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Blackout

By Carl Mc

 

At this time, Wednesday night could only mean one thing – Disco night at the Bootle Arms. I was in my very early teens, about the age where when you went into a pub there was a 50-50 chance you’d get knocked back. The Bootle Arms was about 4 miles from our house but if you took a shortcut down the canal it was less than 2 miles. This meant we would save on taxis and have more money for booze. We used to get as pissed as farts and have loads of fun on the way home. Apart from throwing each other in the canal, another thing we were into was stripping off and running naked across farmer’s fields. All harmless fun but it was inevitable that soon we’d be looking for something more exciting to do while walking home pissed.

 

As a child I spent most of my days fishing on the canal bank. I remembered one time when I was walking home with my gear and I saw this gang of lads underneath some power cables trying to throw a stick over the cables. I didn’t stick around to see what would happen if they got a stick onto the cable but it must have stuck in my memory because one night, when we were staggering home pissed I had an idea.

 

There was just me and my mate Dave. We got to the part of the field where the power cables were. I told Dave about the lads I’d seen and what they were up to but I didn’t have to say any more because Dave was just as mischievous as me. We looked around in the bushes to try and find a stick to throw but it was dark and we couldn’t find anything, but there was a fence by the motorway so we snapped a bit off that. These cables weren’t very high; they were on telegraph-type poles so we started throwing the stick up trying to get it to land across two cables. Being pissed and all that it took fucking ages and I was just about to call it a day when Dave said, “Giz another go lad, “. Bingo! The jammy twat got the stick right on target across the cables. I don’t know what I was expecting but what we did get I wasn’t expecting. Absolutely fuck all happened! The stick just sat there and like nobheads we stood there waiting. He said “You fucking nobhead…what a waste of time that was,” I felt a cunt and we argued for a while when I suddenly realized … the lads were snapping branches of the bushes, the bark held moisture and we all know how electricity and moisture react….

 

So we snapped a couple of branches off the bushes and started again. This time it wasn’t long before one of us got a branch over the cables. As soon as it hit it started making a loud hissing sound and there were sparks raining off it. “Is that it?” I thought, “What a fucking waste of time” but then I noticed the branch was burning and the flame was making its way across to the other side. Just before it got there, there was an almighty crack and a flash like a lightning flash. We were staring at it and for a few seconds we both lost our sight like when you’ve stared at the sun for too long. We crapped ourselves and legged it.

 

We were pretty impressed with what had happened and talked about it all week. We mentioned it to another mate, Mike, who usually came out with us on Wednesdays. Mike was as fucking weird as they come. His nickname was Mike Rambo, he always dressed in combat gear, was obsessed with Rambo type knives and the nobhead used to carry a compass with him wherever he went even though he never went out of Kirkby. Although he was obsessed with all this macho shite he was scared of his own fucking shadow. Apart from all this Combat stuff he used to carry about with him he was mad about guns and reckoned he was a member of a gun club somewhere on the Dock road. He’d asked me to go with him a few times but I never bothered coz to be honest, I thought it was all in his imagination. Then one night I thought I’d call his bluff and agree to go. I was expecting him to make up some blag story about it being cancelled or something but to my amazement he really was a member of a gun club and this would be where I would shoot my first gun.

 

When we arrived I was a bit nervous. These were all fucking fanatics, all dressed in combat gear – a couple of them even had cowboy hats on. Mike took me to the firing range and taught me how to hold and shoot a gun. We were only using 22s which were not much more than a cap pistol. I wasn’t impressed but then one of his mates turned up who was the proud owner of a 44 Magnum. Apparently it’s rare you get the chance to shoot one of these cos the ammo costs over a fiver a shot, but Mike talked the lad into giving me a go. He loaded it up and I pointed the gun at the target.

‘No lad, use 2 hands,’ so I did and I squeezed the trigger and got the fucking shock of my life. It was like a fucking bomb going off in my hands. Now I knew they’d let me fire it just to see the look on my face.

 

I started going with him on a regular basis and one of his mates said I should apply for a Fire Arms Certificate. This would allow me to legally own any type of gun. At first I thought ‘Yeah’ but after a few days I realized I wasn’t getting on with my al feller and it would be lethal to have a real life gun in the house. Mike had about six guns in a steel cabinet in his house and I used to say to him, ‘Why the fuck do you need 6 guns lad?’ and he’d reply ‘Just in case there’s a revolution lad’

 

The next Wednesday we were looking forward to our piss-up. This time Mike was coming. In the daytime he made me take him to the spot where we’d thrown the sticks at the cables. Dave wasn’t with me because it took him about six hours to sort his hair out, so I was on my own with Mick Rambo. Being Mick Rambo he wasn’t impressed but seemed distracted.

‘Okay Smart-Arse – what’s on your mind?’

He nodded to the other side of the M57 and the golf course which separates Kirkby and Fazak and pointed at the fucking big main grid pylons.

‘You’ll never get a stick on them,’ I said, ‘They’re about a hundred foot tall.’

‘Leave it to me lad, leave it to me…’

 

He turned up at ours at 8 o’clock with a carrier bag.

‘What have you got?’ I asked.

In the bag he had a few lengths of copper wire twisted together about 3 feet long with heavy bolts attached to each side. It reminded me of those weapons that the Romans used to get tangled around people’s legs.

Dave turned up half an hour later and we set off for the pub, stashing Mick’s bag by the motorway.

We decided not to stay in the pub too long as we were all looking forward to the event on the way home, so we drank as much as we could in a couple of hours and left the boozer about half ten, pissed as farts.

We had to cross the motorway to get to the Golf course and Mick thought it would be a laugh to drop our kecks. Unusual for him, he went first, dropped his kecks to his ankles and ran across. Half way there he went arse over tit but thank fuck no cars were passing. Dave and me gave it a miss. We got underneath one of the giant pylons and Dave said ‘Ok Rambo, show us how your contraption works,’

We took turns throwing the thing up as high as we could, I can’t remember who got it on target but I do remember what happened.

As soon as the fucking thing hit the wire the whole ground shook and there was a lightning flash which lasted for a few seconds and lit the golf course up for miles. The next second a lightning bolt hit a tree and the fucking thing burst into flames.

‘Leg it!’ I shouted, but Rambo, the shitbag was already a dot in the distance. As we walked back I noticed all the street lights had gone off in Fazak at the other end of the golf course.

 

The next morning I woke up with a whopper hangover. The phone was ringing; it was this girl from Fazak called Tricia who I was seeing. She was going on about this power cut they had last night,

‘Go way,’ I mumbled, ‘I wonder what that was all about,’ She invited me to hers for tea that night.

 

Later on, I was getting ready to go to hers when Granada Reports came on. One of the main headlines was VANDALS IN KIRKBY CAUSE BLACKOUT, I phoned Dave,’ Put the telly on lad’.

They were reporting on how vandals had tampered with the power pylons and the Police were launching an investigation.

I’d only just started seeing Trisha and this was the second time I’d met her parents. They invited me in and made me feel very welcome. As we sat down for tea everyone made small talk and before long her ma said to me, ‘Did you see the news earlier?’

‘Oh yeah – the power cut?’

‘Yeah, we had to eat our tea with bloody torches cos we couldn’t find any candles – what sort of idiots would do something like that?’

I nearly choked on my food and Tricia knew I was hiding something.

Later, as I was getting off she said to me,

‘Did you go to the Bootle Arms last night?’

‘Yeah.’

She wasn’t soft, she could tell I had something to do with it – so I told her the truth. To my horror she shouted her ma and told her that it was me who had caused the power cut. There was a few seconds silence which seemed to last for ages then her ma actually started pissing herself laughing.

Thank fuck she saw the funny side.

 

 

 

 


 

 

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