While I concentrate on de-funking, here are some random stories from my childhood.
Like the best stories, they all have a little moral at the end.
1. Bee Up Nose Incident
Until I was about 13 my family lived in a little valley about 20 minutes drive out of Blenheim. We had a big country property with two paddocks divided by a 6-metre scrubby sort of bush-covered cliff. The bottom paddock had a river running through it, and the top paddock had our house, garden, orchard, chickens etc. It also, from time to time, had little colonies of bees and wasps, and it was into one of these that I was trying to convince my cousin to poke a stick. She said no, but luckily I was determined and poked the hive myself. Why? I don't know why. I knew what happens when you poke a hive (bees fly out and attack you) but for some reason this didn't change my mind. I think it's most likely that I either thought this was an urban myth (or perhaps a rural myth?), or that I was smarter than bees. Maybe both. Anyway, I poked the hive, out came the bees, and my cousin and I ran away. I took one of the bees with me. In my nose.
We ran back to the house, where my cousin explained in fascinated horror that I had somehow snorted a bee into my nostril. Dad put his thumb over the other nostril and said "Blow!" and I blew and out came the bee! It was dead. Which is lucky, really, otherwise it would probably have needed therapy forever.
Thee bee had the last laugh though, because before its nasal ascent it had stung me on the face. I spent the next few days off school, with one half of my face completely normal and the other half swollen to Michelin-man proportions. I refused to let anyone take a photo of this, which is kind of a shame when you think about it.
Moral: do not poke sticks into beehives; you are not cleverer than bees.
2. Death of Gerry
This story takes place on what was to be - for reasons which will become obvious - our last holiday as a family. I would've been about 11 or 12, and my younger sister Kate about 9. We had been fighting like cat & dog for the entire holiday and Mum & Dad were completely sick of us. As a means of getting Kate & I to stop shouting at each other during car trips, Dad had implemented a system where he gave Kate and I a little notebook (carefully constructed from stapled-together bits of copy paper) and a pen. Not one each, which would have made a lot more sense, but one notebook between us. The notebook was officially called the Complaints Book, and the theory was that whenever a grievance arose the injured party would write it down in the notebook instead of having a shout about it, and then either Mum or Dad would arbitrate later. Neither of them ever showed the slightest interest in reading it, which I guess is fair enough.
Here is what happened when Gerry the Heinous Driftwood Giraffe met the Complaints Book.
The first few pages of the Complaints Book were filled with fairly standard stuff ("Ally won't keep on her side of the car," "Kate pinched me," "Ally won't give me the GameBoy.") Have just mentioned this to Kate, who is playing fact-checker. She claims that I kept ripping out her complaints and throwing them out the window, but I totally don't remember this happening. She also says that I kept hiding the Complaints Book from her but I'm pretty sure that didn't happen either and that she has a false memory, poor duck.
Anyway, eventually Kate got bored with her usual methods of irritation and brought out Gerry the Giraffe.
Gerry was a thoroughly malicious piece of faintly giraffe-shaped driftwood that Kate had found on a beach and felt some sort of weird kinship with. She had picked him up - he was only small, just the right size to poke in someone's ear - and had been carrying him about since. Gerry the Giraffe had a notably short attention span and was a real pain in the arse when he was bored. As you read further through, the notebook starts to feature more and more entries of "Gerry poked me in the arm" and "Gerry hit me," alternated with "Ally hit Gerry" and "Gerry was just being friendly."
Eventually, in a burst of temper brought on by a stretch of particularly insistent 'friendly overtures' from the savage Gerry, I snatched him from his mistress' loving arms and chucked him out the window. Kate instantly demanded that we stop the car but our parents refused (what savages! poor Gerry!) and carried on. Then Kate wouldn't give me the notebook, or maybe I would't give it to her, then we stopped somewhere and I pushed her out of the car and we all shouted a lot and it was all Gerry's fault.
Moral: Is difficult to choose between 'just let the children shout' and 'don't hit people with your stupid wooden giraffe who doesn't even really look like a giraffe anyway,' but I think the second one applies to more situations in life.
3. Join My Cult?
When I was small I was very charming and, perhaps because of this, believed whole-heartedly that I didn't have to do anything I didn't feel like doing at that very second. (Obviously, I have changed considerably over the years.) When I was about 8 or 9 I had a teacher called Mrs Broadbridge, who was determined to whip my arrogant little self into shape and in the process teach me a much-needed life lesson about smart people having to face the consequences of their actions just as much as everybody else. (Still haven't really got it.)
Anyway, Mrs B gave me 20 lines for doing or not doing something - I think it was 'I must do my homework' - and told me to bring them in the next day. I thought it was a stupid punishment and didn't do them. So the next day she upped it to 40 lines. Which I did not do. So the next day she upped them to 60, and so it went until eventually I owed her about 120 lines and she gave me some kind of ultimatum. Don't remember what it was, but it was serious enough that the time had come to do the lines.
I came home from school the next day and told Mum that I had given Mrs Broadbridge the owed lines. "Really," she said with some surprise, "you did them?" (She knew me well.) "No!" I said cheerfully. It turned out that somehow I had persuaded every kid at the bus stop (rural area school) to do 20 lines for me while we were waiting for the bus to come, and I had avoided writing so much as a single 'I must do my homework.'
Mrs B must've seen all the different types of handwriting, but she never mentioned it.
Moral: lines are a stupid punishment.
4. Artistic Injustice
When I was in Standard 1 or thereabouts (age 7/8), every kid in the class was given a circle of paper and told to draw a self-portrait. When we'd done that, the self-portraits would be pinned to a noticeboard facing the door of the classroom, so that anyone coming in would be greeted by the smiling, if somewhat out-of-proportion, faces of Mrs Ryan's class. (I liked Mrs Ryan, who had a mustache and looked not unlike Susan Boyle.) The bits of paper were about the size shown below.
I wasn't actually the colour of a tomato; apparently there are only so many flesh-coloured felt-tip pens per classroom and I was not feeling overly patient that day. I must've been grumpy as well - in the original portrait, which Mum still has somewhere, I'm scowling something fierce.
Apparently faintly Satanic self-portraits are not allowed to be pinned up on the wall with all of the boring normal-coloured ones! I was asked to do another one in a sensible colour.
Moral: no-one ever appreciates Art.
When I was in Standard 1 or 2 (about age 7/8), an Incident took place on lunchtime. When my class came charging back inside after lunch, we noticed that there was a word on the classroom door which had not been there before lunch. It was stenciled in big green capitals on a piece of pink construction paper, the edge of which had been clipped with crimping scissors, and it looked like this:"Presentation: 10/10. Content: 0/10"
Despite the fact that obviously a lot of time & effort had gone into it, the offending word was taken down and the culprit eventually found. His name was Willie and he was one of those slug-boys who constantly have a runny nose and look to be on the verge of tears, but apparently this is no excuse for writing the effer on the classroom door. I wonder if he grew up to be an artist? Such attention to detail!
(My mother told me years later that although she never thought it was me, she was 100% certain when I came home and declared excitedly that "a boy had written a naughty word on the classroom door, and he spelt it wrong!" I had been under the impression that the F word was in fact the PH word.)
Moral: no-one ever appreciates Art.