1. Mark was a little boy who lived down Mayfair Drive, Thornton, in one of the new houses, a bit further down than the Hargreaveses’. He was probably five or six, around that age: a normal kid, tearing about on a little bike—a three-wheeler, so actually a “trike”—around Mayfair Drive.
Mayfair Drive, Thornton, June 2009
Peter Hargreaves’s house, June 2009 2. Chris remembers that Mark’s mum was quite an attractive lady. He was only very young—twelve or thirteen, perhaps—and she was perhaps in her late twenties. But even so, he noticed: This lady’s quite attractive! She was blonde.
3. And then Chris and his friends David Jones and Peter Hargreaves heard that Mark had had an operation, or something had happened, and he’d been left lame. He couldn’t walk— Did he have leg-irons? or crutches? or was he in a wheelchair? Chris thinks he was in a wheelchair at this point: he couldn’t walk.
4. So, one of them—Jones, in all likelihood—suggested that the three of them just go round to see Mark. To do so would be quite appropriate: he was known round the neighbourhood; he was one of the neighbourhood kids, a familiar sight to everyone.
5. And they went up to the house; and his Mum—this attractive blonde lady—was sitting in the drive, or at the side of the house, in a deck chair or a garden chair, wearing shorts and a top.
6. Chris remembers it becoming a bit awkward. It must have been Jones’s idea to visit, because it was he who marched in and stated why they’d come: “We just thought we’d come and see how Mark was.”
And she said, “Oh, thank you. It’s nice of you boys to come.”
“Yes, well,” Jones resumed, “we just wanted to come, Mrs.—” (whatever her surname was). “And— I just wanted to say how terribly, terribly— sorry— I am— that Mark is so crippled.”
7. This poor lady! Chris remembers feeling so embarrassed. He could sense her awkwardness, her not knowing quite how to reply. “Yes, well— it’s very kind of you to say that, David,” she eventually managed to say. “We hope he’ll get better. It’s not going to be easy for him—”
“Yes, yes,” Jones persisted. “Yes, well— We just wanted to say, really, how— how terribly, terribly sorry we are, that Mark is so crippled.”
And he repeated this several times, to the point where it got just too embarrassing. And maybe Hargreaves or Chris said then, “Yes—OK—we’d better go now, David.”
8. Jones was trying to express his extreme sorrow; it was his way of sympathising with this lady’s predicament: she had this young son who’d had some accident, or something, and he was in a wheelchair or had leg-irons on—and he was “crippled”. But Jones just kept on and on, apologising and expressing his profound concern that Mark was “so crippled.”
Feeling very embarrassed, they wanted to walk away and leave Jones to get out of it himself; but they felt some responsibility, and somehow managed to take Jones away.
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