What’s With the Callipers?
The other day, I received a communication from a reader!
Dear Mr Caffrey,
I feel compelled to write after reading Fucked-up Bedtime Stories, and specifically the episode titled Legs Eleven. The point I noted was throughout the entire series, Arnold’s sexual experiences are all with much older characters. He is, it is fair to say, a ten year old boy, and we can all relate to the urges of boys entering puberty to stick their penises into any available holes. I myself once humped a knot in an oak tree, so I speak from experience. However, in your book, the one time Arnold finds a girlfriend of his own age, you make her a lisping epileptic who wears leg callipers. While I applaud inclusivity in all forms, I wonder why you made such a decision.
Well, U.C. Hunt, first off, may I say ‘Kudos’ for writing an email which actually makes sense. In an age when ‘wear r u’ passes as acceptable English, I applaud your efforts.
With regard to Emily wearing leg callipers in Fucked-up Bedtime Stories, it is because of advice I was given many years ago. When I first started my creative journey, someone older and wiser than myself told me to write what I know, so that’s what I did.
As a lad, I attended the Catholic grammar school for boys. As you can imagine, an entire facility of young lads brimming over with religious guilt and bubbling testosterone was a frightening place. The corridors seethed with acne, angst and aggro. Every interaction between the students included an underlying threat of violence. There was only one time of the year when aggression subsided, and that was when the students from the Catholic grammar school for girls, located across the road, joined us for the annual dance.
My mates and I weren’t the cool kids. We were the scruffy, weird, awkward misfits. Looking back, you might say we were punks before punk rock happened. After much debate, we unanimously agreed not to go to the dance. We didn’t want any part of the nonsensical posturing to impress members of the opposite sex. Instead, we decided to visit an old bomb-shelter in the nearby park and set things on fire.
The first of our gang to break ranks was Scabby Tony. One of the O’Reilly twins asked if he would be attending the masquerade, and sensing a chance to put his hand up her skirt, he jumped ship and said he’d be there. Next thing, Dog Shit Dave announced Louise Brockbank said he could ‘tit her up’ if he took her to the event, so that was him out of the arson party. Stinker Gibson then managed to snog Helen ‘Spread them Wide’ Papadopulous behind the bus shelter, so he was on dance duty as well, and when I said to Turkish Nigel, ‘Well, it’s just you and me,’ his face told the sorry story.
They were all going to the dance; everyone except me. I had to make a choice: set fire to shit on my own, or find a date within 24 hours.
I always had a soft spot for Liz Widdle. She was awkward, gangly and shy, but she’d let me rub up against her on the bus on a few times. I also liked the fact she was a flautist. Truth be told, I didn’t know it meant she played the flute; I thought it was something dirty.
Liz didn’t socialise. In those days, it wasn’t easy for 12 year old girls who were six foot five and as thin as a bamboo pole to find acceptance amongst their peers. I asked her to be my date, and although flattered, she explained the numbing shame she felt about her odd body-shape would only be intensified if anyone saw her out in public with a scruffy bastard who mumbled about bum-related nonsense all the time. So that only left me with only one option: Maureen, the fishmonger’s daughter.
Maureen was a lovely sort: a bit on the tubby side, bright ginger frizzy hair, and a face only a mother could love. She was epileptic, and wore leg callipers. She also stank of fish. However, the word on the street was she’d let you put your penis in her mouth for a bottle of cider. I asked her to be my date, and she agreed.
I figured if I had to suffer attending the dance, I needed to be sure Maureen would let me do some dirty stuff afterwards, so I made up a special drink. While my parents were out shopping, I topped up a lemonade bottle with a bit from every bottle in the drinks cabinet. Armed with the love potion, I went to meet Maureen.
The dance was a typical piss-poor mid-1970s disco. One of the PE teachers played his record collection on a shit Danset record player, trying to fill the gaps as he switched records by doing a bad imitation of Top-of-the-Pops banter. As the traffic-light style lights flashed, the tinny music was drowned out by people talking.
Maureen and I swigged the magical concoction, and before I knew it, she turned into a giggling mess. I urged to come outside with me. My plan was to finger her in the car park, but she refused. She wanted to dance. Her level of intoxication drove her into a frenzy, and if you’ve never seen a girl wearing leg callipers dance before, take it from me, it’s not pretty.
Just as I was considering writing the evening off as a bad job, she stopped dancing and froze, as if in a trance. Standing, swaying, her pale face whiter than usual, she gurgled loudly, before projectile vomitting across the other couples on the dance floor. Then, before anyone could react, she fell to the floor and started to fit. I tried to help her up, but her twitching legs caught me, one of the callipers cracking me across the shin. I felt like some cunt had whacked me with a golf club.
As I tried to limp away in agony, pretending I had nothing to do with the drunken mess of a girl who was now twitching and frothing at the mouth, Turkish Nigel appeared. Pointing at Maureen, he said, ‘Look, Peter. She’s not wearing any underpants.’
I turned, and sure enough, she wasn’t. For a moment, we both gazed on the first woman’s gash we’d ever seen (apart from the time we peeped through the crack in the doors at the public baths), but before we could enjoy her unexpected chuff-display, she shat herself, a trickle of liquid shit oozing out as the other dancers moved away in disgust.
So, U.C. Hunt, in answer to your question, that’s why I made Emily a lisping, epileptic who wears leg callipers. Thank you for dragging up that shameful memory. Next time you want to know something, fucking work it out for yourself.
Have you a got a question for Peter? Get in touch, and he’ll doubtless fob you off with some old bunch of toss.