ALEXANDER GEORGE
MACOWEN
(or Public Enemy No. 1)
by
Lesley Gordon
ALEXANDER GEORGE MACOWEN, would never look where he was going. When walking in the park or street he'd gravely contemplate his feet, or gaze with an abstracted stare at pilots stunting in the air. Some distant point of the horizon he'd keep his dim unseeing eyes on, ignoring folk who wished to pass and signs that said :

"KEEP OFF THE GRASS!"

Observe the boy ! Where'er he walks he leaves a trail of broken stalks. Municipal geraniums turn pale as snowdrops when he comes, and keepers of the public parks all show their teeth like angry sharks!

He'd frequently the peace disturb by pushing people off the curb, then hurry on without a word, his eye upon some distant bird. But if he hit a post or tree he'd like as not say :

"Pardon me!"

At crossing streets he was the worst. He'd never heard of SAFETY FIRST. He never looked to left or right, he never saw a coloured light, nor noticed people one by one, like fowls along a chicken-run follow the Hunt until they found the safety of ' Tom Tiddler's Ground.

A beacon by the pavement's rim no solemn warning held for him ; it seemed to GEORGE no guiding sun, he'd never even noticed one! And buses on their varied routes would hoot at GEORGE with angry hoots, and drivers of electric trams would get in most unheard-of jams, using what skill they could employ in trying to avoid the boy.

The things the lorry drivers said! They might have made GEORGE go quite red; they might have made GEORGE feel quite queer, if only GEORGE had stopped to hear.

But on he plunged between the trams, the motor-bikes, the nursemaids' prams, a tangled mass of carts and vans and terrified pedestrians.

Yes, you are right! The boy was caught ! And ALEXANDER GEORGE was brought to face, with weak and trembling knees, the suitable authorities.

"You're charged," they said to GEORGE MACOWEN," with never looking where you're going, ignoring signs and traffic lights and giving people horrid frights."

The Minister of Transport rose and looked at GEORGE from head to toes. "I ask you," cried the Minister, "are you ashamed or aren't you, sir? I ask you for the second time, do you regret your life of crime? Ah, you may wilt, sir! You may weaken— for such as you I planned the beacon. To you I gave the traffic signs, the coloured lights, the studs, the lines."

"For when the light is round and red
Pedestrians may forge ahead,
But when you see an amber light
To start across is hardly right
For 'ere the farther curb is seen
That amber light may turn to green
And then the traffic with a rush
From Pimlico and Shepherd's Bush
To Oxford Circus and the Zoo
May make a frightful mess of you ! "

" I'd take your licence right away," with heavy heart GEORGE heard him say, "but as you're not possessed of one that obviously can't be done. So this is what I'm going to do—I'm going to fix an ' L ' on you, and when you've learnt the highway code we'll let you out upon the road. Repeat this slowly after me," then said the Minister of T.

"When the light is round and red
Pedestrians may forge ahead,
But when you see an amber light
To start across is hardly right,
For 'ere the farther curb is seen
That amber light may turn to green
And motors, trams and lorries, too,
May make a frightful mess of you !

"You look to left, you look to right,
You keep the signals well in sight,
Don't step out quickly from behind
And once you start...

DON'T CHANGE YOUR MIND!"
 

So George has learnt the highway code.
He knows each signal on the road,
And now he's fitted with an ' L'
He's really doing rather well. . .


But though it's safer
far for us,
It makes him
SO
conspicuous!

The end