Deciding that BMX bikes plummeting from the sky, like lightning, probably will hit the same place twice, the Lady Socks and I postponed our sojourn to find somewhere safer.
We weren’t sure what to do with the bike stuntman who’d made an unscheduled flight over our heads. Abducting him for a quick visit to hospital would perhaps have been a venture into rather uncertain legal territory. The most we could do was persuade him to allow Lady Socks to patch up the more hideous of his wounds.
Like the hero of Wilfred Owen’s ‘Disabled’, the stuntman made the impression he was that kind of kid who ‘liked a blood smear down his leg’. He was also quite partial to the bruising on his cheek, the lacerations to his hands, and limping.
Strolling by the canal a few minutes later we saw Evel Knievel again with a mate, debating where they should go that evening.
‘Is there much birds* there?’ the stuntman was asking his friend.
The chum opened his arms expansively to indicate a large amount of something.
‘There is loads of birds there. Swear down’, confirmed the second teen.
This little exchange tells the amateur anthropologist something odd, maybe even important, about how the teenage male perceives his world.
These young chaps apparently preferred to think about their female counterparts as a kind of substance, the quantity of which can be measured in the way one measures substances like oxygen or beer. These guys would go to a bar and order 'Two pints of lager and.. erm... twenty gallons of girl, and a packet of crisps, ta'.
I am not sure why this new generation of male hunters - when they're not busy painting women on their cave walls or crashing their bikes on unsuspecting teachers - don't think of their prey as individual 'units', where one girl is a distinguishable entity from another.
Don't the lads want to be able to count exactly how many 'birds' they've 'had'?
(Please excuse my rather crude terminology - we amateur anthropologists have to 'go native' sometimes).
And do young males score more points with their pals if they boast 'I've had 450kg of girl!' rather than '8 girls' (just for example). Morrissey used to sing that 'some girls are bigger than others', so is this what he meant?
A possible reason for the fudge on numbers of girls ostensibly snogged or shagged could be to prevent fights amongst the males - it is harder for jealousy to develop if all the studs can claim to have snogged 'some girls' or 'a whole load of girls' rather than '3 girls', which would bring them dangerously close to conferring identities and personalities on the women, thus risking discovering they had 'shared' the same prey with a rival male.
As I stood there by the canal, cogitating on these weighty questions, Lady Socks grabbed my arm and told me to stop staring, and that we were going to feed the ducks and not worry about it today.
I raised my free hand in a salute from one generation to another, and the males looked back at me.
'Cheers for the plasters!' called the stuntman.
You will think I am making up the next bit. A whole load of teenage girls - 10 of them, to be precise - entered the park. They walked in a line towards the males, like suicidal wildebeest towards lions.
I felt like I was watching a real, live, nature documentary, as Lady Socks led me away.
Reaching the lions, the wildebeest sat down on the grass, and chatted with each other, with a few of them obviously taking a strong interest in the males.
Our heroes, however, glanced at each other, nodded in conspiracy, and left the scene. The nuances of the mating game have long defied understanding.
*Birds = Chicks.