ONCE again the West End cinema provided scope for my imagination, this being Errol Flynn no less in his swashbuckling role as by far the best Robin Hood ever, along with Alan Hale’s Little John.
So straight home to make a bow and arrows and of course a long staff.
No problem there. A simple removal of the yard brush head and instant long staff. But boring.
No, it had to be a bow and arrows, but with what?
The bow proved more difficult. A bamboo cane did the job but was far from perfect.
Arrows were too expensive.
I couldn’t afford them so off down to Hasting’s store on the corner of Raby Road and Lowthian Road. Green bamboo canes used for sweetpeas. These would be just fine.
Trying the bow and makeshift arrows out in the back street was to say the least pathetic.
The string would often snap, and even when it worked the arrow would travel less than 20ft.
A neighbour from Talbot Street came outside saying: “I’ve an old bow if you want it Victor.”
“Do I want it? You bet.”
It was brilliant. About a 30lb pull. It took all my strength to pull it all the way back.
The arrows now had to be modified. A notch for the bow string and a weight at the tip, cardboard flight feathers and lead on the tip.
Now to try it out in my own Sherwood Forest – Ward Jackson Park.
I pulled back the bow and let loose and, swoosh, it worked brilliantly.
The string whacked my arm but I put up with the pain.
Then another pain appeared, the park keeper.
“Clear off now, you’ll kill someone with that thing, and don’t come back.”
What I needed now was someone brave enough and, more importantly, daft enough to come and do a test firing with me.
I won’t say who it was but if he reads this he’ll know.
Off we went to Grayfields.
The first couple of tries were not very good at all, then it just came right.
Pulling the bow string right back, the arrow shot into the air like a bullet, returning to earth with a might thud and embedding in the grass not 10ft from me.
My friend’s turn now, then taking turns.
Eventually I said: “Why don’t you go about 100yd away. I’ll shoot towards you and you do the same. Okay?”
It went well till my turn came.
I pulled back the bow till the tip met my fingers then let loose. It shot off out of sight in the general direction of my friend.
When it appeared I realised it was heading straight at him.
Shouting and waving my arms for him to get out of the way, he took no notice and stood transfixed, watching this guided missile heading straight for him.
It hit him on the head and he went down like a log.
My God, I’d killed him.
I ran to him.
The arrow lay next to him, the lead weight squashed flat with the help of his forehead. It had hit him right between the eyes.
He was unconscious, laid out cold. I was certain I’d killed him.
Life started to return. He was coming round, eyes glazed, holding his head.
There was a lump starting to appear and getting larger by the minute. His eyes were turning black too.
“You know I’m going to get a good hiding if you tell on me, don’t you?”
“Don’t worry, I won’t say it was you.”
Well I concocted this story that some lads had picked on us, taken the bow and arrow and shot him with it, then had run off.
We went over it all the way home. I even started to believe it myself.
The only thing was this bump was now the size of a chicken’s egg and now he had what looked like a Dick Turpin mask where his eyes should have been.
On arrival his mother nearly passed out.
“My God, what’s happened to you? What have you done?”
Waiting now for his reply that we had rehearsed so well.
He started to cry and said it was “him,” pointing his finger straight at me. “Victor, he did it to me.”
Needless to say the consequences were well deserved.
I often think of him when the Robin Hood film is shown on TV, or when passing Grayfields, but he has more to remember it by than me.
It might have been better for both of us if I’d gone to watch Moby Dick at The Regal cinema, or even Shane with Alan Ladd on at The Odean.
But that would have been worse. Imagine making a harpoon or even a gun?
But then again, perhaps not.