I went for a walk with my boyfriend the other day, and we happened to pass a little bunch of kids grouped on a bench. These boys were at an age where it was clearly still a great excitement to be allowed to go to the park without an adult watching and, struggling with the weight of such an honour, they were all lounging uncertainly across the bench, stretching their legs out into the path to ensure that anybody who walked by would see and  immediately realise that they were outside without adult supervision. One of them saw us approaching and perked up immediately. This was his chance. There were no parents. His friends were watching. You could almost see that this was what he had been waiting for- he could say any rude word he wanted and there was no parent to catch him out. All he had to do was pick one. He looked at his friends- they were gazing at him, open-mouthed, egging him on- and all of a sudden this scandalising opportunity was too much for him. You could see the exact moment his mind went blank- what swear words did he know? He shot us an agonised glance- we were almost upon him and he still hadn’t found one. His eyes flicked rapidly between us and his friends as he considered the terrible possibility that he might miss this opportunity. Just as we reached them, panic struck. “Puberty!” he shrieked at the top of his voice and, to a chorus of scandalised squeals from his friends, they all took off into the bushes.

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