Adventures in my Green Mackintosh
In "My Life..." I described how I was able to acquire a long, light green, single texture mackintosh from a school friend's mother who was discarding it; also, how my mother upon finding it, disposed of it. It is, I suppose, interesting to speculate what might have happened if she had let me keep it. Perhaps I would have resisted the temptation to put on her own green mackintosh in her bedroom, and, in consequence, I might not have been sent to school in my long blue mackintosh, that led to so many fights, defeats and humiliations.
Before the old mackintosh went, I took it everywhere in the saddlebag of my bike. One morning, during the summer holidays, I rode to the local city park, left my bike in the racks there and put on the mackintosh, over my shorts, for a long walk. The swishing of the rubber lining against my bare legs was gorgeous. I walked through the "manicured" part of the park to the uncultivated part where there were several football pitches, a small "pitch-and-putt" golf course, and a number of natural stands of trees. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by 4 older boys on bikes, who began mocking me and my mackintosh. I slipped through a gap between 2 of the bikes and ran off to try and evade them, but they caught me again, whereupon one of them dropped his bike, wrestled me to the ground and straddled my chest. I struggled, but really more to hear the divine rustling of my mackintosh, than with any hope of escape. Indeed, he was so much stronger than me that he was able to pin my arms under his legs, and free his hands for more mischief.
"Why don't you try to get me off by using your legs?" he suggested, and, in my naivety, I raised my legs and tried to grip his body between them.
The skirts of my mackintosh hung down either side of me onto the grass. He grabbed my legs, clamped them under his arms and I was even more helpless! Worse was to come, as his friends removed my sandals and socks, stuffed the socks into the sandals and did up the straps together. Then, as I was released, they began throwing them between them, as I chased round in bare feet trying to recover them. Finally, they threw them into the trees and all went off, laughing. Fortunately I was able to recover them without hurting my bare feet, and after putting them back on I returned to my bike, and then to home, somewhat chastened!
A few days later I went out again on my bike, this time to the same allotments where I'd worn the hairdresser's mackintosh. There were more other bikes in the racks, so I didn't undress before donning the green mackintosh, and walking again along the riverbank. This time there was no-one at the open dusty patch, so I climbed up the bank to reach the road which crossed the river by a bridge.
I immediately saw a girl leaning on the parapet gazing out over the fields, and she was in a mackintosh - not just that, but a yellow mackintosh with a pattern of criss-cross black lines, identical, as far as I could see, to the one Susan had been wearing when I met her! I approached her and leant over the parapet, next to her. "May I say that's a very smart mackintosh you're wearing" I ventured, but she didn't really reply.
"Lovely day" I tried.
"Weather's alright, but not much else is!" came the reply, as she turned to look at me.
"Why; what's the matter?" I asked.
"One of the local boys says I sneaked on him. I didn't, but none of the other children living round here believe me and they don't like me because I'm at grammar school. I've been told to meet him here in about 10 minutes time and he might make me fight him. The other children will egg him on and enjoy watching him fight me! That's one reason I'm wearing my mackintosh, to keep me and my clothes clean and dry if I have to fight, and I'll have to have my hood up to protect my hair."
A sudden wild thought came to me. "I'm at grammar school too, and I'm also in a mackintosh - if he does insist on a fight, would he fight me in your place as your "champion in mackintosh"?"
"I suppose he might - it would be wonderful - but why would you want to get involved like that? It's not you he hates".
"I don't like the idea of you having to fight in your lovely mackintosh, and I'm well used to being defeated in my mackintosh. If I did fight for you, could I then be your boyfriend, or do you have a boyfriend already".
"No. I don't - as I said, none of them round here like me; yes, I'd be your girlfriend if you did fight for me, and I'd wear my mackintosh whenever we were together, if that's what you'ld like!"
"I'd love that", I said, of course, "and I will definitely fight him for you if he'll let me; even if he doesn't, I'll still stay to support you". I ascertained that her name was Lucy, and took out and donned the rainhat which went with my mackintosh, as Lucy erected her hood and tied the drawstrings tightly under her chin.
After a few minutes a group of about a dozen children appeared round the corner and approached us on the bridge. I wasn't sure, but I thought the boy in front, who was clearly the one Lucy might have had to fight, might have been one of those who had beaten me up in the hairdresser's mackintosh. I stepped in front of him.
"I'm Lucy's mackintoshed champion - if you want a fight, I dare you to fight me, not Lucy!" I said by way of challenge.
He looked at me for the first time. "Oh, you're a boy are you?"
"Yes, a mackintosh boy", I replied, by now so excited as to be heedless of my likely fate.
"Okay, but you'll be sorry!", and, with that we all descended the bank to the dusty patch by the river's edge.
Two of the girls seized Lucy's arms and held her so she couldn't interfere.
The fight began!
We grappled, and then, inevitably, I went down with him on top of me. However, I managed to seize one of his wrists, as he seized my other one. We thrashed about in the dust, until he was able to get on top of me and straddle my chest. Letting go my wrist, and while pinning my other wrist to the ground, he punched me several times in the face as I twisted from side to side to lessen the blows.
"Don't hurt him, or I will tell on you!" Lucy shouted, at which the bigger of the girls holding her snarled "Shut up, sneak", but her cry had its effect. My opponent did stop trying to punch me, and simply pinned me down by the wrists. He probably regarded that as in itself sufficient of a defeat and humiliation for me. But to be pinned down in a mackintosh, even before the numerous playground defeats that were to come the next school year, was already exciting for me.
Eventually, after nearly an hour of pinning down, both my opponent and the girls holding Lucy left, along with all the other children. Lucy helped me brush down my mackintosh and began to kiss me in thanks for my fighting for her.
I saw Lucy again on several occasions, and after my mother had thrown away the green mackintosh, Lucy let me wear her yellow mackintosh if we were in a secluded place. Sadly, however, she too, like Susan, moved away - it seemed her parents had been left a house by an elderly relative - in a village on the opposite side of town, much more convenient for Lucy's school. And we lost touch.