As a youngster I was known to my friends as Prof, short for professor. I knew dozens of ways to create explosions and did so. One favorite was what we called a hand grenade. In reality it was a tightly wound and heavily glued paper tube, the interior of which was filled with a home made explosive. We also used to make pipe bombs, but they were harder to conceal. I remember one lunch break three of us thought it might be a fine bit of fun to go blow up a few garbage cans, or as we called them dustbins. This particular time we picked on the district known as Little London.
I suppose children do not think things through properly as we walked down a dead end street we found a large selection of dustbins placed out for collection. I placed my prize bomb in one and we walked on nonchalantly waiting for the explosion. ‘Bang’ and the bin made like the John Kennedy space center. A magnificent display of pyrotechnics.
The bin blew out its bottom and took to the sky just like a dirt propelled rocket. It crashed down on the roof of the nearby cottage and fell to earth. Who should come out of the cottage and looking extremely angry? Oh boy, it was our very own headmaster, Mr. French, and typically, there was nowhere to go. As he looked in our direction we ran for cover, but there was none. He knew we would have to return the way we came and so stood by his wrecked bin and waited.
Our only escape was round the back of a nearby house and through their back garden to the open fields. The problem being even there the only escape was to cross the river. We reasoned that if we crossed the river we could reach the school before the Head, and no one would be the wiser. Unfortunately the only way across the river was by a skeleton of a bridge just under construction. Being lunchtime there were no workers and we scrambled across the iron work. Geoff slipped and fell into the middle of the river. Fortunately he was the only member of our little group that could swim. Although we managed to escape detection, we learned nothing and continued our vandalism. Once we blew up a greenhouse, but that’s another story.