included devilishness and general naughtiness.
Naturally this came to the fore when my sister and I found a store of house paint at the building site just down the road. Now this building site had been put off limits to us because of an incident with building lime, but that somehow just made the whole place an absolute magnet for us.
And when Killer Stone found out that we were banned he really lorded it over us, telling us how fantastic a place it was to play and he would then run off, laughing at our inability to join in the fun. Eventually I could take it no longer and so I egged my sister on and we both sneaked back onto the edges of the site. My argument being that as long as we stayed clear of the building lime, then we weren’t exactly breaking the rules. And that was when we found the paint store!
Can you imagine the delight of finding such a treasure trove? We could paint anything we wanted, after all there were tins and tins of the stuff and in all different colours too. Nobody would notice us just using a little bit and we could have such fun.
I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but my ideas invariably exceed my physical capability. I have these fabulous pictures in my head but actually turning them into a reality rarely if ever happens as I envisage. If you add to that a general clumsiness and my age (four or five) then you might already have an idea that things could be about to go wrong!
Next you need to factor in the arrival of Killer Stone and you can bet your bottom dollar that things are going to disastrously wrong and that there will definitely be tears before this adventure comes to a close. And you would be absolutely right! But, as ever, there is a twist to the story, so sit back and find out just what happened.
We must have spent a good few hours painting whatever we could find with this fabulous collection of colours, and we certainly managed to splash quite a lot of it over ourselves in the process. We had all done finger painting at school or nursery and so we weren’t particularly bothered about this. All it would take was a darned good washing and we were quite used to being tipped into the bath at the end of each day anyway.
I have no recollection at all of quite how things turned out the way that they did, but let’s just say that my powers of persuasion were clearly at a particular height that day. Not only that, but as a result we were banned from playing with Killer any more – well for some time anyway. Apparently we were “a bad influence on him” whatever that might have meant. All I do know for sure is that we never had any problem with Killer bullying us any more, in fact he seemed to disappear off the scene almost entirely, though that was probably just that his father had been posted to another base somewhere.
So what happened for all this to come about? Well, by the time we heard our mother calling us for tea we had pretty much worn out all the excitement of painting and so we trotted off happily to find out what super thing we were going to have for tea. That was when the fan was hit by a huge dollop of the smelly stuff!
Mum went absolutely ballistic when she saw us, especially when she saw the state of our clothes. There was lots of ranting and raving about how expensive we were becoming and then she stopped. She knew us too well, and clearly there was something else going on, because we were not bothered about her outbursts. In fact, we were positively happy about the whole situation.
“What is it?” she hissed. “What else have you been up to? There’s no point hiding it. C’mon out with it!” which was when we stepped to one side and watched her mouth drop in astonishment.
Yes, we were pretty much covered in paint and our clothes were clearly destined for the scrap heap, but standing behind us in all his semi naked glory was Killer Stone, covered from head to foot in paint of every hue. Not for him the half-hearted attempt at splashing a bit of paint on his clothes, he was a prime example of full body painting – even years before it became fashionable.
Apparently I had somehow persuaded him that only the best and bravest of people would be allowed or even able to do such a thing and so he had readily agreed to have us paint him from head to foot. My sister swears to this day that it was all my idea, but I think she was an equal accomplice. Killer’s mother however decided that we were mad, bad and dangerous – or at least far too colourful for her sweet young child.
So ended our first real encounter with a bully – as I said, it really all comes down to how you handle things, doesn’t it?