It’s that time of year where it starts looking good: the trees are starting to get some foliage and the bluebells have just started to shoot up and blossom. In full bloom, it’s a beautiful sight and makes for a lovely walk.
But yesterday, as the mutt and I made our way round, I heard the cracking of branches. Peering through the trees, I could see four herberts – all aged about sixteen – breaking them from the trees. Then as I got closer, I could see that they were throwing them onto a fire that they had made around a tree.
I pushed my way through the undergrowth until I was about four or five meters away and from there I could see that the tree was well ablaze – surprisingly so, considering the recent rain and snow we’d had.
“Oi! What do you think you are doing?” I shouted at them. They all had hoods up, making it difficult to see their faces, especially through the smoke that was coming from the tree.
They all looked away from me, so as to hide their faces. “We’re just having a little fire to keep ourselves warm” said the short one.
“No you’re not!” I exclaimed, “You’re setting fire to that tree, you bloody idiots”.
“We’ll put it out later”, said the short, gobby one. There’s always a gobby one. “We’ve got some bottles of water.”
“A couple of bottles of water are not going to put THAT out!”. I needed to get rid of them, so I got my phone out. “Right, you just wait there”, I said.
“Fuck off!” A stick flew past my head and landed in the bush behind me, as they decided to flee before I called the police.
With them out of the way, I started to tackle the blazing tree: the way this fire was raging, there was no doubt in mind that, if left, it would consume the whole tree and possibly several of those around it.
Using a long stick at arms-length, I pulled and pushed apart the tee-pee of sticks they had rather expertly placed around the tree, helping to concentrate the flames at the base.
I beat and stamped the fire out until there was just ash and embers left. A couple of small fires kept self-igniting and I wondered how to stop them. Having the bladder of a small child, I’ll often stop for a pee as I walk round the woods, but this time, when I really needed it, I just didn’t want to go – not that it would have been enough.
And then I spotted a plastic 2 litre water bottle laying in the grass nearby. It must have been laying there for sometime, as the water inside had gone green. No matter: I quickly undid the lid and threw some into the smouldering embers.
I jumped back, as flames shot up into the air.
Petrol! Of course, that’s how they’d managed to get the fire to take so well. Little gits!
I spent a few more minutes putting out the fire I had just restarted and then headed home, taking the rest of the petrol with me – I wasn’t going to leave it so that they could come back later and try again.
All my clothes – including my coat – have had to go in the wash, as they stink of smoke.
Now, when I was a lad, me and my mates used to get up to mischief… of course we did, but we never did anything like that.
I might be starting to sound like an old man, but what is it with kids today?