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Carry on England - 07/24/2013

AW The Way it Was Saturday Morning A handful of us boys shiver by the Male’s Pool in Manchester’s Gorton Baths, wartime thin and pale as fear. It’s 1944 and I’m 10 years old. The winter wind rips off the Pennines, roars along Hyde Road like a bomb blast, then streams through the swing doors of the pool as an icy draught. I hate it here. This little group are all about the same age. We’re in the same class at school, 4b, the slow stream. We take the 11+ in June. No chance. The older lads are in the deep end, larking about. Some of them will be in the army next year, fighting the Germans. Scally’s with them. He’s the wiry one with scars on his back.  He’s done borstal for robbing and GBH. He got the birch in there. That’s what the scars are. So now he’s a kind of hero. It’s as if he was  in the war and got wounded.  He says he “owns” the deep end. You can only swim in there if he gives permission. I’m scared of Scally. He puts the wind up everyone. Sken-eye, the bald-headed perv, was already in the plunge when we came in this morning, kneeling in the shallow end with just his head above water, like that seal we  saw on the school trip to Rhyl. Judder, our woodwork teacher, says there are seals all round the coast, watching the beaches. The Germans put cameras in their heads and use them as spies. Judder should know. He had his brains blown out in the last war. He keeps hitting us on the head with lumps of wood and saying, ‘Shee...

Carry on England

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