We’ve had all sorts of responses to this weeks prompt of “Jinks and Japes” and many reminders of the different perspectives and experiences we’ve each had growing up. Geoff had me on a fruitless search of my local high street, for Garibaldis – to both remind myself of a squashed fly biscuit and inform you guys over the pond!
They were perhaps the generational jape of the 60’s and 70’s in the UK (and maybe also ‘down under’? Irene perhaps you can help us out here!). I suspect adults called them squashed fly biscuits so there’d be something left for them at tea-time! This photo links to Wikipedia’s full run down on these curranty, pastry-ish biscuits, which it seems, is sadly a little out of date, as today, I could only find cookies, Jammie Dodgers and the occasional custard cream!
Preparation for this week seemed a bit harder using “I remember..” statements than prose. This seems to be reflected across the board with a total lack of “I remember ..” entries. Charli summed up this struggle with a great comment “For me, exploring memory is like extracting water from a peat bog. It’s saturated, but not easy to pull out clean,” whilst Julie reminded us, it’s sometimes not much fun on the receiving end of someone else’s pranks!
I had nearly finished preparing ‘sandcastles and mud-pies’ for tomorrow but Suzanne, our psychic friend in Canada pipped me at the post with a delicious bite! Perhaps as we Brits head for our cool windy beaches in the ‘summer’, we’ll revisit that one!
Some people aren’t totally comfortable exposing their age, so I’ve relaxed the ‘rules’!
Older students sat in the back of the bus. No reserved sign was needed; we simply understood the seating hierarchy. In the winter, we’d fill seats from first-graders to eighth and go skiing at Kirkwood for physical education.
Chatter buzzed the 30 minutes it took to drive up the winding mountain pass. Cheese sandwiches and cartons of milk filled two boxes for lunch. I can still taste the squishy white bread, tangy mayo and creamy American cheese. None of us dared to mess with lunch.
But let loose on the ski slopes, we found plenty of mischief, especially once we became back-seat riders. Our favorite joke was to ski backwards. We’d sing the television jingle that advertised Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars—“sometimes you feel like a nut” (jump to backwards skiing) and “sometimes you don’t” (jump to forward skiing).
We’d only stop long enough to devour a cheese sandwich.
Although hot summer days were the best for mud cookie baking, they often presented another problem. Water was needed to mix with the dirt, and if it had not rained for awhile there were no puddles available to scoop water out of. My Dad had always strictly forbidden me to touch the outside tap.
I remember being faced with the no water predicament one day. I got the idea that we could pee into the bucket. We’d use pee to mix the cookies. My friends agreed this was a brilliant idea. We hid under the back stairs out of view to empty our bladders into the sand pail. Carrying the half filled pail carefully, we proudly headed to the road to mix in the dirt; then bake on the concrete sidewalk.
When our baking was done, the little brother of Rachelle crossed the street, helping himself to a cookie. “Delicious!”
There is something very comforting in the way a sheet drawn tight around my feet and pulled up to my chin feels. It is a non-language feeling of deep love, perhaps reminiscent of the swaddling of babyhood.
My child-world was briefly set on its end long ago when an April Fool’s Prank turned into a moment of quiet terror.
It sounds absurd now. I remember smiling as tears burned. I looked to my sister and my mother who were smiling wider than normal, holding back laughter. Why were they laughing when a basic comfort like putting my feet into my bed was suddenly impossible? This was one of the few places I could trust. It was a spot I knew the best: the comfort and safety stretching out my feet.
The panic I felt was the genesis for my anti-prank stance. No harm was meant. I was just a weird kid.
Simon – UK
“Have you been pinching biscuits”
“No Dad” he said unconvincingly
“So what’s in your pockets”
“Nothing” the nervous response – unsure how to interpret the glint in his fathers eye
“What happens if I bash your pockets” said the advancing adult – with a mischievous grin, crushing the biscuits with a few quick slaps.
“Stop it Dad – don’t”
The reversing child met the sofa at calf height and fell back heavily
“My glasses you’ve sat on my glasses !!”
“I didn’t mean to ”
“Shelia! Shelia! Look what the little bugger’s done to my glasses”
Oh how we laughed – especially when recalling on his 80th !
The Conspiracy – Paula Moyer
I liked working with “Mack,” my boss, but the office needed a laugh. Then the opportunity came. His birthday.
What would be just the right thing to do? A surprise party seemed cliché. I thought and thought.
I had heard about “gorilla-grams.” A guy comes in a gorilla suit and sings a personalized song for the honoree. The folks in the next office were in. “Shirley” would bring the kids. “Dan” made a dummy appointment. We paid the actor and made a treat list.
The day arrived. Mack went to Dan’s office. The gorilla/actor arrived. The cake and treats appeared. Mack returned, puzzled. “Dan didn’t have much to say,” he started. Why the crowd?
The primate sat at his desk, rubber-stamping Mack’s signature. Then he jumped around, took off his mask, grabbed a ukulele and sang Mack’s song. He laughed. Hard.
“The best birthday ever,” Mack said for years later.
In exchange for half a crown, she handed over the leather bridle and we trooped off to the field. We positioned ourselves with outstretched arms and edged towards the pony, clicking our tongues and crooning, “Come on, Champ.” He broke through our ranks a couple of times, but we caught him in the end.
I wasn’t brave enough to slip-slide downhill on his back but, once on the flat, I had my turn.
Beyond the harbour, families were sunning themselves on the rocky beach. With nothing else by way of entertainment, the kids began queueing for a ride. At sixpence a go, it wasn’t long before we were in profit. Enough for ice creams all round and to repeat the exercise next day.
Back at the farmhouse, she snatched the bridle from us. We couldn’t understand why she told us never to come for Champ again.
I am having trouble thinking of my own jinks and japes so I am going to recount one of my Father’s from the 1930′s which I used to love hearing him tell when I was a child.
Once a week the green grocer would come with his horse and cart down the street selling vegies. He was always with Auntie Annie a long time as he would go and look at her vegie garden and they would exchange vegies with each other. One day whilst they were down the back we took the cart off the horse and pushed it inside the fence, shut the gate, pushed the shaft through the closed gate and re-harnessed the horse to it. We hid and as we hadn’t been around when he arrived they were scratching their heads trying to work out how it had happened.
Name me and shame me. Was I really that bad? My mother called me ‘an oddity’ but I was worse when I did this thing.
We had a student teacher who was about to leave. I can’t even remember whether we liked him or not, C. and I, but we had the idea to give him a present. I don’t know what twisted characteristic prompted my actions. Maybe I wanted to watch his face.
We put a marble into a shoe box – not much of a present but not such a bad thing to do. It was what we wrote on the bottom of the box that counts.
Layers and layers, we wrapped it in. Kids stood around to watch. Anticipation was on the student teacher’s face. C. ran away before he got to the end but I stood there as he read the words, ‘we’re glad you’re gone.’
I’ve killed my nana. He made me. She’s going to die. He says they aren’t real spiders and, anyway, they were dead so it doesn’t count. He says it was a joke but I know she was meant to see them in her tea. Nana hates spiders; she always screams when she sees one. Mum does her tutting thing and goes down the garden. She goes down the garden a lot when Nana comes to stay.
Nana just swallowed them whole and had a garibaldi biscuit after. Garibaldi’s have squashed flies in them; Mum says. That’s how I know Nana’ll die. It’s in the song Uncle sings me.
‘There was an old lady who swallowed a spider that wriggled and tiggled and squiggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don’t know why she swallowed the fly; perhaps she’ll die.’
One day Josh gets this idea about climbing into the ceiling like that scene from The Breakfast Club, which worked, except he didn’t really have anyplace to go. While he was perched up there checking it out Mr. McPartland finally came to class. I figured he would notice the open hole in the ceiling right away and so did everyone else, but he just came in, put the next weeks problems on the board, and started deriving some identity. Josh, meanwhile, was still trying to figure out what to do, not wanting to actually get in trouble for climbing into the ceiling. From my desk I could look up and see his arms and legs starting to shake with the effort of holding himself in position. And then, about forty minutes into class, he just gave way and came crashing back down onto his desk. Mr. McPartland almost had a heart attack, we all got in trouble, and he started coming to class on time.
It was a small village with a handful of boys and even less girls my age. I climbed or played hide and seek with the boys but got annoyed when things turned football, instead of bare-backing bullocks or scrumping in the orchard, where the doberman sometimes caught us.
I lined them up outside the bullock paddock, near the white kissing gate – promising to show them mine, if they went first. Not sure why, other than I knew I’d get them! It wasn’t even curiosity, except maybe to see some variation on my brother. There was some persuading, but down came the shorts. They were looking at each other to check timing.
I looked so quick, I didn’t see! And faster still, took off through the bullocks, long legs pumping. I knew they couldn’t catch me! Up went the shout and the shorts – I had to lie low for ages!