Mischievous Children

Me and Tommy Smith, dressed in our Life Boys’ uniform: sailor’s hat, navy blue trousers and crewneck jumper decorated with badges, got off the bus at the top of the Lane — the long dusty Lane, eerily quiet and with a granite cobbled road leading down from Woolwich Road, passed our houses and all the way on to the river Thames — with not a care in the world, enjoying each other’s companionship and talking about the life boys’ meeting we had just attended, laughing and joking with mischievous grins of nine year olds, daring each other to open our fly and walk on down the Lane with our cocks hanging out, swinging them from side to side and flipping them up and down with a shake of the hand.  No traffic or people visible at 9 o’clock in the evening, just the sound of a lone blackbird heralding in the dusk, the trees lining the Lane and overhanging the long black corrugated fence running the length of the British Rope Works factory football ground and across the road the silent allotment stretching into the distance.  Familiar smell of dirty river and algae, distant sound of a ship’s horn as it moved through the turgid waters, Tom and I feeling the air around our genitals, the playfully roguish freedom of doing the unthinkable and knowing that we were free to do so, innocently thinking our childhood would last forever, our teen years seeming so far away, and further into the distance the incomprehensible eternity of our adulthood, middle age and the bone aching years that would surely follow.  As we approached our homes we tucked our cocks back into our pants and zipped up our trousers, careful not to catch the skin in the zipper, still laughing and feeling the deep devil-may-care joy of knowing we had walked the length of the dusty Lane, rebelliously exposing ourselves.  It was a one-off and would never happen again.  I don’t even know if Tommy Smith is still alive but we enjoyed ourselves that evening, the memory indelibly printed in my mind.