Took Angus to Herra Park, which is an old colliery that has been landscaped with paths and greenery and children’s playing areas. It has ponds, ducks, geese, swans. Very nice. As we walked along a kid of about sixteen on a dirt bike approached the gate we’d just stepped through. I held it open for him.
‘Been running?’ he asked, spotting my shoes, shorts and t-shirt.
‘Can’t run nowadays,’ I said. ‘Not since I injured my knee. Where you off?’
‘Going up to the skate park to give the kids something to aspire to.’
‘Show me a wheelie,’ I said, and he did, squirting his little two-stroke motor and pulling the front wheel off the ground as he sped across the grass.
His bike was a wreck, and his helmet looked ancient. He wore no protective gear, just sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt. I thought he was great. Some of the mums tutted as he passed them on the road, smoke and noise billowing from the engine, but I knew, I just knew, that if one of their kids went into a pond, that sixteen year-old kid would be the first one in to save it.
There’s a charming, beautiful, recklessness about working class lads. The same lads who might cause a riot at three in the morning would leap into action to save a dog trapped in a car in a heatwave, would jump into the sea to save a kiddie from drowning, would protect even a strange woman from some weirdo’s unwanted attentions. They’re the same lads who volunteered for the Great War at sixteen, who gave the French the finger back in 1415, and who stay up all night drinking cheap lager and playing loud music on council estates all across the country, keeping the neighbourhood awake.
I love them.