Pyromania [5]

The hut made the front page of the Argos. That in itself, George felt, was quite gratifying. He and Andy were already back in Bournemouth by the time they found out, online, that their test had become a local news item in Brighton & Hove.

It nearly didn’t. When they got to Brighton, exactly as planned and with no eyebrows raised from anyone, via Uncle Edward’s in London, they found to their dismay that Brighton beach huts in the main were bigger, fatter, and squatter than those on Boscombe Beach and, more to the point, they mostly sat flat on the ground.

George’s approach had been—and to all intents and purposes still was—to plant a tiny charge of homemade explosive under each third hut and, considering the average distance at which they are spaced, hook three charges up to one kitchen timer. Preassembled and primed, it would then be possible for two people to, comparatively swiftly, place the devices in batches of three, in a relay sequence.

Bearing in mind the overall distance to be covered, any obstacles on the way, and the obvious need to remain inconspicuous, they had, he estimated, a window of opportunity lasting approximately three hours. If one person was able to plant one set every two minutes, then, allowing for a margin of error of ten minutes per hour, the two of them would be able to plant fifty sets an hour, which would cover 450 huts. Times three made roughly 1350. That, George thought, was not quite enough. He had been hoping for about twice as many. But Andy remained unperturbed: ‘You’re not thinking of the wind.’

That was true, George had not been thinking of the wind. Should he think of the wind?

‘We don’t know what the wind will be doing on Midsummer Night.’

‘It always does something, and it normally comes in from about there.’

Andy was standing on Brighton Beach, facing the water and pointing vaguely to his right. What was true of Brighton was also true of Bournemouth and of most of the English South Coast. The wind, mostly, came vaguely from the right.

That made a big difference. As George knew—although he had never expressed it and didn’t do so now—in the face of uncertainty, likelihood is your friend. And in all likelihood the wind on Summer Solstice Night would do on Bournemouth and Boscombe Beaches exactly what it normally does: come in vaguely from the right, more or less the south west.

This could double capacity at a stroke. Maybe not quite double. For practical reasons, the individual devices within each set could not be spaced further than two huts apart, not least because George and Andy had by now started assembling them. But the sets themselves: they could be spaced out a bit. Perhaps as much as three huts apart. So George’s diagram in his mind now looked more like this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 06.01.55

Which meant one set of three could actually cover a dozen huts. A hundred and fifty sets would now light up 1,800 of them. That was a pleasing number, George thought, and Andy thought so too:

‘It’s pleasing,’ Andy said. It sounded slightly incongruous, coming from a teenager barely the size of a twelve year old, but it was true. It was pleasing.

The project of getting hold of a hundred and fifty kitchen timers had started almost immediately, but the trip to Brighton, via London, proved instrumental, because there are only so many kitchen timers you can nick in and around Bournemouth before somebody starts thinking that’s odd. The trip to Brighton via London though took in numerous household and hardware stores, DIY centres and ordinary larger scale supermarkets, in none of which digital kitchen timers were considered high enough value items to be individually tagged, with maybe one or two exceptions of the more ‘designer’ variety.

George and Andy eschewed those and bagged the smallest and cheapest they could find, and before long their little suitcases were filling up with timers of every type and description.

Uncle Edward remained oblivious to all this, as he was not the kind of grown-up to snoop into teenagers’ bags, or any of his house guests’ for that matter, of whom he’d had many. He wished them a good night out on the Saturday, when he was going to go to the theatre and dinner with a friend, and they headed down to Brighton.

As previously agreed, they did not tell Uncle Edward they were taking a train down to Brighton, so as far as he was concerned, they were just heading into town. They did not specifically tell him that’s what they were doing either, because it went against George’s grain to lie to his uncle, whom, after all, he liked very much.

Following what looked like a potentially fatal setback, owing to the ‘wrong’ beach hut design being prevalent on this part of the coast, the two boys—who here, among the curious mix of the youthful laid-back, the middle aged gay, and the residual resident retired looked oddly at home—on their stroll happened upon a hut that seemed, and turned out, just about perfect: part of a group that looked a little older than the others, it sat on a low but accessible base, it was in good but not pristine condition, and its location, towards the end of the beach, made it, if not exactly isolated, then still comparatively quiet.

With the temperature mild, and just a faint breeze wafting in from, vaguely, the right, and the hour approaching eleven at night, there were people milling about, but not too many and, as predicted and hoped, none of them paid any attention to the odd young couple among them. At this point, poised and calm, they didn’t look like juvenile arsonists, at least no more than juveniles do, without meaning to, anyway. They looked like any teenagers, one tall and languid, the other minuscule and mercurial, who probably should be heading home about now, and who would be doing just that, so as not to miss the last train to London, albeit not without a curious detour.

The deed itself was done in seconds and, within the specified minutes of deliberately ‘programmed’ delay, resulted in a most satisfying bang.


< Pyromania [4]       Pyromania [6] >


Bournemouth-&-Boscombe-Front-Cover-7-TN-OPT

Read The Bournemouth & Boscombe Trilogy in Paperback or as eBook

Pyromania [4]

What little George needed to know about incendiary devices, he learnt very quickly; and Andy turned out to be an ideal accomplice. While George was methodical, wily, and determined, Andy was swift, small, and silent, and quite original in his thinking.

The biggest challenge, George surmised, would be to procure a large number of detonators and wiring without raising suspicion, let alone alarm. But in actual fact, this proved a lot easier than he had anticipated: relying mostly on the Calor gas bottles for the ‘bang’, George came to realise that with a few very ordinary household items and some basic physics he could most likely create simultaneous sparks, and if he could do that, he could ignite simultaneous boxes of matches and some firelighters or sponges doused in white spirit or petrol, and if he could do that, he could not, perhaps, cause simultaneous bangs, but the random series that would result in different huts exploding at slightly different times would lend the spectacle its own satisfying symphonic quality.

Conscious of the ‘one chance to get this right’ aspect to his endeavour, combined with a patent inability to do a test run, even on a model or an isolated, remote specimen, George felt there was a lot at stake and a lot that could go wrong. He confided this worry, such as it was, in passing to Andy. Andy was unperturbed:

‘Yeah you can run a test.’

‘Where would I run a test?’

‘There are beach huts on every other beach in the country: just go to a beach and do just the one, nobody will think it’s a test, they’ll just think: fuck, the hut blew up. Bummer.’

That made sense. It would be no more difficult than travelling to another beach, remote enough so as not to draw attention to Boscombe and Bournemouth and close enough so as not to take more than an hour’s travel or so, and a field test could be run on just one, perhaps slightly isolated beach hut that looked like it might recently have been in use and that fulfilled the principal criteria set by his actual target huts for reference.

‘Brighton.’ Andy did not need to think about this.

‘Brighton is miles away. And it’s extremely busy.’

‘Exactly. It’s miles away, and nobody would think anybody from Bournemouth would be stupid enough to go there just to blow up a beach hut. Plus there are any number of people off their heads enough there to set fire to one of their huts by accident.’

The reasoning was flawless. It was risky, George thought, but on balance, and thinking about it a bit further, longer, and more thoroughly, not as risky, most likely, as going to a remote beach where two teenagers, one lanky and tall, the other tiny and cute, would be instantly memorable. In Brighton, nobody would bat an eyelid. All they had to do was go there, find the right hut, maybe somewhat to the end of the beach, and run their test without getting caught. It would be like a rehearsal. It would be indispensable, George suddenly understood. Of course they had to do a test.

Now the question was: how to stay away overnight without raising eyebrows…

‘We go and visit my uncle, Edward,’ Andy suggested.

‘Great, where does he live?’

‘In London, of course.’

‘Of course.’

George told his dad, Andy his mother; they would spend a weekend in London with Uncle Edward. Uncle Edward was asked and readily agreed, he was looking forward to seeing them.

Once in London, they would simply go out, as you do of a Saturday night, and return very late or early next morning. Uncle Edward would not ask them where they had been, or if he did, he would do so in the way uncles do: all right boys, have you had a good time last night? Yeah. Where did you go? Oh we went out. Great. Help yourselves to juice in the fridge and whatever there is to eat.

There wouldn’t be much to eat in the fridge, and the juice would be something like ‘Açaí Berry’ or ‘Radiant Beetroot’, but no further questions would be asked. The thought that the boys might have taken a train down to Brighton would not occur to Uncle Edward, and if it did, he’d think that was a splendid idea. But they wouldn’t tell him, just in case by some freakish coincidence the ‘news’ of a beach hut in Brighton having blown up might reach London. They thought that was extremely unlikely, it would be more likely—though still wildly improbable—to reach Bournemouth, in a ‘typical: someone in Brighton blew up their hut…’ kind of way.

Time was tight, but Uncle Edward confirmed he’d be around the following weekend; and the weather, as if to order, was gorgeous.


Pyromania [3]       Pyromania [5] >


Bournemouth-&-Boscombe-Front-Cover-7-TN-OPT

Read The Bournemouth & Boscombe Trilogy in Paperback or as eBook

 

 

 

Pyromania [5]

This post has moved. You can now find it here.

 

EDEN was originally published in random order. Starting 1st August 2018 it is being reposted in sequence. To follow it, choose from the subscribe options in the lefthand panel (from a laptop) or in the drop-down menu (from a mobile device).

If you are the owner of the link that brought you here, please update it; or if you know them, then please do let them know.

 

Thanks & enjoy.

 

Pyromania [4]

This post has moved. You can now find it here.

 

EDEN was originally published in random order. Starting 1st August 2018 it is being reposted in sequence. To follow it, choose from the subscribe options in the lefthand panel (from a laptop) or in the drop-down menu (from a mobile device).

If you are the owner of the link that brought you here, please update it; or if you know them, then please do let them know.

 

Thanks & enjoy.