Firstly, I would like to apologise for the A3065. I was about 11 and out riding my bike with my brothers from Rumwell (a hamlet off the A38 between Taunton and Wellington) along the lane a few fields north of Bishop's Hull via a humpback bridge to the railway level crossing where we spotted something new on our patch.
It was a cable. Fixed across the road with a digital counter, we guessed it was to measure traffic flow by clicking up one every time a car went over it, presumably, to see if it was coping with car numbers using it. Most kids, seeing this, would wonder the same as we did, whether the number would change if you rode a bicycle over it.
The answer must have satisfied us because we rode round and round in circles over it before riding away, having no idea a Taunton council engineer would have a fit when he next passed on seeing how much traffic this poor lane was receiving and must have rushed back to say quick, we must upgrade it. Next time I was there was years after emigrating to Australia. I returned to find that this quiet lane had become a high-speed road called the A3065 which, come to think of it, was probably named after the number of passes we did over that poor cable.
As for other childhood problems I caused, I also admit it was us who played Cattle Industry Employees and Native Americans, running and shouting in rhododendron bushes our grandmother drove us to on Blagdon Hill.
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Our enjoyment of playing in its bushes, clearly causing repetition of this fun by others, plus the angrier present-day "rhodie bashing" conducted by those who see this plant as an alien spoiler of the West Country's shadier parts.
Luckily, my gran's name has been kept out of it, and blame is levelled largely at wealthy Victorian landowners who planted huge areas of them. This glamorous plant is shown in every gardening magazine whose readership exceeds Taunton Deane Borough Council's Landscape Character Assessment Report, which says that one such old landscaped estate (Otterhead Lakes, near Otterford on the Blackdown Hills) with islands of rhododendrons and purple beech is now a nature reserve managed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust.
The thing is my father didn't always show us a very good example. On the four-week ocean voyage to Tasmania he came second in a fancy head-dress competition without even making one. On judging night he stayed behind in the cabin while the rest of us went up for dinner and ten minutes later he arrived in the packed dining room wearing a wire coat hanger stretched over his head.
I am also to blame for enjoying the circus and causing upheaval nowadays when circuses turn to kinder displays of dancing in theatres rather than let us ogle over-confined wild animals under the Big Top tent that smelt of damp grass and fear. Billy Smart's Circus visited an empty field in Taunton on which they've since built the Somerset College of Arts and Technology to keep away the clowns.
Anyway, circus animals often show us what they think of being cooped up. The New Zealand Herald (August 2, 1890) reported a leopard escaping from its cage during a Fossett's Circus parade along Taunton's Station Road after being "infuriated by having sticks poked" through the bars. Mothers shrieked for their children, people dived into the River Tone. Some circus artists climbed on to their vans or up trees, as the leopard looked on astonished before wandering into Canal Road where it bit two pursuers and was fatally shot in Prospect Villa's front garden after it "jumped through the closed window into the front parlour".
As a uni student in Adelaide, four of us worked as ushers for the Great Moscow Circus; they said one job was to push the lion into the ring. Overjoyed to find it was caged, I pushed one corner near its mane which I assumed (wrongly) would be the danger end. Halfway, the lion suddenly relieved itself so massively on to the tuxedoed leg of an usher at the tail end, as the band played, he could do nothing but look down with dismay for the ten seconds or so it lasted and keep pulling. He's one person who'd prefer a face-painted flaming torch juggler.