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Paddy Courtney: I was barely 14 and I drank, smoked fags, bought porn and trespassed

I'm off to germany for a weekend break and I'm quite nervous. I'm a fugitive from the law and I'm not sure if they've forgotten about me or if they still have 'ACHTUNG PADDY WANTED' posters at customs.

A fugitive usually breaks the law and runs. Well, I didn't so much run as hop on a bus to the next country on my itinerary. The year was 1985 and I was on my first ever school trip. Excitement, giddiness and general tomfoolery took over and laws were ignored, broken and made a monkey of (teacher's words, not mine).

The tour lasted a mere ten days and in that time I grew from boy to outlaw. We travelled to England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and France, and I can honestly say I acted dishonestly in every one. Paddy the pan-European pirate (my words, not teacher's).

I was barely 14 and I drank alcohol, smoked fags, bought porn, robbed fireworks and trespassed on an ice skating rink without ice skates. But these acts were quite petty compared to the law I was caught breaking. The Gestapo, sorry, I mean teacher, snared me by the wiener schnitzel.

The aged among you will know that we weren't always slaves to the euro. Back in the day we had pounds and pence, and Germany had deutschmarks and pfennigs. "Yeah, whatever, Paddy," I hear you say, "we don't read your column to get edumacated, just entermatained."

I bought many a 5p for 20p from fellow students. They thought I was simple and went along with "the poor boy with the slow brain".

What they didn't realise was that our 5p was the same size as the deutschmark but worth far less. I raided every vending machine, buying cigarettes, booze and condoms, then I sold them on for a tidy profit, thank you very much. I would have got away with it too if it weren't for that pesky teacher. I reckon he was jealous because he didn't think of it first.

pcc@herald.ie


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