After being summoned to JW's study not long after three of the best for the demolition attempt of the swimming baths and for nicking a length of steel rod from the blacksmith shop to make a spear this time I went prepared - a sheet of 4inch steel plate stuffed down inside my trousers - well, a sheet of blotting paper anyway...

So after the weakest knock possible on his study door all I heard was a incoherent mumbling, then silence, more mumbling, the scraping of what sounded like a chair being dragged across the floor ( which it was ) more mumbling, a brief silence, then the unmistakable swish of a cane, the distinctive crack and the even more distinctive yelp of pain. Six of the best was underway and suddenly my single sheet of blotting paper seemed hopelessly inadequate that would need reinforcing by at least another ten sheets if I was to survive just one of those strokes let alone six !

When it was over more mumbling followed then a red screwed up face emerged into the hallway hopelessly fighting back tears as he clasped the remaining remnants of the seat of his trousers followed by JW who on spotting me just standing there enquiered -

Downes isn't it, do you wish to see me about something - ah yes, somthing to do with an iron bar isn't ? come in

Then once the bravest part of me had entered his study leaving the least bravest part of me - everything from the neck down - outside to follow when and whenever it was ready to all in its own good time I was asked in a non threatening manner " Now my boy, what possible interest can a stolen length of iron bar have to a boy that might result in a very painful interlude if you can't give me a really good reason " as we both glanced at his cane now cooling down on his desk.

Well Sir I stammered in my most pleading bleat "The catch on the rabbit club door was broken so I took the iron bar to slide between the hasps to keep the doors shut and the rabbits all cosy and safe "I hopelessly lied as he reached for his cane.

"Well young Downes - it is Downes isn't it ? He prompted as he put his cane back behind the tall bookcase in the corner.

That's the most excellent and most pathetic explanation I have ever heard or ever likely to - but I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and a warning that any more such nonsense will result in six of the best so off with you before I change my mind !

And without having to be told twice, I was out of that study like a bolt of greased lightening and off to check out the rabbit club doors with their perfect door handles and locks at the same time as congratulating myself on my close escape but - there were several more future encounters to follow where in those cases my luck more than run out and much to my regret !

Dizzy D

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