"I Mentioned It Once, But I Think I Got Away With It"


My mother didn't like me playing with guns; they counted as war toys. The idea that war was a Bad Thing was one of two political convictions which she held and holds unshakeably. (The other is that Family Allowance should not be means-tested, in case you were wondering.) My father explained his distaste for war-comics most succinctly. "This is not fantasy. Some of my school friends were killed wearing uniforms like that." However, after much discussion and agitation they stretched a point over the Captain Scarlet ray-gun--and HP7 torch with holder, 25p and two Sugar Puffs box tops.

Killing Mysterons didn't count.

My granny had a set of twelve tea-spoons, each of which had a little man on the handle. She said that they were the Twelve Apostles. I tried to work out, by looking at them, which was which. One might have recognised St Peter by his key or his fishing rod, but how exactly would you represent Nathaniel or Thaddeus on a tea-spoon? We went on holiday to Granny's once a year. Her house must have been somewhere near the school where Daddy's friend went before they were killed in the war. There was a war memorial near the church; Daddy always said that there was space on it for two more names, in the place where he and his brother would have gone, alphabetically.

There was a small park near Granny's house, with a pond with ducks on it. There was a hut which might have been a band-stand, but there was never a band. I shot at the ducks with my ray-gun; I killed them all and went back to Granny's.

"What have you been doing?"

"Killing Germans."

Daddy raised his eyebrows critically, and stirred his tea with St Matthew the Tax-Gatherer.

"I meant Mysterons. Set to stun."

Peter, put away your ray-gun, for whoever takes the ray-gun will perish by the ray-gun.

Guns and war-comics were the only things they ever actually banned. Or, banned is too strong a word. If I had somewhere obtained a contraband copy of Warlord or Battle Picture Weekly; I would not have had to fear any actual punishment or even necessarily a lecture. But I would have known that they didn't approve, and that was enough to keep me politically correct.

Parents, like Mysterons, have strange alien powers of mind-control.