Monday, January 5th
In bed, even before he opened
his eyes, Simeon Hogg knew something was different.
Softness had descended
upon his world which, mysteriously, magically had become
still and completely quiet.
Curious, he dragged
himself out of bed, blinked against brightness and
stumbled over to the window looking out onto an alien
landscape with sculptured curves of sparkling brilliance.
It used to be the
garden; now it was fairyland.
Peace and tranquillity
presided over a new enchantment of beauty where everything
had been purified, even the very air itself.
It was cold: an iron grey
penetrating cold so typical of a 1958 English
working-class bedroom in early January.
Cold struck up through
the dull pre-war linoleum forcing a sudden scramble for
his putters [slippers] and another scramble for a dressing
gown urgently pulled around his pyjamas.
Now it was more comfortable to
return to the frosted window and give this new world a
He wondered at an
environment where shrubs and dustbins had been adorned by
a thick cover of gleaming ermine enhanced by sparkling
That was the back.
What of the front?
He tiptoed out past the
parental bedroom, down the stairs to the first floor which
looked out over Red Lion Square.
A foot of snowfall and
drifts of three to four times that amount had put the
world on hold.
A sudden joy of realisation
gladdened his heart!
On this special day,
there would be no school, no torment and no pain.
The world was silent and
There were no cars, no
busses and no people at the point where three busy main
roads met in the centre of Heanor, a gritty hill-top
coal-mining community in south eastern Derbyshire.
the boy in
Simeon scurried back to his bedroom, donned his vest,
shirt, woolly pullover, his ‘Tommy Steele’ powder blue
close fitting jeans, thick socks, boots and his recently
acquired Christmas present from Guzzly Granddad, a warm
fleecy-lined leather bomber jacket.
He dashed out to enjoy freedom
crunching through deserted streets at every turn
transformed into pretty Christmas cards.
He rejoiced at the fall
of yet more snow!
Huge flakes gently descended,
alighting and tickling a smiling face; smiling because
days of chaos and school closure was now more likely to
assist his plan of escape.
This same snow brought cold,
chaos, danger - to a few, even death.
But this boy was
thinking of life.
He would gain stolen
An enforced natural
festival of white and light closed Mundy Street Boys
School and hundreds of schools in Derbyshire.
Snow gladdened the
hearts of thousands of pupils like Simeon who are
perceived to be ‘different’.
They would be granted a
respite from a daily routine of humiliation and despair
which, just a few weeks before, had brought Simeon to the
edge of self destruction.
At long last this carefully
planned day had arrived.
It was Monday, January 5th
Overnight – a magical
fairyland of cold white had descended to transform dingy,
fog-bound Heanor into a glittering glade of promise
cheering Simeon’s heart.
The world had gone quiet
– a wonderful chance to escape – his heart was singing.
All schools were closed.
All were indoors.
All cruel bullies were
locked in by the grip of winter.
The world was on hold.
Like the fog, an unusual
heavy fall of snow gave protection to a vulnerable child
crunching, plodding through an immense whiteness to a hot
hearty breakfast at Guzzly Granddad’s house.
With a cold sadness, Old Simeon
recalled his hurried exit from the family flat into that
sunlit world of sparkling brilliance.
Never once did he look
‘You didn’t consider saying
goodbye to your folks?’ said a friend years later.
His tone held a note of
incredulity and disapproval.
The runaway left at
about 8am and the ‘folks’ were still asleep – or so he
suggested people who are warm and caring.
Over the previous 25
days, increasingly, Mr and Mrs Hogg had seen less and less
of the son who had entered a different world and
discovered a new happiness, a new meaning to life.
He had come alive!
They appeared to notice
no change: with no communication it was hardly surprising.
Guzzly Granddad was different
His embrace was more
than usually powerful, emotional and completely platonic.
On release, his Piggy
(Granddad’s pet name for Simeon) looked into old rheumy
They were tearful
showing a painful concern for the child to be sent on a
long trek in a foot of snow.
For the last few weeks
within the circle of Granddad’s chums there had been
mutterings about the advisability of sending an
inexperienced boy alone on a day’s hike across
Derbyshire’s hills and dales - even in ideal conditions.
Granddad was concerned.
What was going on in his
Unlike Chunky, he knew
Piggy had been well cared for and well fed.
ragged rascal, was one of the old man’s gang members, well
schooled in rude requirements.
Simeon Hogg was moderately fit
with benefit of reasonable exercise – however, this boy
was not used to long walks over rough terrain.
Gentle Giant Oaf had
already raised the issue of vague directions given to a
youngster unlikely to reach a heavily disguised secret
destination somewhere in deepest Derbyshire.
This Herculean hulk, in
softly spoken tones, had expressed serious concerns about
the future of Granddad’s piglet.
Old Simeon concluded his
old Granddad must have been seriously troubled by these
important considerations on that morning of deep snow.
But Piggy could never be
dissuaded from the plan which had been carefully set out
to save him from Mundy Street Boys School and indifferent
parents at 4 Red Lion Square.
Granddad knew that.
His boy had been
promised a new home with another paedophile who, Piggy
understood, had consented to receive an extra into his
With restrictions of
security, no telephone and no proper postal address;
communication between Granddad’s bum chums was a mystery.
Old Simeon assumed all
messages were spoken, never written.
Old Granddad was an outlaw
living daily life on the edge of potential disaster.
He knew what happened in
prison to men like him.
He was a survivor.
Accordingly, with a
heavy heart, he made sure Piggy consumed a big fried
breakfast on a hot plate followed by two large mugs of hot
Stonch was also anxious.
Stonch was not exactly an
adult, more late teens, possibly an old boy from Mundy
Street Boys School.
This hard-working well
built youth, snuffled, sniffed, cooked, cleaned and washed
clothes for Guzzly Granddad and his motley collection of
Hard faced, scar faced:
the flaxen haired Stonch had a heart of gold.
It took a while to
that heart of gold.
It seemed a long time
since he had first pressed the piglet into sexual service
in the Heanor Market Place public lavatory.
With mixed feelings,
Simeon recalled looking up into that lustful leer which,
at the time, seemed more cruel than kind.
Suddenly, Stonch realised Piggy
was short of a vital piece of equipment for his arctic
He rummaged through an
old box of clothing under Granddad’s bed to retrieve a
pair of thick warm gloves.
These were forcibly
affixed on piggy paws as he was about to be ejected out of
the door into what could have been a pretty Christmas
Smaller feral boys,
Monks and Muckles up the sun dazzled garden were called
away from their snowman, enthusiastically under
It was important to
acknowledge Piggy’s launch into unknown territory.
‘He’s going a long way.
Give him a hug,’ ordered
the old man.
Granddad and Stonch scrutinised
the arctic explorer checking off all essential equipment.
Boots, thick socks,
woolly hat (one size too large), thick pullover and thick
scarf were all snugly enclosed in an expensive
fleece-lined bomber-jacket powerfully zipped up to jaw
The hiker was proud of
his quality deluxe rucksack.
It was adjustable,
perhaps a touch large for Piggy the boy, but would be a
perfect fit for the teenager he would become in seven
Indeed, throughout the century
and into the 21st
century, that Cresta Deluxe was a long lasting invaluable
piece of equipment.
On its first outing it
was empty, but for two packets of sandwiches (lunch and
afternoon tea), several chocolate bars as ‘iron rations’
and several large oranges in lieu of a drink.
Stonch - the randy
pock-marked ruffian - had thought of everything.
Granddad, Stonch, Monks and
Muckles waved off their Piggy and watched him crunch along
the garden path, past the sparkling snowman, past the
newly adorned big trees into deeper snow.
Each step sounded a
crunch of compaction as if the snow were complaining of
being crunched to ice.
He turned round several
times to acknowledge the wave.
They waved and waved
until he was out of sight.
It took all of Simeon’s
will-power not to run back to his beloved Granddad and the
good people who loved him.
He came to a halt.
Suddenly his body
convulsed and he broke down, shaking, giving way to
violent sobs which took away his breath.
But it didn’t matter.
No one was watching.
It was private grief.
There was no
He had to press on.
later years, when Simeon struggled to reconcile Granddad’s
love with his predatory lust, he had only to recall that
last special day of January 5th
Guzzly Granddad was a
hardened paedophile, but Simeon had touched something
inside the old man.
He loved his old
And Granddad (perhaps
against his better judgement) definitely loved his Piggy
with a platonic love somewhat higher than his lust.
This can be said of the
other three who had received and welcomed a novice into
the erotic family.
The snow showers had passed
over leaving an intense blue sky, so typical of January
The sparkling brilliance
of low winter sun illuminated a distant tower piercing the
roof of Derbyshire.
As he made slow heavy
boot-prints through the terraced streets of the old town,
Simeon recalled Oaf’s words.
‘You need to keep a simple map
in your head.
Do you know of a high a
place called Crich Stand?
It’s like a great finger
piercing the clouds.’
The tower was crystal clear, in
perfect focus to the north-west surmounting a stony
This prominence, a
famous landmark on a wind-whipped ridge would be Simeon’s
beacon guiding him to his new home.
The streets of Heanor were now
He was in open whiteness
trudging up a gentle incline known as Denby Common with
views to Denby / Kilburn to his left and Loscoe / Codnor
to his right.
These villages, in
shadow of pit hills, featured iconic pit wheels marking a
winding engine house above each colliery mine shaft.
King Coal was the life
and blood of Heanor.
From his earliest memories,
Simeon’s world had been imprinted with images of
blackened, dowdy cloth capped workmen making their way to
and from coal mines.
Snap tins [food] and
billycans [drink] hung from strong leather belts.
Kneepads strapped to
legs and the sound of pit boots clanking along the
pavement were familiar to the boy who was expected to join
relatives being lowered into the bowels of the earth.
Simeon had grown up with
the horror of joining countless ghosts haunting the coal
face along miles of subterranean passageways.
These were muscular dust
encrusted men who suffered and sweated long dark hours
under long gone green fields.
But today, nature had
ennobled the common pit hills with a thick coat of
gleaming ermine and decorated headgear and headstocks with
Distant tower showed the way.
He lumbered on in
This was a blessing.
The awful truth would
Obstacles of hedge,
fence and deep drifts causing numerous detours and
difficulties extended his journey several miles and slowed
progress to a rate less than one mile an hour.
Granddad’s estimate of
arrival in daylight would prove to be hopelessly
He crossed a small snow-blocked
Several fields further
on, a main road in a shallow valley covered with
impassable virgin snow was disturbed as he stomped onwards
re-orientating towards Crich.
Simeon had no watch but
judged it to be about noon – time for his first
He was not cold.
Hard work and adequate
covering maintained a comfortable temperature.
The next two and half hours
continued the theme of an endless blinding whiteness under
a clear sky save for an occasional glimpse of a distant
farm house with snowy roof.
All were silent –
deserted – no movement – nobody at all.
The world had been put
The tower, as far away
as ever, seemed to be mocking his lamentable lack of
In his original directions,
Granddad advised him to look out for the village of
Marehay and the straggling community of Street Lane.
Nothing like appeared,
but a huddled collection of homes answering the
description of Heage came into view casting long shadows
to the north east by a declining sun and deepening blue
He caught a distant sound, a
cry, a shout – possibly children at play sledding down a
That was a big change!
He had gradually
ascended an inclined plain with few features, but now, as
he lumbered further towards the all important tower, a
massive deep valley opened up before him.
Up and beyond the tower,
a grey sky started to glow with a warm hue of gold.
The sun was breaking
Breaking through what?
Simeon suddenly realised
this was not a good sign.
His perfect sky with its
perfect sunny view of distant Crich was changing.
Entering the village,
alarmingly his precious light began to fail in the most
Perfect round curves of
pure white were renewed by falling flakes of a million
Snow specks morphed into
large slow clumps which, in turn, joined to make larger
Some descended straight
down quickly, others at angles swirled by eddies and
others fascinated with fantastical corkscrews.
Some twisted and spun –
all were delightful.
Some tickled his face,
some stung with wet cold.
Village shrubs already
embellished from the morning fall were now fast becoming
obese white lumps.
And still the snow came.
Distance ceased to exist.
In the near distance a
light greyness dissolved into a dark greyness.
The dark outline of
winter trees was speckled by a living veil of falling
The silence was supreme.
Yet again, the air had
Hard dirty Heanor was
far behind - but Crich Stand had disappeared and it was
Snow had been heavy – now
lighter, but with increasing strength of wind.
For the first time,
Simeon began to feel cold – and afraid.
Faint lights from
windows, evidence of humanity.
Should he knock at the
door and beg for shelter?
Another house sported a
powerful electric lamp above its front door when a gust of
wind blew lighter snow from its roof.
This caused an
flickering, swirling fine ice flew in every direction like
Behind him, suddenly, a sound!
In a small field, a
bright orange Aberdeen Angus reflected the bright light.
It stood silently,
studying the winter backpacker.
Simeon stared back.
He feared the wicked
looking horns, but took comfort from kind warm brown eyes.
He indulged in a brief
fantasy of cuddling up to it in a cosy hay barn.
Temporarily, the snow
He pressed on.
He noticed deteriorating light
had been replaced with a bluish light from old virgin snow
which speckled and glinted with an eerie intense grey.
This ghostly hue,
reflected from a full moon, shone through a clearing sky.
At the same time, the
remaining glimmer of sunset highlighted a blackbird – its
small black figure darting to and fro in and out of a
brave cold tree.
Two distant figures with
a smaller one - two boys and a dog? – were moving around a
far field above the village.
The dog kept vanishing
in deep snow.
Cold wind forced Simeon
on – on and down – ever down to further darkness.
Here the adventurer learned
something about night-time snow-walking.
Once eyes had adjusted,
visibility was no problem.
Sheer white brilliance
of snow possessed its own luminance.
He could see exactly
where he was trudging.
With a bright moon, he
could discern a good deal of hinterland with landmarks.
Alas, this did not
include the old windmill Granddad had mentioned.
As Oaf predicted, Simeon
was hopelessly lost.
Suddenly a cheerful thought!
It was the recollection
of food still reposing in the rucksack, when his eye
caught a patch of darkness within the eternity of
practically a hole in deep snow had formed on the lee side
of a massive gnarled oak.
Here, he descended
several feet to sit and rest his back against the giant
Fumbling within, he
retrieved and munched on Stonch’s sandwiches, two
chocolate bars and three oranges thoughtfully included for
Simeon’s afternoon tea.
In that shelter, bitter
easterly wind abruptly abated leaving a relatively cosy
den for a young lad to contemplate those left behind.
He was missing his friends.
Playing with orange
peel, he became almost tearful remembering affectionate
cuddles with the sniffling youth who looked after them
And now they all seemed
so very far away – regular visitor Sandy with his cute
button nose, Granddad’s grey stubble reflecting,
flickering reds and yellows from that ever hot, ever
Looking at the depth of
snow in his hole, he imagined the fun helping his ‘little
brothers’, to build the biggest snowman in Heanor.
And Heanor Market Place
in freezing fog – Oaf had hugged Simeon with warmth and
affection which was something close to love.
Now all so far away.
Through deepening snow, he
slogged on, despoiling older virgin snow which flashed and
winked under that bitterly cold moon.
Occasional dry stone
walls, almost hidden, were obstacles which made his
increasingly difficult journey chaotic and dangerous.
And, little by little,
thick gloves and expensive boots failed in their job to
warm fingers which felt like icicles and feet felt like
blocks of ice.
The snow was all-powerful but
for places where it failed to conquer.
These appeared as black
cavities in root systems, mysterious nooks and crannies
which might shelter small creatures desperately trying to
survive – just as Simeon was now trying to survive.
Presently he came across a
sunken path enclosed by dry stone walls adorned and choked
Shelter from the
elements created snow-free black spots in the wall and
It was very Christmassy,
could have been a Christmas card.
Rampant ivy climbed up
beyond the wall and appeared to turn itself into a tree.
In fact, it had hijacked
Simeon had never heard
Had he been less cold,
less tired and less miserable, he might have gleaned some
comfort from hawthorn with blood red berries against a
background of black stems and wizened black leaves –
pretty as a picture.
The spiritual side of
this damaged soul derived a measure of hazy comfort from
pagan midwinter festivals of long ago.
He came on a stand of beech and
maple, eastern facing boughs painted white - and still the
snow was unrelenting.
Flakes were getting
larger, bigger, falling faster.
sculptures overhung in precarious folds.
Bare branches were
decorated for a second Christmas, more beautiful than any
Snow on snow made
evergreens weigh heavily straining limbs.
An old oak, beautifully
adorned, had never looked so good – but Simeon had never
been so cold.
He was almost too cold to
notice the sound of a river, the sight of which was
obscured by zero visibility due to an advancing army of
Not the big older river he had
been told not to
cross, this had a younger energetic flow.
Through the blizzard, he
bent forward and trudged on.
Simeon resolved he would bang
and kick hard on the next house door.
He would shout and
scream until the occupant came out.
He would beg for shelter –
assuming, of course, he could
As confidence waned,
gradually, the hiker began to reassess the general
It seemed less important
to find an effeminate old man in a carefully hidden
caravan with the sing-song voice.
The prospect had never
Old Louie’s boys in that
dank overgrown quarry were said to be underfed and always
He was in this predicament
because Guzzly Granddad had expelled him – sent him out
alone on this terrible trek.
In Simeon’s hearing, Oaf
warned Granddad of a high probability of failure with
This runaway could not
reconcile Granddad’s professed affection with a plan
taking him away from that ever-burning warming fire.
Amid the kindred spirits
of his newly found cordial family, there had been
security, pleasure and kindness.
But Simeon, still months from
birthday, was unable to comprehend the stress and anxiety
of adults fearful of brutal punishment in a 1958
Simeon’s last memory on that
day - a vague feeling of climbing up through a steep wood.
So very tired, he sat
down and rested by the trunk of another large tree using
his rucksack as a pillow.
Only weeks before, he
contemplated an escape from a life which had become
That plan of suicide was
Now, bitterly cold,
tired and dejected, he feared an approach from an Angel of
Death who would offer no choice at all.
He recalled the sadness of
Scott of the Antarctic.
Eagerly read by
candlelight in Granddad’s upstairs toy room, certain lines
‘Cold, hungry and weak, these
brave men listened to the endless freezing blizzard raging
outside their tent.
With quiet fortitude
they awaited death in scenes of whirling drift.’
Scott’s last diary entry – ‘The
end cannot be far’.
Months later, their
frozen bodies were found.
The author described the
process of death by extreme cold.
‘You feel terribly cold for a
There comes a point when
you don’t feel cold at all.
In fact, just before the
very end, there descends a comfortable warmth and serene
These were Simeon’s meditations before drifting into
unconsciousness - into the arms of Morpheus – the god of
dreams and sleep.
The last few months of 1957
became an intolerable abyss for a child who was trapped
inside his personal hell with no support and no hope.
In this Church of
England institution he was subjected to a daily routine of
physical and psychological torture.
His day started with
prayers and hymns and ended with a desire to be dead.
Every day, one damaged
boy endured humiliating experiences affording no mercy.
A sadistic schoolmaster
encouraged aggressive taunts, brutal insults, screaming
jeers reducing an already wretched boy to a very low level
of self esteem.
And all that was
dismissed as ‘part of growing up’.
The Hoggs had been
lumbered with a lad who was ‘not a proper lad’.
A son who showed no
interest in football and could not defend himself with
bare knuckles in the playground brought dishonour upon his
working class family.
later, on annual vacations Simeon would return to this
begrimed and rather seedy little community which never
failed to fascinate.
This was the place where he had known agony,
eroticism and ultimately - ecstasy: the place where he had
been hated, loved, used and abused.
He would walk over to the cruel Dickensian Mundy
Street Boys School and look on, savouring an inexplicable
kind of ghoulish compulsion.
It was rather like watching a horror film, but
knowing you were perfectly safe, because now, Mr Hogg, the
respected schoolmaster, was half a century and an ocean
away from that nightmarish regime.
Old Simeon often looked into his old playground, a dismal
hard flat area bereft of any comforting foliage.
He noted the very places where he had been taunted,
shamed and brought low with pig grunts.
In the 'rough and tumble' of the Heanor code of
ethics, a boy who would not fight was regarded with
contempt and soon fell to the bottom of the pecking order.
Simeon was soft: Simeon was 'fair game'.
He looked at the high classroom window and
re-played several excruciating incidents of public
ridicule which were frequently engineered by a sadistic
schoolmaster - incidents such as the time when this master
read out one of his compositions and encouraged uproarious
laughter and shouting catcalls.
Inside that hard, unfeeling building, he had been
phlegmed on and remembered feeling sick and broken in the
struggle to clean off the disgusting thick mucus.
He remembered being urinated upon – several times.
He remembered being made to smell a ruler which had
been drawn over the anus of a bully.
The same bully, in front of other boys, forced him
to acknowledge sexual slurs about his mother.
Cruel words, but there was
Dead-legging was a well
aimed kick into the side of the leg which rendered it
useless for about a minute bringing the victim down.
Winding was a sharp
punch into the stomach making a boy unable to draw breath
and ear-screaming happened so frequently Simeon suffered a
lifelong hearing loss – in both ears.
This all contributed to
the psychological damage sustained in that Christian gulag
which was always excused as ‘a part of growing up’.
Head bowed and eyes downcast,
Simeon had reached an advanced stage of humility and
obedience to the bullies who had - broken him.
It was the end.
Friday, December 6th
1957, the day the Americans made their first failed
attempt to launch a satellite, leaning out of that second
floor bedroom window over Red Lion Square, he was trying
to find the courage to jump.
Simeon's timid and gentle disposition was such that
physical force was rarely needed to bring him to heel in
Encouraged by the all-powerful schoolmaster, other
boys found him a convenient target.
Sanctioned by that same authority which was
supposed to protect him, other boys felt perfectly
justified in giving the screw one turn after another - and
then - perhaps - just another turn.
It was easy to find a tender spot, to touch just
the right nerve.
A favourite nerve was the Promised Land.
Young Simeon had a great passion for the USA.
One day he would go there.
One day he would be happy.
Friday, December 6th 1957 was a particularly
bad day for this frightened child and millions of
Headline news reported the United States had made a failed
attempt to launch its first artificial earth satellite.
Newsreel footage showed a Vanguard Rocket crumpling
back to ground amid an inferno of exploding flames at Cape
Canaveral after achieving barely ten foot.
The tiny 14 kilogram sphere in the top cone was
still pathetically sending out its radio bleeps when the
smoking stricken vessel lay prostrate.
The schoolmaster, in a school which had yet to convert to
electricity, made comment on this exciting futuristic
reminded his class, only two months before; the Soviet
Union had astonished the world.
For the first time ever, they put into orbit an
artificial 'moon', six times heavier than the sad little
He added further weight to the Russian cause by
drawing attention to the ground-breaking event of November
The Communists had launched a device thirty times
heavier containing a doomed dog called Laika.
It was sent to test conditions for the first manned
The thrust of this lesson was to show that the Americans
were well behind in the space race.
Other boys took full advantage as they loudly
leered, jeered, hooted and mock machine-gunned one
miserable little boy in their midst, who, although
suffering internal agonies, was still trying to put on a
This conduct was tolerated, nay
The ordeal ran its full course.
A popular record sung by Perry Como ran -
‘Catch a falling
star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day.’
A revised version
was sung at Simeon in the playground -
falling satellite and put it in a matchbox, send it to the
Having brought their victim to a very low point of esteem
and easy malleability, it was now possible for one
particular boy (with the reputation of being a 'dirty
sod') to put his slave to good use in this all boys
school, this culture of cruelty which was also a culture
Groping was commonplace and 'ticker-on-balls' a
favourite game in the school-yard.
It was only a matter of time before Simeon - broken
in spirit, pliable and obedient to his masters - was
ordered into the boys’ lavatory.
Simeon never forgot the appalling stench of that filthy
Depressing Victorian brick walls were decorated with
stinking lines drawn by crayons of excreta.
As far as possible, to avoid a visit, he ignored
the call of nature and, as a result, suffered constipation
for the rest of his life.
Looking back over the years (with an honest smile)
he admitted that these coerced erotic activities became
more and more agreeable, albeit in such a malodorous
‘Didn't need to be
threatened the next day!’ laughed Simeon to a friend years
no mistake; in front of others he was often very nasty to
me. But in the
dark and silence of that reeking WC, I suppose Sandy was
as near to a friend as I was ever likely to get.’
‘You couldn't have been
very old. What
was it like?’
‘What was it like?
It was a form of ... sensual sanctuary.
It was exciting.
I was very excited!
So was he.
Nothing elaborate, quite simple, two lads
satisfying mutual curiosity.
Gentle examination with little touches, strokes,
caresses, pats and pets.’
Simeon stared into the infinite distance.
‘Could have been yesterday.
It's odd, but ... I can still recall his body scent
... I can smell it now ... ’
Boy was he ever cute!
Not much room; we were very close in there.
Turned-up nose, sweet little button nose.
Light sandy hair. Freckles ...
Yes, very close, face to face - but it never got
friendlier than that.
The action was down below, down in the hairless,
milky white, nether regions.’
‘Did you cum?’
‘At the age of eleven!
No, not for a long time, but ... well, it did
happen - eventually - to me.
We were both quite shocked - and him none too
pleased. Got a
bit messy then.’
Simeon never spoke to anybody about that
other boy, the
bigger dark boy who, in the end, nearly pushed him over
the edge. The
Big Boy was not so bad at first - a simple command was
easily complied with.
‘There's a pencil in my
your hand in.’
Rather more one-sided than his usual partner, this was a
different task but just as interesting.
Raggy britches [breeches], often handed down from
older brothers, seldom had sound pockets.
But at Mundy Street Boys School power had nothing
to do with smart dress.
Power was established by force of personality and,
more important, force of the bravery and skill of bare
knuckle fist fights in the play-ground.
This high ranking pupil was a particular favourite
of the schoolmaster and, just as long as his disciple was
receiving pleasure, Simeon was useful and relatively safe.
It happened at Big Boy's bidding - in the lavatory,
in the playground, even in the classroom - often in the
the few minutes duration, it had a beginning, middle and a
wet sticky conclusion when the worker was usually thanked
with – ‘Get lost.’
The beginning looked innocent - just two boys sitting side
by side apparently absorbed with work, writing in an
The middle would see the larger boy's penmanship get
slower, become less accurate, less steady.
Having achieved so little in his short miserable
life, Simeon noted these subtle changes to his desk-mate
and became intrigued with the practical, pleasing results
of his own delicate handiwork.
Subtle changes to Big Boy's breathing were noted -
unsteady, slightly deeper and more intense.
Occasionally the servant would steal a glance at the face
of his close master who was attempting to maintain an air
of detached industriousness but, affected by ever mounting
ecstasy, was gradually failing.
Just for these precious moments, Simeon, working
skilfully with his soft, sensitive, naughty little hand -
it was he who now had the power: the power to speed up or slow down: the
power to fumble, fondle and seek out those special little
places, special little favourite places - the nooks and
crannies of bliss.
Eventually the subject had ceased all pretence to write.
His eyes were half closed, legs slowly widening,
lifting, plus small changes in posture to improve ease of
At this familiar point Simeon would look upon that face: a
face handsome rather than cute: a face darkened by
sporting hours under the 1957 sunshine: a face in seventh
heaven but too ashamed to look upon the face of his adept
and conscientious servicer: a face more and more
transported with sexual euphoria...
The end was near.
The end had to be near. That
deft little hand, wet and gooey with excited dribble, was
too clever, too cunning in technique.
Simeon was accustomed to the signs, the opening
mouth and a low, slow, barely audible moan ...
Sometimes a gruff
'finish it' was uttered in a shaking whispered voice.
Sometimes it was an urgent breathy order.
Sometimes that weak adolescent croak was almost
Sometimes it could not be articulated.
The climax subsided and so did the protection.
A thin shabby little boy wiped his hand on his drab
post-war pullover, slunk away back to his usual desk,
hoping, once again, not to be noticed by any opportunistic
But, for a few boys at Mundy Street, the fun went on and
on - as on that terrible grey cold morning when Simeon,
possibly for the first time ever, combed his hair.
Simeon was alone, always alone.
As usual, for security, he made himself as small as
possible, his back pressed hard up against the school
he watched Big Boy and his small Mafia of thugs stroll by.
Even in fear, he was unable to keep his eyes off
the well proportioned Big Boy who, so nicely, filled out
those raggy britches of which he was so very familiar.
But this was an unkind hour.
Having noticed the neat hair, three lads detached
themselves from the group and confronted him.
Just for a moment Big Boy looked over and, just for
a moment, Simeon hoped he might intercede to prevent the
But nothing was done to stop that vicious and total
humiliation of ruffled hair, pokes, pushes, pig grunts,
jeers and sadistic twisted leers from that cruel gathering
congregation of amused faces.
A whistle stopped the show.
Blown by a schoolmaster, this was the command for
all boys to freeze and be silent.
A second blow was the command for all boys to
walk, not run to
their class lines.
A whistle stopped the entertainment - but not the
intense shame and pain which would last all day and all
night for one slow walker who had been brought very low.
Five minutes later, all boys were marched into the Hall
for morning assembly where they faced the stage.
All were strictly standing to attention in straight
lines, hands by sides in stillness and silence.
No talking, no whispering, no shuffling, just
waiting respectfully to receive the headmaster.
On dark winter mornings, in those few quiet seconds
before the appearance of his Dread Lord, Simeon could hear
the gentle hissing of gas lamps.
Boys at his side, boys to the front and rear, clean
boys and dirty boys all created an unpleasant Dickensian
crush of musty odour and stifling lack of ventilation.
He looked up at the high open window hoping that
some fresh air might enter, and, less likely, that he
might fly out to freedom and away from the pain of school,
home and Heanor.
All eyes focused on the strict headmaster, a stern
theocrat, distant and detached, who reigned with absolute
power over this culture of cruelty.
His baton, seen daily as an instrument of
oppression, would be raised -
"To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring."
One of the head's frequent favourites, but this dismal,
doleful dirge will always be associated with humiliation,
pain and suffering.
In later years it came as a surprise to Simeon that
some people actually liked hymns!
He assumed they were deliberately composed to be
depressing and dreary to enable the suffering singer to
atone for his sins.
After a sleepless night came a morning when his spirit was
broken beyond repair.
He was afraid of the consequences of failure to
attend school, but, could not find the courage to walk up
that hill from his home at Red Lion Square, a first floor
flat above a tobacconist.
Simeon was totally alone.
He had no friends to advise him.
There were no adults he could approach.
He was disliked, nay, detested by his parents.
They could not stand the sight of him – could not
bear to speak his name.
When a direct reference became unavoidable, it was
uttered as ‘im’ [Him].
Mr and Mrs Hogg died in 1972 and 1995 respectively
– events observed by their only son holding a coldness of
stone in dry eyes.
Consistent with a long held working class ethos, they took
the view that boys must learn to fight their own battles.
Sink or swim, he sank.
A boy who could not mend a puncture, a boy who had
no aptitude for football (in a macho culture where
football was important) was a great disappointment.
For the first time ever on that dreadful day, Simeon
feigned illness and stayed at home.
He was unable to think beyond the next 24 hours,
but with both parents out at work, he was savouring a
period of calm and respite until...
He heard ominous footsteps along the dark narrow
waited. He had
half expected this would happen.
The insidious tentacles of Mundy Street Boys School
would reach out into the safety of his own home.
The door reverberated and filled the building with
several loud bangs.
Cautiously and quietly he crept down the stairs and
peered through a peep hole to see an alarmingly familiar
face. Big Boy
He was bobbing around, impatient and keen for an answer.
He had been sent by the schoolmaster to
He had been given a mission to bring Simeon Hogg back to
was the power of a classroom teacher back in 1957.
Stealthily the truant withdrew, ascended the stairs and
hoped that the unwelcome visitor would give up and return
to the evil hell from whence he came.
But no: utter horror: the door handle moved: the
unlocked door opened and the intruder entered.
Like a hunted animal in fear, Simeon, barefoot and
still in his pyjamas, silently sprinted up two flights to
conceal himself in a small box room on the second floor.
Big Boy had no fear at all.
Why should he?
He was the 'chosen one' who was expected to do a
good job. He
was acting in the name of the schoolmaster who authorised
Had he encountered Mr or Mrs Hogg, he would have asserted
his delegated authority and claimed it included permission
to enter and search.
This was no trespass.
'The Hogg' had to be, if necessary, dragged back,
had to be taught a lesson.
The schoolmaster knew how to deal with 'the Hogg'.
If Big Boy succeeded, they would all be in for a
good show that morning.
From faint sounds heard inside the box room, the intruder
appeared to be taking his sweet time to investigate the
main front living room.
Family photographs would be studied providing
information which could be useful in the playground at a
The kitchen and bathroom were next.
Simeon, remaining very still, held on to the hope
that the explorer would get bored and go away.
Matters could hardly get worse, but they did.
He heard Big Boy creaking up to the second floor
coming to rest in front of the box room door - which was
not quite closed.
Curiously, the snooper gave it a little push.
Clutter caused resistance and, just for a moment, a
partial view of miscellaneous junk was now possible in
Just for a moment - but for the pathetic cringing child,
deep in shadows only inches away - that moment was an
Simeon often looked back on this excruciating moment and
angrily asked -
How did I let that happen?’
A systematically bullied child, bereft of wise counsel
from any adult, is imprisoned in his own private hell.
This child had been groomed as a victim and was, as
usual, obediently behaving as a victim rather like the
unfortunate captives who were brainwashed in Korea just a
few years before.
Indeed, this child had already reached an advanced
stage of humility and obedience to his class guards, to
Big Boy and to the schoolmaster whose sarcastic tongue he
Simeon's usual body language in and around the area of
Mundy Street Boys School said it all - head bowed and eyes
After the style of the concentration camp, Mundy Street
Boys School, if not tattooed on his arm, was, and would be
for the rest of his life - tattooed in his mind.
Big Boy did not notice Simeon in the box room.
He passed on.
He prowled on to the principal front bedroom; neat
and therefore not very interesting save for the long view
from the north western facing window: an uninterrupted
third of a mile, way down High Street to the very bottom
of the hill.
On a clear day, he might have lifted his eyes to distant
hills and a lighthouse, a stone tower on top of a jagged
wind-whipped village called Crich.
This famous landmark touching the roof of
Derbyshire would soon acquire a special significance in
the life of Simeon Hogg.
Back on the landing, once again passing the box room, Big
Boy found the back bedroom - his coup-de-grace.
On the door, a child-like crayoned sign was
incorrectly spelled PRIVET.
Mortified, Simeon heard the click of entry into his
own inner sanctum.
Leisurely, the prowler set out to examine all parts
of the interior which included the contents of drawers,
diagrams and pictures on the walls, clothes, books,
comics, toys and all manner of personal effects.
All this took quite a span of time for one
miserable shrinking child now cold and huddled nearby.
The agony of these minutes was not born of the fear
of burglarious activity: the agony was born of sadistic
objective - the intent, to bring low one who has already
Descending steps announced the end of the ordeal.
The measured unhurried creaks seemed to enhance
cruel satisfaction of the exercise.
A smug hint of a smile playing around Big Boy's
lips could be imaged.
The door closed – he’d gone.
Arriving at school the next day confirmed Simeon Hogg's
Hesitantly with stony expression, he approached the
entrance and halted before a large group - gloating,
smirking and sensing blood.
A raucous chorus quickly surrounded him to shout,
stab and wound him with the news of the previous morning.
The schoolmaster had invited Big Boy to deliver his
report publicly before the oversized class of 48 pupils -
and that class was allowed to break into a rapture of
noisy merriment. Included
in the entertainment was a reference to the 'Privet' sign,
drawings of space rockets on the wall, a painting of an
American car, comics considered too young and any amount
of embarrassing material which could be retained and used
at will for future tortures.
Simeon's private world was laid bare.
Uproarious laughter, catcalls and continuing
ridicule followed him throughout that terrible day, one of
many bad days in the year of 1957.
It had been going on and on, day after day, week after
week, month after month.
Like the wording of a medieval torture -
'... as much as you can bear, and greater.'
On that day after school it was too great.
Relief came over him when he contemplated a drastic
was under a bleak mid-winter miserable sky, darkened by
drizzle when Simeon opened the sash window and assessed
the length of drop from that second floor bedroom onto the
glistening pavement below.
It seemed like a high fall, but would it be enough?
Would it be quick?
It needed to be quick.
These contemplations were a relief for the unhappy
Despair had produced its own balm.
The resolution itself made things better, because,
now, there was a way out.
The intolerable had now become just a fraction more
During these cogitations he leaned out further and noted
the views. In
the far distance, the hills of Derbyshire were shrouded
with low grey cloud.
He noted industrial scars of mining and, in the
near distance, the foot of that long straight road.
Simeon the man has often looked back at that moment.
He often stood on Red Lion Square and looked up to
his old home which still had the date marked out in carved
bricks - 1888.
And above the date, there was that depressing, now slowly
rotting top window, the window of despair.
He was thankful that Simeon the boy did not jump,
because Simeon the boy was only weeks away from escape and
Urchins in an Orchard
Wednesday, December 11th
‘Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh.
Shadows of the evening steal across the sky’
For most pupils, this slow,
simple couplet, droned out of 48 mouths was a welcome end
to a bleak, blackening, mid-winter’s day.
The sad song was
followed by a mad, shoving, push onto the street to reach
freedom, fresh cold air and open space beyond.
In contrast, in that
same crush, Simeon ran the gauntlet of a daily dash to
escape from that dingy late Victorian place without pity,
hopefully, without incident.
Ominously, Sandy noticed Piggy looking particularly
miserable during that dark day of Wednesday, December 11th
1957, even more miserable than usual.
Most boys at Mundy
Street Boys School had a nickname.
Hogg suggested a pig and
‘the Hogg’ or ‘Piggy’ received a standard punishment of
several grunts each wretched day.
In orderly lines, each row was
dismissed in turn.
Boys were ordered to
‘walk not run’
out of the school.
Hoping for invisibility,
Simeon dawdled and sought refuge in any convenient alcove
en-route between the classroom and the school gate.
He was found.
It could have been worse
because Sandy found him.
Sandy usually demanded a
sexual encounter in the lavatory as opposed to more brutal
youths who had honed a sadistic repertoire of effective
methods to thoroughly abase their victim.
It was in the period of
September to December 1957 when Simeon sustained emotional
damage which manifested itself in various ways throughout
He could not tell left
The sight of a group of
youths on a street corner triggered a panic attack and any
depiction of school-bullying in films or TV caused extreme
These and other confidence
destroying traumas disabled him until well into the 21st
On this day, Sandy wanted
He said – ‘I’m taking
you to Granddad.’
They set off down Market
Under gathering gloom it
was brilliant with bright shop windows.
The two boys turned into
a dark narrow entry opposite Woolworths, emerging into a
space behind the shops in this busy locality.
It was not exactly a
garden, but a small area of old brick pavement broken up
by invading shrubs and bramble, the result of decades of
Clearly, Simeon and
Sandy were trespassing which mattered not a jot.
The place was deserted;
nobody around to look through the filthy windows and
nobody was likely to notice a couple of scruffy urchins
who blended into the damp, dirty, dismal background.
Obediently, Simeon followed his
master to a ramshackle shed situated up against a robust
high wall constructed of soot-blackened boulders.
Carefully they avoided
nettle stings and bramble barbs to approach a water
Using the rim, at almost
their own height, they quickly scaled up to the shed roof
and only just managed to achieve several footholds between
the boulders to mount the great wall.
Such is the agility of
two pre-adolescent lads who had just ascended an obstacle
which would have defeated many less fit adults.
Up on a level plain of small
craggy trees, in fact, an orchard; Simeon began thinking
questions he dared not to ask.
Where is Sandy’s
Why does he want Simeon
The ground was still
littered with windfalls in various stages of decay and a
few brave apples still clung to their place of birth.
The traffic noise of
Market Street was now far away, and, as they advanced
deeper into the orchard it disappeared completely.
Sandy leaped up a branch,
reached out and plucked an apple.
Even in failing light,
it looked tempting.
It was well past 4pm,
getting cold and damp with an oncoming drizzle.
Lowering dark clouds
mixed with murk and muck of a thousand chimneys had hung
and threatened this pit town all day long.
Simeon was envious.
He watched the other boy
eagerly crunch and chomp into his juicy acquisition.
These were the days long before
pupils were chauffeured to and from school by concerned
The time between the
final dismissal and arrival at home was hardly considered.
In mid December, on a
dull day, it started to get dark at 3.30pm.
If considered at all,
this absence would be accepted and dismissed as lads being
lads, out and about, playing about, mucking about until
approximately 6pm when they drifted in, expecting their
Tea was the evening
meal, for many, the main meal of the day.
The apple had been chomped to a
core and thrown down.
As Simeon’s soft
sensitive hands were conveniently near, another temptation
came to the fore.
‘Do it,’ barked Sandy.
As Simeon’s status in
the pecking order had steadily declined, the original
mutuality of earlier play had now disappeared.
Not only did he have to
‘do it’, he also had to unbuckle to get access to the
milky genitalia, the main member standing to attention in
anticipation of Piggy’s ever improving skills.
Under constant trauma at
Mundy Street, he learned little, but when it came to adept
stroking of erogenous zones, practice led to increasing
Sandy and Simeon were almost
the same age, perhaps youngest in their grossly oversized
In the homoerotic
culture of an all boys environment, they had already seen
several ejaculations from older classmates.
They knew all about
‘spunk’, the Derbyshire word for semen.
If a lad boasted about
‘fetching spunk’ he had achieved orgasm.
Further on in sexual
development, some of these boys had already passed their
With the post-war
baby-boom together with a severe shortage of teachers,
Simeon shared a class crammed with nearly 50 boys spanning
Quite frequently, the
schoolmaster left the room for long periods.
Sometimes a lower lad
would be put on guard duty to give the alarm if the master
In these interludes,
public masturbating ‘wanking’ sessions were possible for
seniors, like Big Boy, who occupied the higher echelons.
He preferred private
stimulation via hand in pocket.
Other boys, like Blubba, the
king pin who could beat up every other boy in the school,
in the class to see and admire his magnificent manhood.
He also wanted to show
off his power to command lesser boys to, as he put it,
lick the excited dribble off his bell-end.
Legs obscenely splayed;
smugly he leaned back in his chair observing workers who
were instructed to make it last as long as possible.
His pale fleshy face
with protruding rude tongue wore a cruel sneer as, without
warning, a powerful jet of spunk suddenly hit his two
workers in their mouths.
This would be greeted by
a raucous cheer from a small audience enjoying the show
crowding around the big guy’s desk.
Simeon was intrigued with
As the name suggested,
he was a large stocky lad, not handsome, with a thick neck
and thick head under a golden wispy mop looking as though
it had been hacked with a basin cut.
After hearing glowing reports of Piggy’s ‘nice little
fingers’, their adept dexterity around balls and bum hole,
Simeon was pressed into service as a third pair of hands
to stand behind Blubba and pleasure the anal regions of
the Top Dog of Mundy Street Boys School.
Against that background, Sandy
was middle ranking in his school status in this culture of
cruelty where you were graded by your ability to inflict
humiliation, pain and suffering on others.
But now in the orchard,
Simeon was in his familiar mode of dispensing pleasure to
Sandy’s recently dropped, delicate testicles, which, at
first touch, produced a long-drawn, half-stifled sigh from
a mouth which had already been opened by sudden delight in
such a dingy place.
Piggy’s naughty hands
sought out other sensitive zones including the
protuberance now developing.
Tickling and caressing
randy regions underneath with one hand, combined with
gentle forward and backward movements with the other,
seemed to create a crisis of pleasure in that secret,
hairless and creamy grotto between slim white legs.
Years later, speaking to an
older friend about this incident, Simeon was told about a
pre-adolescent phenomenon termed a ‘dry orgasm’.
Did this happen to
Piggy looked into a
pretty face under untidy corn-silk hair.
He scrutinised a small
freckled turned-up nose over a small, slightly opened
the small sound, the aforementioned sigh, the smallest of
indications; no real evidence of orgasm was given.
They left the orchard and
skipped over a low fence.
There was just enough
light to discern an untidy jumble of obstacles such as
bean rows, raspberry canes and dark compost heaps.
Several rickety wooden
sheds, an upturned wheelbarrow and a well rotted scary
scarecrow with a pumpkin head startled Simeon.
He continued to meander
around a restricting complication of narrow paths,
struggling to keep up with Sandy.
Heanor allotments, the pride of
pre-war gardeners, now lapsed, seemed in steep decline,
unloved and unlovely.
A discarded brass bed
head signalled the end of a cabbage patch and appeared to
proclaim itself part of a border.
It was a grassy, weed-infested
track separating the allotments and the far end of very
These were typical for
colliery towns and villages.
Each elongated plot
belonged to a terraced house probably built in the early
1800s by wealthy coal owning land owners.
The Squire of Shipley
Hall, Alfred Edward Miller-Mundy gave his name to the
school which blighted Simeon’s life.
These monotonous drab terraces,
of which Heanor had many, were built for miners and their
The slow decline of the
coal industry started just before the First World War.
For Heanor, it ended in 1970
Ripley & Heanor News
announced ‘The Last of a
Proud Pit’ – the closing of Ormond Colliery.
Sandy turned left along the
They had hardly
completed ten strides, when he abruptly turned right
skipping over another brass bed head into a thick jungle
of shrubs and bramble which might have once been a well
A narrow gap allowed
them into a space created by the shade of several mature
The trek to a distant
home soon gave onto more jungle.
approached a bricked back yard connected to a much
neglected house strangled by decades of ivy and numerous
weeds sprouting from its precarious chimney.
High walls gave adequate
protection from the prying eyes of neighbours.
As with all such properties, a
crude outbuilding incorporated a lavatory, coal house and
wash house with a big old copper cauldron heating six
pails of water for wash day.
From the example of his
own grandparents, Simeon was familiar with the ceremony of
lighting the fire under the copper cauldron to heat the
water for the Monday laundry.
‘ponched’ clothes in the dolly tub using a long handled,
wooden dolly peg and a bar of Sunlight soap.
In the dying days of
1957, it will be some years into the new decade before
Heanor homes achieve the status of electric washing
machines; and before that can happen, Heanor homes will
need to be connected to a supply of electricity.
In the 1950s, most were
At a glance, Simeon took it all
Even by working class
standards, this Heanor home with filthy rags passing for
curtains behind rotten frames was decidedly primitive.