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Who is the naughtiest kid in the world? I am! Well, more exactly, I was.
Let me share with you the story of my miraculous cure, for which I have my revered stepfather to thank.
It all started when my parents got divorced. Mother had to go to work, and I was cared for by my grandmother and her maiden sister.
This was great! I'll give you just one example.
"Sweetheart, it's time for dinner! Come to the table."
"I don't want any."
"Come on, darling, it's lovely!"
They were bigger than me, and I was gently forced to sit in front of the plate. So, nudge, and it's on the floor.
"Oh dear, oh dear, what a mishap. Never mind, I'll whip you up a lovely omelet."
"I HATE omelets!"
"Don't shout, it's rude. And last week you loved it."
"Well, now I hate it."
The omelet gets plonked in front of me, and sits there, and sits there until it becomes cold and leathery.
And then Aunty says the words I've been hanging out for: "Oh my little darling, you must eat something. Now how about a lovely piece of that chocolate cake?"
One day, I was rudely snatched from this heaven. My mother had the temerity to get married again! I was forced to move to a strange flat, with everything in the wrong places, and all the wrong sounds, and all the wrong smells, and no old ladies to manipulate.
And worst of all, it had HIM. It was HIS, and I was there only because my mother wouldn't have come without me.
HE made rules, and forced me to obey them. And my stupid mother refused to back me up. When I tried the not-eating trick, it flopped flatter than grandmother's omelet. HE just said, "That's all right. You're not hungry? You can have it when you are." And I had last night's horrible re-warmed leftovers put in front of me for breakfast.
You can see that this was a declaration of war.
Instead of coming home from school to two old darlings who doted on me, I had to stay for the after-school activities, then walk to the new place. I was the first there, then HE came, then my mother was usually last.
And what did she do? Did she make a fuss of me like she used to?
She made a fuss of HIM, they were all over each other, it was disgusting!
So, I decided, I was going to make HIS life impossible, until I could have my mother back again. I would be a guerilla, a freedom fighter in a war for my rights to do anything I wanted to, when I wanted to, without limits. How dare HE!
This was the first time in my life I demonstrated my undoubted brilliance, creativity and flair. Let me regale you with three examples.
What's the most disgusting job in the world? Unblocking a toilet that floods when you flush. And every toilet is equipped with toilet paper, and toilet paper makes an ideal plug…
Also, I used to make good money. I pinched HIS things and sold them to the kids at school. This was not theft, of course not! I hadn't heard of Sir Francis Drake then, but that's what it was: spoils of war, Spanish gold.
Then there was the Battle of the Electrics.
The building consisted of three flats. HE owned the whole thing. We occupied the front flat, with tenants in the other two. The electric meter box was in a sort of a dark tunnel inside the front gate.
One day, as soon as I got home, I stood on tippy-toes and opened the meter cupboard. Everything was too high, so I ran inside and grabbed a wooden spoon. With that, I managed to flip the main switch for the whole building to 'OFF'.
Then I went to HIS desk and found HIS torch. I opened it, took out the battery and put it in backwards. The torch felt the same, but of course gave no light.
Then I waited.
HE came home. Then she came home, they did their disgusting cuddling and kissing, then she tried to give me a kiss too. I pulled away of course -- did I want HIS slime on me? So she went off to cook, and as usual he sat at his desk, doing, well, whatever he did.
There was a knock on the front door. It was the tenant from the back flat, which was the darkest. HE went out with the man, then came back for the torch.
I managed not to laugh. I snuck out to listen, and learned several new words, spoken very loudly.
HE stormed in, straight to the telephone, and called the electrician.
Meanwhile, my mother had lit some candles. As soon as I was alone again, I grabbed the torch and put the battery the right way.
The electrician came, and HE went outside. When HE came in, HE had a VERY red face.
He gave me a few probing looks, but an innocent gaze was my stock-in-trade. Little angel, that's me. And I knew I hadn't left my fingerprints on anything.
Well, that was one battle I won, one of many, but HE won the war. All this was in Hungary, and there was a revolution in 1956. People could leave the country. Somehow, HE organised that I would go ahead with my uncle, and they would follow.
And once I was gone, HE changed his mind, and kept my mother behind!
Like the convicts of old, I was transported to Australia, for the rest of my natural life, and let me tell you, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Had I stayed with my family, I might have become a criminal, or perhaps a murder victim. It was this punishment that saved me from my wickedness.
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