SMOKE: Not The Anarchist's Cookbook

Originally published: 26 April 2005

I'll confess, even though the Feds regularly check up on this site: I once owned a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook. The same book one of those okes who massacred their school buddies at Columbine possessed, and which is banned in most places I know.

Before you Fibbies come haring down on me in a covert night time sting - I don't own it anymore. Gave it to my baby brother, if I recall correctly.

'Sides - the first Fed through the door cops a Jack Russell to the kneecap and a cosh to the throat, both of which I can assure you will be executed with unreasonable amounts of enthusiasm.

Some oke at school had a copy and it was freely distributed (the school couldn't understand why their Rotatrim expenses soared through the roof), and although I had mild interest in it I never made any of the devices.

I'd read too many stories of boys who'd blown their hands off with explosives, which were no doubt urban legends to stop us mucking about with fireworks.

But I didn't really need that book anyway - like all boys my age I was obsessed with weapons and had an ongoing development programme that would put Denel to shame.

Or so I liked to think - unfortunately my imagination always far exceeded my practical abilities and all projects - not just some, all projects - turned out far less grand than their initial blueprints.

I was reading a story about some dude in Australia who was discovered in his Outback shack with a crossbow bolt through the head and it reminded me of my own attempts at making a crossbow.

I wanted to build a super-crossbow that could take out a cat at 50 paces, but I was severely limited by lack of decent construction materials. My woodworking skills were non-existent and my great plan consisted of nailing two pieces of wood in a cross (with lots of bent nails hammered flat into the surface of the wood).

I found an old piece of elastic which had a hospital-green cotton layer covering it and I nailed the two ends into the 'arm' part of the cross. Then I nailed a wooden clothes peg at the base of the long end, and pulling the elastic back I hooked it into the peg.

This meant that all I had to do was depress the peg and it would open, releasing the elastic and firing off the missile at deadly pace and accuracy.

But I couldn't find a decent missile, so I had to settle for an extra long Staedtler HB pencil, which I diligently sharpened until it was nigh on armour-piercing. I even cut a little groove in the base of the pencil to fit it into the elastic when I pulled it back.

Thus armed I went out front in search of enemies, wearing my camouflage peak cap (an actual Marine cap given to me by a friend in the USA). Hunkering down behind some rocks I settled in for the wait, being careful to load up my vicious pencil.

I was just starting to fidget when I spotted him - Da Goia's black cat. Da Goia was the wealthy fat bastard who lived next door and I had inherited my father's loathing of the man by default.

I lined that swine up in my sights and carefully released the trigger, but the pencil just fell off the side and dropped onto the ground next to me.

The cat - sensing his number was up and not willing to tempt fate any longer - moved off in haughty silence as I desperately threaded my pencil again, and I loaded it just in time to take a potshot at him as he slunk out of the front gate.

This time the pencil got as far as my hand holding the crossbow near the top, and with incredible force buried its way deep into the flesh on the side of my palm.

Screaming in pain - and terrified of lead poisoning (I've been frightened of lead pencils for as long as I can remember, after someone told me how some boy got a piece of lead stuck in his finger and it shot up into his brain, killing him) - I pulled the pencil out, and almost vomiting from the horror of it all went inside to clean my wound out.

I swear I could hear that cat laughing as I hauled my sorry, stupid ass indoors.

That incident failed to dampen my enthusiasm for weapons development, however. My next project - inspired by the story of David and Goliath - was to construct a sling, because I didn't need all that many raw materials.

An old stocking of my sister's provided the sling. I went down to the river that ran through our property and selected some choice stones - smooth and round, just like in the story.

I had no Goliath to practice on and it wasn't easy as I soon discovered. I nearly hit myself on a number of occasions and once I was practising in the front garden and let loose a ripper, which hit a cyclist passing by in the road.

All I heard was his yell of pain as I fled, and had our garden gate been open I'm sure he would have come in to look for me. It wasn't, he didn't and I gave that up for a lark smart quick.

I also made numerous bow and arrow sets but none of them ever worked - either the stick broke or the elastic did or the arrow refused to fly. I also made catties, but those always broke as well as I never had a thick piece of wood that formed a perfect Y.

I made some great peashooters as well, and they usually worked. I would make a little cone of paper and stick a pin through it, then place the thing in my hollowed-out, thick pen.

Because it was a cone shape there was plenty of surface area for my breath to propel it, and many an oke roared with pain at odd moments during school.

One of those things in the neck was a highly unpleasant experience.

But perhaps my most creative assignment was building a jet that dropped bombs. I'd found a book on how to make well over a hundred different paper aeroplanes and although I could make very few of them I spent hours trying.

I really wanted to be able to drop a payload from one of them, but after numerous frustrating attempts I settled on the old, bog-standard version, with a slit down the middle.

Once again pencils featured - I placed a pencil in the crease between the wings and launched the plane, no doubt fondly imagining it would dislodge the pencil at the desired moment.

But of course the pencil was too heavy and as soon as I threw it the pencil fell out of the back and onto the floor, and the plane - badly constructed as it was - simply nose-dived into the couch and lay there, pathetically.

Despite all this creative genius I've still never heard from the arms development wing of Denel, who've had my CV since the days when they were still Armscor. I just can't figure it out.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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