Monday, 26 May 2008



The Wargrave Manor House.

From a very young age, (as I remember) the Manor House grounds at Wargrave were always accessible to the villagers.
Although we didn’t have right-of-way, there was a kind consideration from the owners at the time, who didn’t feel threatened in any way by allowing walkers, children and possibly ‘poachers’ to roam the land.

I never even realised until I was in my teens that the land we used as an extended playground WAS infact ‘private’ land at all. (Of course, these days you can’t even take photo’s within spitting distance without a burly, armed security guard questioning your motives).

There was a lad who I shall only call Dave in this blog entry, because if he’s not in a maximum security prison serving life for multiple murder or torture right now, he might Sue me, (or worse).

He was the chap who had the BIG bowie knife, a rip hook in one hand and a real ‘Colt 45’ in the other. (With real ammo too, which in those days you could buy from ‘Hammants’ at Henley perfectly legally). He also had the attitude and ‘mentality’ to match. He was about five years older than me, but I still think he was pretty lucky to count me as his friend. All the other lads kept well clear, to their credit.

Dave had a couple of sheets of corrugated tin at the bottom of his garden, which were propped up and used for target practice with his Colt 45. Fine, but he used to get me to hide behind it, pop my head up, and then move one way or the other. The game was, that he had to guess which way I’d moved and then try to hit me. The bullets would comfortably pierce the tin, but had slowed down enough not to pierce ME! It did used to sting quite badly, but you didn’t dare come out until Dave had tired of his target practice.
That’s just the kind of lad he was, bless him.

If you were to be stranded in some remote location with no hope of rescue and NO food, Dave would be the last person you’d need around, because he’d definitely EAT you.

Back to the Wargrave Manor grounds, and the field to the left of the main gate as you look at it. Inside, what looked from the road like just any other clump of blackberry bushes, was the entrance to an old air-raid shelter. Dave decided this day to hack his way through the brambles to the opening, which was covered with yet another piece of old corrugated tin.
Amongst all of Dave’s regular ‘exploring regalia’, he had a torch. So it seemed like a great idea to go down and explore. We might find all sorts down there. Dead bodies, hidden treasure, who knows? So we crept down very carefully with ME obviously leading the way, hacking at all the cobwebs and stuff with my trusty hawthorn branch. (Always carry a hawthorn branch when you’re an exploring kid. It’s strong, springy, and very hard to break).

There seemed to be several compartments down there. It was bigger than we thought it’d be, so we were having a good ‘mooch’ around. Then Dave said he was just going back to the entrance to get his bag of ‘regalia’. I didn’t suspect a thing, and stood there waiting. Not long I might add, as the ‘Evil Dave’ decide to turn off his torch, bolt for the exit, and cover it up with the tin, making it pitch-black down there. I shouted and shouted for Dave to stop messing about, but he didn’t answer, or wouldn’t answer.

To say panic set in would be a bit of an understatement. I was terrified of spiders at the best of times, and this was my worst nightmare. I fumbled and felt my way around for what seemed like forever, shouting out to Dave all the time, with no answer. Eventually I found the exit steps and climbed them as fast as I could. Only to hit my head on the tin, which was secured SOLID. I pushed and pushed with no joy whatsoever. I shouted and screamed at the top of my voice hoping to attract the attention of the people who lived in the house on the opposite side of the road, but no luck.

Eventually, I heard a little snigger from above, and realised that Dave was actually SITTING on the tin so that I couldn’t move it. He thought it was extremely funny, and couldn’t stop laughing all the way home. I, on the other hand, had nightmares for months after.

But STILL I would go back and call for him to go ‘adventuring’ with.

Some of us never learn I suppose. As you probably have already guessed, there’s more to come from the ‘Dave’s vault of evil’ in future posts.

Catch you later,



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi PP, just read this and enjoyed it, thanks ....