"When I was a boy growing up in the 1950's, like all children, there were things I liked, things I could stand, if need be, along with stuff that no self-respecting boy will ever tolerate from any adult who is purposely seeking to assert their seniority over a minor in their charge.
Just as bossy teachers can expect to find dead frogs, squashed caterpillars and slimy slugs inside their coat pockets when they go home at the end of the teaching day, clever clog parents can also expect to get their comeuppance!
I am not sure where my wicked sense of humour originated but was I to guess, I'd have to say that it probably came from my mother who would frequently have a laugh at my expense if she thought that I was getting too big for my own boots.
Although mum, who daily expressed her love for me and all her children, knew deep inside that her eldest son would go through his life carrying the cross of saint and sinner. She would often remark that despite my good intelligence because I was constantly playing jokes on others that I'd either finish up a fool or wise man, a thief or policeman.
'One way or another, Billy Forde', she would say, 'you'll be just as likely to finish up in trouble as often as out of it!'
In those days of no television, all boys played cowboys, and my mother would refer to me as 'Billy the Kid'. It was not unknown for her to pin a 'wanted notice' up on the door to remind me of something I must do, or under certain circumstances, refrain from doing (just as notices are often placed on the fridge door today to act as reminders)!
She called me 'Billy the Kid' because I was constantly 'wanted' by somebody in my youth for something I had done wrong; some wicked deed I'd been part of or had committed solo.
I never lost this sense of childish wickedness and in my older years when I became a children's author, I always found it helpful in getting inside the mind of the child reader simply by recalling the child within myself that I'd never abandoned.
I have always been aware that here is nothing better children like laughing at than silly adults slipping on the proverbial banana skin. Likewise, teenagers derive the greatest of smug satisfaction 'getting one over' on their elders who think they are their betters.
I grew up in a household with a strict father and when it came to a matter of dispute with any of his children there was but one rule; you were wrong and he was right! If you asked him why that was so, he'd simply reply, 'Because I'm the adult and you're my child.' While he'd discuss many things with you, he would rarely brook argument and never tolerate the practice of you giving him cheek, or easily withstand suspected criticism.
There is a bit of wickedness even within the best of us and nowhere better is this seen than when a teenager manages to 'tango' an adult and the adult doesn't even realise they've been had! It is tantamount to committing the perfect crime; the act whose commission isn't noticed by the victim and one which the perpetrator will never have to answer for.
I recall at the age of fourteen having an argument once with my father that turned into a heated dispute. When my dad eventually closed down the argument by essentially telling me he was right and I was wrong and that was an end to it, I left the room angry and was bent on revenge. There was simply no way that I intended to leave the matter there and forget about it!
I got a stiff piece of card and a soft pencil and went into the lavatory where I proceeded to carefully unroll about two foot of toilet paper in length. Then, placing the toilet paper on the stiff card to prevent piercing it, I lightly wrote on the reverse of each sheet the words, 'My dad is a fathead who knows nothing for his age.' I then rolled the toilet paper back onto the roll. This prank gave me a good few secret laughs when I saw dad go to the lavatory over the next day or so, knowing that he'd flush away my sin, like the Catholic priest in the confessional box, when he next pulled the chain!
On another occasion when he angered me I put a dead wasp in the middle of his sandwich that my mother had prepared for his snap box which he took to work down the pit. I knew that when lunchtime arrived he'd be so hungry that while he might open his sandwich to confirm that he had blackcurrant jam inside his bread, the darkness and thickness of the jam would disguise any content beneath its spread and he'd eat it without ever knowing the full extent of what I'd made him swallow!
A particular favourite of mine was to puncture his rigid practice of 'always being on time.' Being an exceedingly orderly and efficient man, he hated being late, especially when it involved entering the church as he always sat near the front and would be emotionally 'put out' if he entered the church after the priest had started Mass. Mass would commence at 10.00 am, and there being no buses on a Sunday morning in those days, it would take him half an hour precisely to briskly walk from our house on Windybank Estate to Cleckheaton, three miles in distance.
Being a relatively poor man with only one good pair of shoes which he wore as 'best' on Sundays, he would put on his polished footwear two minutes before leaving the house to avoid the risk of scuffing them if he put them on earlier. Whenever I could get away with it, I would sometimes hide one, delay his orderly progress and make him five minutes late attending Sunday Mass. I always assumed that he'd be faced with an insoluble predicament as he'd never take the short cut across the fields to get to church and arrive on time with dirty shoes; leaving him only with the certainty of arriving late and looking embarrassed as he quietly took his pew! Naturally, on such pleasurable occasions as these, I'd make sure that I set off before him, take the short cut across the fields and arrive at the church in time to watch him enter late as I smiled wryly from a rear seat.
None of these pranks, I might add, did I carry out on dad because he was a bad man or an unjust or over-strict parent, or because I didn't love him. I merely did them because he'd dared to cross me with impunity, like some sergeant major on the parade ground bearing down on some raw recruit as he shouted 'what for'. Nobody crosses Billy Forde and gets away with it. Nobody ever has or ever will!
If I was a parent with rebellious teenage offspring, I'd always make sure that I checked the first twenty sheets of the toilet roll before use; I'd hide my polished shoes and double check the contents of every sandwich I ate! Instead of seeking to take my rebellious child down a peg or two, far better to lift their spirits by telling them that you'll never be foolish enough to underestimate their creativity, ignore their ingenuity or doubt their sheer dogged determination!
During the 1990's I wrote a book that was suitable to be read by either teenagers or adults called, 'Butterworth's Brigade'. The book is about teenage rebels who are too unruly to be taught in a conventional school environment and have no respect for adults in general, so they are imprisoned inside a boot camp located in the heart of Arundel Forest until they change for the better. The leader of the rebels is called Axel, but was my mother alive today to read the story, she would know that it was her eldest son; me, playing the lead role!
Should you want to buy the book, it is available in E-Book format from www.smashwords.com or in paper/hardback copy from www.lulu.com or www.amazon.com with all book sale profits going to charitable causes in perpetuity (Over £200,000 profits from book sales given to charitable causes between 1990 and 2005)."William Forde: May 16th, 2017.