Bombs and Ham baps.
I suppose it started just the same as any day started, dad would wake me up around 6am and as I went to get the papers from the front of the shop, he would get the tea on. After that I would lay down on the sofa for an hour while dad sorted out the paper deliveries. He would wake me up with a cup of tea and some mornings some toast. Our shop was just a few doors away from our house, beside the bar at the corner. That was the bar on the right hand corner, for the bar on the left had been McGurkís and by now that was gone.
That was the normal routine most mornings. That was our place in the scale of things, I would deliver the newspapers and dad would start working on getting the ham baps ready for the people working in the cigarette factory around the corner. Many of the workers from the factory would call at the shop early in the morning to buy the ham baps dad had cut and buttered, they found it easier doing that then getting up early to made their own lunches. Even in the mist of the madness that was going on around us, in the centre of the storm which was fast becoming known as the Troubles, people still had their need for newspapers and ham baps.
I had been our shop paperboy for a while now; no doubt me being the youngest of the boys in the family made it a no brainer when it came to deciding who got the job, although job is not the right term for it I suppose, for with a job there is usually some form of pay, not with this one there wasnít, well, not unless you count the extra bit of toast now and then. I didnít mind doing the papers, there was the odd person here and there who would, on a good day, give me a penny. And so it went, the papers were left outside the shop normally about 5.45am and I would get them by 6am.
That was the way it went, that was how we did it, that was until that morning; as normal I was called by dad and just as normally I got out of bed before I had awoke, yes I was on my feet and moving but to say I was awake would not really be the truth. As always I went downstairs and out the front door with little more than one eye open and fewer than two brain cells functioning. I have always thought that because I had done it so many times by now my body had found some way of doing it all on its own without the need for my brain to guide it; who knows? Anyway there I was, neither asleep or awake, stepping out onto our street and turning to walk towards the shop there was no sign of anything out of place, no sign that this morning was in anyway any different from any other morning, well, that was until those hands gripped me by my arms and lifted me of my feet as they pulled me backwards. Within no more than 10 seconds, no more than a few blinks of the eye, my eye or anybody elseís eye, about 20 thoughts ran through my mind and none of them was without deep fear.
The bad guys from the other end of our street have got me! The gunmen who have been driving around our area killing people have got me! Iím going to be killed! Iím going to be taken away and never be found again! Iím dead! That was just some of the many thoughts that had now taken over my mind and which were causing my arms and legs to start shaking out of control; that was shaking as much as they could given what those hands were still gripping my arms. As I felt myself, or to be correct, as I felt my head, hitting against something hard I seemed to become a little more awake, perhaps it was the knock on the head which kick-started a few more of my brain cells, but as I started to be able to take in some of what was going on around me I suddenly realized what it was not just an normal morning, I was not the only fool out on our street at this un-Godly time of morning, which was the case normally. No, I was not alone for there were about 9 police and army jeeps across the street, I mean right across the street blocking it off. There were about 10 peelers and even more brits all standing around and there was even a dog being held on a lead by one of the brits, and I had missed all of this! Yes some morning I really did get up without being awake.
It became clear to me what the hands which had gripped me and pulled me a little way up the street had belonged to a big peeler, he was now standing in front of me telling to ďjust stand there, donít moveĒ right like I was in any state to move, my legs shaking the way they where if I even tried to move my legs would go two different ways. The words had no sooner left his lips when the whole street filled with what remains the loudest noise I have ever heard in my life.
I have heard people before say how some sounds can fill the air around them and I know that to be true, they can, but this sound, this thunder, didnít just fill the air but rather it seemed to suck the very air in and to take its place. After the dust had settled, and my legs had started to work with me again, I move enough to look around the side of the hard thing my head had been hit against, which turned out to have been one of the many police jeeps I had missed seeing. Looking up the street a little, towards our house, towards the shop, I saw what had made the sound, I saw the front of our shop but not where it should have been, no now it was laying all over the middle of the street. The whole front of the shop, along with the whole front of the bar next door to it, was now filling up our street. Even to me in my still semi-waken state, it was clear what the noise had been a bomb and that the bomb had just destroyed both the shop and the bar next door.
The odd thing to me was the fact that even though the peelers and brits where there, even though all the families including my own, where still sleeping in their houses, houses which were right beside the shop and the bar, and even though we were only yards away from the shop, no one seemed to have been hurt, well apart from the bang on the back of my head which was now starting to make itself known to me, but there seemed to be no one hurt or killed and given the amount of damage done to the shop and the bar, given the roar of thunder which had gone before it, which had driven fear deep into to me, it seemed impossible to me how so much damage could be done and no one be hurt by it. Thank that was the case, but as the next few minutes unfolded the fear which was in me was to turn to an strange feeling of being sick, of feeling sick in my belly, for it was not long before the street was filled with the people running out of the houses, my dad being one of the first out, no doubt fearing what he was going to find there given what he knew I had just walked out on the street.
The feeling I was slowly starting to get came from something the peelers told us. The police had discovered the bomb just a few minutes before I had gone out the front door. They had discovered the bomb and had called in reinforcements to try and help with it. But they believed what they would not have enough time to clear the houses of people, they believed what they could be putting peopleís lives in more danger by getting them out onto the street where the bomb was, where the bomb may go off. So they blocked the street of just as I stepped out the front door, it must have could as an shock to them to suddenly see this 11 years old kid step right out between them and the bomb sitting down the street. And the bomb! Well that had been placed under the newspapers I was on my way to lift. The bombers had placed the bomb under the papers hoping that it would be set off by the person collecting the papers that morning. That was perhaps the one thing out of that whole morning which caused that feeling in me of being sick, it came about what the peelers had been trying to get their selves a freebie newspaper when they had discovered the bomb and had they not do so then it would have be down to the rather I was awake enough or not to have noticed the bomb under the papers before I had lifted them.
We stood around the street that morning for God knows how long, what was left of the shop and the bar was blocked off by the peelers and brits so there was nothing for any of us to do but wait on them finishing what they had to do before we could see what there was left of the stuff in the shop worth saving. That was that, the bar was gone, the shop was gone and the papers were gone, still they say you must try and look for the bright side of things, I did get the morning of school, I did get to tell my story to anyone who was willing to listen and the 7am paper deliveries were gone, yes sometimes life can be good!
This story is the personal recollection and understanding of an individual. Any views or opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the individual who recalled their story. Sharedtroubles is acting purely as a facilitator.