We all love a rogue, and, let’s face it, we’ve all done something a little bit naughty at some point, so why not read about some local people who were brave enough to tell us some of the mischief-making they got up to “back in the day”.
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I remember being a young lad and drinking tins of lager we had nicked out my pal’s dad’s house down by Arbroath Road. We “hid” on the stairs at the underpass next to Moneymusk park and thought we were great drinking this lager. Then an old man came along with his dog and caught us, and started shouting at us for drinking a tin of lager and said to us “you’ll be alcoholics by the time you’re 13 if you carry on like that.”, to which my friend replied “eh, we ARE 13, Mister.” The old man just laughed and said, “well, carry on, boys, and see where it gets you.” Every time I have a tin of lager, I am reminded of that man and our secret, stolen tinny.
– Anonymous, Dundee
We used to go looking for conkers around the wooded areas by Gardyne College. That area was great for getting decent sized conkers, but it was also a great place to climb trees, run amok and generally, just be boys. One day, during a particularly long and boring Summer, we decided we would all go climbing up the side of the College building itself. There was a ramp with a flat wall that allowed us to walk up the wall and around the outside window-ledges of the building, which was about three floors from the ground. At the time, it seems like a laugh and joke, but, looking back now, it was a really dangerous thing to do. The janitor caught us once, and tried to chase us down, but my friend got his jacket stuck on a railing that jutted out over the edge of the building, maybe about 20 feet from the ground. With no way forward, he had to try and get round this barrier as the janitor closed the gap between them on the window ledge. He got so stuck that he ended up in floods of tears, shouting and crying for his mum…and we needed to get the fire department to come and rescue him with their ladder, because he couldnt move, and refused to rip his jacket for fear that his mother would kill him!!
– Anonymous, Dundee
One of the naughty things we got up to in the 50’s was pinching apples. Near Dudhope Park just up from DRI there used to be a private orchard. My mates and myself would sneak in and, after assigning a ‘lookout’ for the Estate manager, the agile lads in our wee gang would shinny up a tree and start picking and throwing down the apples. They were only ‘crab’ apples but trophies none the less. If caught in the grounds we’d say we were looking for chestnuts, as ‘Conkers’ was one of the biggest games around at that time. If you had a champion conker you were king of the playground.
– Charles, Malta (formerly Dundee)
“We used to play hopscotch and hoops out on the streets, always in and out of people’s gardens. It never occurred to us to ask permission because we were young and having fun. There was this old woman, Mrs Morris or Morrison, who lived right on the corner of the street I lived in, and her “pavie” was nice and wide – great for marking out the hopscotch tiles, but she hated us playing right outside her house and was always getting us into trouble. Once day she even threw a pail of water out of her window at us, washing away the chalk and soaking some of the other girls I was playing with. She never got me though, and, because it was July, it dried up quickly and we just chalked new squares in. She came to the window with another pail of water, but it overbalanced before she could throw it, and it soaked her and probably soaked the inside of her kitchen too! Never again did she come to her window and moan at us for playing outside her window – which we still continued to do!”
– Eleanor, 87, Dundee
Once, when I was about 15, I bunked off school and went to my uncle’s house, who was at work, and sat drinking with my cousin and his girlfriend. I had to go home for lunch, as we didn’t have much money and couldn’t afford a lot, so I trailed home, blazing drunk and sat at the dinner table, trying my best to remain compus mentus as my mother put down a plate of tomato soup before me. No sooner than I had finished it, it returned in a flurry all over the kitchen table. By this time, the game was up, and I got the beating of my life from her, and then, when my father came home, I got more of the same. I never touched a drop of alcohol again until I was 24.
– John, 59, from Fintry
One of our favourite games was “backie-run”, where you essentially had to try and run through as many people’s back gardens as possible before you were caught. The risks were variable, and punishments ranged from a rap on the windows to, in some cases, a clip round the head or a thick ear if you were actually apprehended. One night, in the later part of the year, about six of us decided to do one of the longest backie-runs we could, along the back of Balunie Avenue in almost pitch black. As we were belting through, trying not to laugh and give the game away, this dog suddenly started to chase us. Everyone else managed to climb the fence and escape, but, although I got up onto the fence and away from the dog, I got stuck at the top and couldn’t get down. Practically everyone in the street heard me screaming and eventually, the owner of the dog came and took the dog away and lifted me off the fence. I was only about 12 and had never been so scared in all of my life.
– Kelly, 38, Dundee