The Stupidest Things I Have Ever Done
Part 1 – getting my Dad’s car completely stuck in mud on a school playing field.
I was seventeen. Driving past the school, bored, I decided to gatecrash the local parents evening and say hello to some of my old teachers. Upon driving the entire length of the school grounds in the pouring rain I changed my mind and swung the car round using a patch of grass. Without thinking I ploughed straight into the goal mouth (which also doubled up as a shot-putt area) on full lock and the car immediately sank up to its door sills in wet mud. I was so annoyed I could have spit. I tried EVERYTHING to try and get moving. I got out of the car and pushed, I wellied the throttle, I got out and pushed WHILST wellying the throttle, I even raided the CDT bins and jammed the area under the tires with bits of balsa wood and old exam papers. But nothing working worked. After being stuck for half and hour (by this time I think it had gone dark) I had to walk the entire length of the school, bang on the door of the caretakers’ house and beg for him not to lock the school gates so that I could still get out. Eventually I rang Johnny Wallace and he came down in his Cavalier. After much clutch smoke and almost ripping the boot lid of his car John managed to haul me free and I almost wept with delight. I thought I was going to have to call the AA at one point. I didn’t tell my Dad what happened, but he DID start asking questions as to why there was so much mud under his car that it had become impossible to steer properly. The entire steering system had to be professionally scraped.
I love to image the look on Lever and Evans’ faces the next day when they found their lovely field destroyed by foot-deep furrows jammed with wood and exam papers.
Part 2 – gassing my family.
When I was a child I had a penchant for mucky mixes. A ‘mucky mix’, for those who don’t know, is defined as a combination of completely unrelated but easily obtainable substances thrown into a container and stirred. In typical Paul Stearne fashion, I took it to an extreme. Aged ten I made a mucky mix so unnatural that it actually put my family in bed for a week. My Dad, a man who would only called in sick on a handful of occasions during his thirty year career at ICI, actually had to take a week off. This particular mucky mix had everything in it. Soil, hairspray, washing-up liquid, grass, engine oil, flour, cooking oil, rice, bleach, tapioca, caustic soda and glue were contained within. You name it, I used it. Then I carefully poured the goo into a huge copper pot for making jam and heated it on the hob. The fumes were so vile that every window in the house had to be left open for days and my mother actually vomited.
Part 3 – almost getting my father arrested.
Ours was the first household I was aware of to have a photocopier. For some bizarre reason I decided to see how things such as fivers, birth certificates and other official documents copied. Then I remembered the tax disc in my Dad’s car. I distinctly recall taking his car keys and carefully removing the tax disc from the windscreen. After discovering that it was impossible to photocopy – it actually turned out a completely different colour to the original – for some unknown reason I put the original in my trouser pocket. Upon hearing the sound of the washing machine the next afternoon, I realised with horror that the tax disc was IN POCKET OF MY TROUSERS WHICH WERE BEING WASHED. I managed to retrieve the tax disc from the pocket of my now sodden trousers and discovered that it was now a mush about the size and shape of a piece of used bubble-gum. Panic set in. By this point I was freaking out. And I was young. Too young to know that it’s possible to get a replacement tax disc for a tenner from the post office. I actually thought that to replace the thing I would be looking down the barrel of a hundred quid. That’s a lot of money for a seventeen year old. Then I remembered; THE PHOTOCOPY WAS STILL IN THE POTOCOPIER. I got the fruit of my experimentation, carefully cut it out (I even made allowances for the perforations – just like a real tax disc) and put it back from the whence the original had come. It was the best I could do.
All was fine for a month.
We had made a trip to Halton College to try and record some Honey Shop Screamers songs, only to realise that we didn’t know how to use the studio in the slightest. This meant an early finish and an early trip back to Frodsham. It turns out that on the way over to collect us, my Dad had been stopped on the Runcorn Widnes bridge by a police patrol.
I can imagine the conversation:
“May I see your driving license please, Sir?”
(Dad, completely confused and bewildered having done nothing wrong rummages around for his driving license and eventually finds it).
“Are you aware you’re driving with a counterfeit tax disc sir?”
(He calls Dad round to the front of the car and shows him. My Dad examines it closely and realizes it is a photocopy, a very bad photocopy at that. It is also the WRONG COLOUR. By this point his brain is actually melting).
Dad claims he actually had to beg the police officer that he knew nothing about it. He blamed it all on his son (me) and would have words ASAP. Unluckily for me ASAP meant in a car and front of my friends approximately twenty minutes later.
Part 3 – temporarily paralyzing my mother.
I have a very, very vague memory of swinging a plastic bag containing a heavy hard back book at my mothers’ spine. We’re talking infant school age here. I don’t know why I did it. She had to be carried to bed by my father and remained there for the rest of the evening. Thankfully she recovered.
Part 4 – throwing all my fathers’ tools down the drain.
Aged five I managed to prise open the lid of a drain at the back of our house. God knows how I did it; it’s a slab of concrete two by four feet in size and two inches thick. It probably weighs as much as a large man, and is definitely more awkward to lift. I threw pretty much everything to hand down there. I have a memory of my poor mother lying face down reaching into the hole desperately trying to retrieve a hammer.
Part 5 – painting my fathers’ car with creosote.
I take no blame for this one. If a man leaves an open tin of thick, black creosote next to his brand new white car WITH a brush what does he think will happen? I think being aged two when the incident occurred absolves me of all responsibility.
Part 6 – breaking into a brand new sideboard.
At roughly the same age I painted the car I successfully forced my way into a locked sideboard with a screwdriver. I was a very destructive child. The marks are still there to this day, much to my entire family’s annoyance.
Part 7 – being sought by a Yugoslav army.
I like this one. When we were on holiday in Yugoslavia (the summer between infant and primary school I estimate) I ran off on my own, my parents trusting me to stay nearby and not leave the grounds of the hotel in which we were staying. But I decided to go on a little adventure. On returning four hours later covered in mud my fraught-with-worry-but-sobbing-with-relief father told me in no uncertain terms to vanish again. He informed me that when I didn’t return within the hour he had contacted the local authorities who feared that I had been kidnapped by these weird hillbilly-Yugoslavs that allegedly lived in the forest not too far away from our hotel. A platoon of Yugoslav soldiers had been dispatched to find me.
Part 8 – offending a gay.
Aged seventeen I was on my way home from college on the E47 bus. It was crowded as usual. For some reason I started singing the following ditty:
OH MR SOFT, WHY DON’T YOU TELL ME WHY THE WORLD IN WHICH YOU LIVE IS SO FUCKING GAY?
There was no way I could have known that the college gay was sat yards away from me and blatantly heard what I was broadcasting to the entire lower deck. With hindsight it occurs to me that he probably thought I was directing it AT HIM.
Part 9 – being branded a cult member by Interpol.
I also like this one.
Aged approximately seventeen me and Paul Rafferty had American pen-pals. We used to e-mail these girls all the time and I actually came to close to heading over there to meet up with them. We used to them gifts via. international mail and they used to send us things in return. It was, to all intents and purposes, harmless and very good fun.
For some reason we sent one of these poor girls some bacon rind in an envelope and wrote on the envelope ‘SATAN LOVES YOU’ in black marker pen. It may have also featured a drawing of an inverted crucifix. About a week later heard reports back that the recipient had opened the envelope, started badly freaking out and actually called the police. The police came round to investigate, and upon seeing a photograph of me declared “that guy sure looks like he could be in a cult”. But he said nothing about Paul Rafferty (who was also in the photo).
Luckily, nothing came of this. I fear that if we repeated the stunt in today’s terrorism-mad climate I would have been hunted down like a dog.