The Ballet Shoe

8 Dec

When in my early teens, my brother and I would often camp out in a tent – in our own back garden. Quite why we wanted to do this, I’m not sure, after all, sleeping in a tent is one of the most uncomfortable experiences a man can have, alongside snapping ones frenulum and being caught mid-wank. It always started off as a good idea, asking my mum if we could set the tent up and if we could have friends to stay round. We’d plan to stay up all night, enjoying a midnight feast and scaring each other with ghost stories. In reality though it was mostly rubbish; we’d fall asleep early and then wake in the middle of the night freezing our bollocks off. This particular night was different though; as I will go on to explain.

It was getting late, but it was still light as it was summer. My brother, cousin, Ashley and I sat in the tent discussing what sort of mischief we could get up to once my parents had gone to bed. I was scribe and was noting down the best ideas that we managed to come up with. Within half an hour, we had a pretty impressive list together of things that we could do, now we just had to wait for it to get dark. We passed the time taking the piss out of each other, dishing out dead arms, and talking about girls. When midnight eventually came, we unzipped the tent and checked the house: Result! All the lights were off meaning my parents were asleep.

Things started out innocently enough, as we dared each other to creep around the garden in the dead of night. Even though I knew we were in the safety of the back garden, it was quite eerie as any noises sound far scarier when you’re young and outside. We soon got bored of doing this though and decided to move onto the next suggestion; climbing into the neighbours’ gardens. The plan was to clamber over the fence, get into a garden and then return. This was pretty pointless in itself, but quite exciting to our young minds at the time as we were being rebellious and naughty.

Ashley volunteered to go first, and before we had really thought through what we were doing, he was over one fence and into the next garden. Peering over, we watched as he did a little jig on their patio, before scurrying back as quickly and quietly as he could. We dashed for the tent, and once inside, celebrated his achievements. Once we’d calmed down, we took it in turns to repeat the feat, and the adrenaline rush was great – better than eating 4 Slush Puppies in one go. Before long however, the euphoria of simply getting into the next door’s garden had disappeared and we needed something new to quench our new found thirst for being daring.

It was decided between the group that we should climb over not one fence, but over two, and then take something from that garden. We agreed that it was best if we carried out this operation in pairs. Reluctantly, I agreed to go first, and I chose my cousin to join me. We unzipped the tent once more, and felt the now cool night air against our faces. I puffed my cheeks out, ‘Let’s do this!’ I whispered.

 Getting over the first fence was easy. We’d both done it earlier in the night and we slipped over confidently. I felt like a professional burglar as I dropped down effortlessly into the next-door neighbour’s garden. My cousin joined me on the other side of the fence, the sound of him dropping to the ground cushioned by his slippers. We crouched down behind some plants and discussed our next move. On the other side of the fence, my brother and Ashley peered through a crack and watched us.

“Follow me”, I said, and I tiptoed at a good pace across the garden, completing the journey with an army roll as I reached the other side. My cousin obliged and we were now up against the next fence hurdle. The fence wasn’t too high as I could reach the top easily with my hands, but it was very wobbly once I’d pulled myself up. As I tried to scurry over, I made quite a lot of noise as my feet bashed against the wooden fence. I landed with a thump on the other side, and lay down low bracing myself for a light to come on. I could hear my heart thumping inside my chest, but nothing else; I hadn’t disturbed the owners of the garden I was now in.

“Ok, mate, come over”.

My cousin began his ascent over the fence. I tried to hold it steady to make it as easy as possible for him to get over. As he got one leg up and over the fence, a light came on in the garden he was leaving. We both saw it and instantly shit ourselves, in the metaphorical sense. The huge shock from the light coming on forced my cousin over the fence and he landed on top of me on the other side. He rolled off and we sat in silence, waiting to receive a telling off.  I could hear my brother calling us, so sensing everything was fine, we peered back over the fence. It was a cat that had set off the security light! We were safe, for now.

The next stage of the mission was to find something in the garden that we could take back as a memento from our journey. I spotted a rather impressive garden gnome sat on a raised brick wall which separated the lawn and patio.

“That’ll do”, I said, pointing the gnome out to my cousin, and within seconds I was scurrying off on all fours to retrieve it. The mission was almost complete, now we just had to get back. My cousin clambered back over into the first garden and I passed over the gnome. Once again, I found the wobbly fence hard to scale, and I pretty much fell off the top of it and landed on the other side. We sprinted across the garden to the next fence – we were almost home!

My brother took the gnome from us and we climbed over the fence in unison. Once over, we made for the tent, and as before, we zipped it up and sat quietly, waiting to see if we’d disturbed anyone. The gnome was hid inside a sleeping bag as a safety precaution. Two minutes passed without incident, and we decided it was ok to celebrate. High-fives were dished out and then our prize was unveiled in front of torch light. The gnome was about a foot high, and brightly coloured. He had a joyful look on his face. I decided to name him Simon.  After much deliberation about whether or not we should return Simon, we decided against it, instead challenging my brother and Ashley to repeat our feat as previously agreed. Initially they were both against it, so we told them of the treasures that lay in the garden from where Simon came, and this seemed to the incentive they needed to agree to the challenge. We stepped outside again.

 Ashley was over the first fence in no time at all. He is a very good climber, frog like in technique. My brother soon followed and I was impressed by the speed at which they were going and also at how quietly they were doing it. Being best friends, they seemed to have a telepathic understanding of how they were going to go about their mission. They were quickly across the first garden and now at the wobbly fence. It was hard to make out exactly what they were doing through the crack in our fence which we were watching the events unfold, but I could see Ashley up and over the fence as quickly as before, followed by my brother who looked as if he had stood on something to help him get over. We waited for about two minutes, and then saw them both running back on their return, so we headed for the tent to wait for them. In they scurried, and lay down, laughing to themselves.

“Come on then, let’s see what you managed to get”, my cousin asked.

They looked at one another, and then Ashley revealed their plunder; a solitary silver ballet shoe.

 “Why the fuck did you steal that?” we asked, laughing at what they had brought. “You could have taken one of Simon’s friends!”

“We just saw it and thought it would be funny”, they replied. They looked disappointed at our underwhelming reception of the ballet shoe.

“Well what are we meant to do with one ballet shoe? It’s not even cool like Simon is?”

“Well I’ve got an idea”, my brother piped up, and we listened intently to the plan…

 Ten minutes later, we all emerged from the tent. It was now pitch black and very cold outside, but we continued with our shenanigans regardless. A path led from the garden up the side of the house and out into the front of the house. We crept in single file out onto the drive with Simon the Gnome and ballet show in tow. We decided to walk 5 minutes up the road so that any prank that we now played would be less likely to be traced to us. First of all, the ballet shoe was placed strategically on the front lawn of someone’s garden. In it, we placed a hand written note which read,

‘ CONGRATULATIONS! This ballet shoe has been dropped randomly from the Radio 1 helicopter. If you find this ballet shoe, you are the lucky winner of a holiday of a lifetime. Please phone Radio 1 immediately to claim your prize!’

 Not exactly the prank of a lifetime, but it made us chuckle at the thought of somebody following the instructions left on the ballet shoe through. We then walked further afield and it was time to say goodbye to Simon the Gnome. We opted to leave him right on the doorstep of a house so that he couldn’t be missed by the occupants in the morning. The note however was changed. This time, it simply read;

‘CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE A CUNT!’

 Camping is overrated.

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