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Those were the criminal days

By Duncan Graham - posted Monday, 18 May 2015

When I was a schoolboy, praying pubic hairs would soon appear like those I'd seen in the communal cold shower after playing rugby, I became a terrorist.

Or would have been if the standards of today had been applied.

First I acquired a hand gun. It was a powerful air pistol. It may have come through a swap with a friend. I already had a revolver with no trigger guard that I'd found in an old air-raid shelter, useless because I couldn't get the short .32 ammunition it needed.


But I did have same calibre slugs for an air rifle which was used to ping squirrels and rabbits; however no-one knew of the more easily concealed weapon.

One evening I took a friend and the pistol for a wander around the streets. Keen to show off I took aim at a sparrow in a bush, missed and shot out a window in the house behind.

We ran home followed by the shouts of a furious woman, but in those days street lighting was either absent or dim so we got away.

Today the charge sheet would have read: Going armed in public to cause terror, discharging a firearm in a public place, having an unlicensed weapon, causing wilful damage to property, endangering life. and probably a few more.

Convictions would have barred me from travel and public service jobs as I also became a bomber.

Joining the cadet corps was not compulsory 'but I can't remember anyone not volunteering, Graham,' said the fat red-nosed ex-soldier employed as the public school's sergeant major.


His job was to shout a lot, teach us how to bayonet sacks of straw and strip a Bren gun. Under his tutelage I learned that violence was evil, though that wasn't the message he delivered.

On Saturday afternoons we had to run around parkland and shoot at the enemy with our Lee Enfields.

Each cadet was issued with ten blank rounds but no-one counted if all were fired. I kept a few and bought others from mates. The .303 cartridges had crimped ends which could be prised open to access the cordite.

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About the Author

Duncan Graham is a Perth journalist who now lives in Indonesia in winter and New Zealand in summer. He is the author of The People Next Door (University of Western Australia Press) and Doing Business Next Door (Wordstars). He blogs atIndonesia Now.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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