Authors: John Yeoman
A few years ago my cousin Colin, who was two years older than me, used to bully me quite a bit. He’s still two years older than me, but he doesn’t bully me any more. In fact, he’s always very nice to me now.
It all started way back, when we were both quite young. In the school holidays Colin would always spend a few days at our flat, and then I’d spend a few days at his.
Our flat is on the fifth floor of a new block. It’s nice and sunny, but it’s got low ceilings and feels a bit small. At that time Colin’s flat was the ground floor of what my mum calls a “Victorian” house. It had big marble fireplaces and tall ceilings with bumpy plaster decorations all round the edges. I thought it was a great place. Best of all I loved the cellar.
You went down into it through a door under the stairs. Although there was a light, a dim bulb with no shade, you had to pick your way carefully
down the open wooden steps because they were partly in shadow and there was no handrail. That was the bit I didn’t like.
It was a terrific place to play in if you couldn’t play outside. Colin’s parents had dumped a load of old stuff they weren’t using down there. There were packing-cases, suitcases, hampers-things like that-and bits of unwanted furniture all over the place.
It was much untidier than my room ever is. And it smelled cool and sort of furry with dust, if you know what I mean.
At first I accepted being bossed about. After all, Colin was older than me and it was
cellar; and so it was only natural that he should be the leader.
If the packing-cases were a boat, he was always the captain and I was always scrubbing the decks. If we went on a polar expedition,
he always drove the sled and I was the husky. If the spaceship landed on Mars, he was always the commander and I was always the helpless Martian he captured and tied up.
As though that wasn’t enough to put up with, as we got older he decided that I wasn’t putting enough effort into the games.
“I don’t want wimps in my team,” he’d say, in the specially nasty voice he used when he was being mean. And that gave him the excuse for pinching me and punching me and hitting me across the backs of the legs with an old brass stair-rod.
“You deserve it,” he’d hiss. “And it’s no use whingeing to Mum and Dad. I’ll only give you worse next time.”
One particularly wet and windy afternoon in the Easter holiday Colin suggested, which meant ordered, a game of Cops and Robbers. Now I quite enjoyed our version of Cops and Robbers, which was like a cross between Hide-and-Seek and Tag. The seeker could easily set off in the right direction and still take ages to spot the hider,
because there were so many little alley-ways to slink down and corners to turn. Often it was just a faint shadow or a creaking wicker basket or a dusty sneeze that gave the hider away.