‘So, you had guns in class?’
‘Not real guns. Just small air pistols. They were called Gat guns and we only had them at the back of the class. I scarred my hand cocking one against a desk, just here, look.....’
Maude was unimpressed with the tiny purple scar between by thumb and forefinger.
‘And you shot each other?’
‘A little bit, yes.’
‘How do you shoot someone ‘a little bit’?’
‘They didn’t shoot bullets or darts – just pellets.’
Maude was having trouble understanding an educational context in which teenage boys could fire air pistols at each other. She hadn’t been to a Mancunian comprehensive in the late seventies – especially one that came about through a merger of a rough boys’ school and a girls’ convent school. Our year was the first intake and we were taught by a mixture of bewildered nuns and short-fused ‘demob’ teachers in ‘demob suits’. The rage and frustration was palpable and the kids were pretty volatile too.
A lot of boys had air guns and some brought them into school in their sports kit bags. There was nothing high calibre – mainly Gat guns. We sometimes shot each other at the back of the class before the teacher arrived. We knew that the angry demob guys had fought in a war somewhere before they’d done a brief correspondence course to ‘teach’ inner city kids. I did hope that one of them would catch a boy toting a Gat gun and pull out a much more impressive military revolver to up the ante – a bit like ‘if....’ in reverse. Sadly that never happened.
‘And you’re thinking of investing in one of these ‘Gat guns’ to deter Celia’s cats from soiling our flowerbeds?’
‘Well I was, if they still make them. But as you say this plan back to me now, I’m not so sure.’
Maude seemed deep in thought and then thought aloud.
‘Do they come with a holster?’