Alastair Pan paused by the window, transfixed by the voice beyond. It was a tale of derring do, of heroics, and he couldn’t tear himself away. The soft tones of Selvey Darling could be heard, relating a story to the children, one of a young, dark haired legend, smashing Australians to all parts. Alastair crept closer, unable to resist the siren call of a story that spoke to his very soul, and stirred his emotions. The lure of far off places, the paradise called Brisbane, and the call of the crowd enthralled him, and made him wish he was there. “Tomorrow children, I will tell you about Adelaide. No, not that time, I don’t wish to give you nightmares – this is much better”. Alastair slipped away, determined to return to hear the next stage of the tale.
The following night, he arrived early. The window was still open, the darlings and the Darlings still just beyond. Getting himself comfortable, he was ready to hear the next stage. And as he listened, lulled by the dulcet tones, beguiled by the exploits of the hero, he didn’t notice one of the children come to the window. Young Joe had always been the most precocious of the children, and an awareness of a presence nearby, looking over his shoulder, led him to look outside and poor Alastair was seen. Oh calamity! Panic stricken, he fled, but not before being separated from his career. Bereft, he wandered for a time, but he knew he couldn’t be without it, and late at night, he returned, slipping in through the open window, to wake young Joe.
Startled, Joe awoke, to be told of Alastair’s problem. He was the middle child, and known to the family thus as the Media Darling. But he was a kindly soul, one prepared to give it all away even when things were going well. He listened to the tale and learned that for Alastair, without his career, he was incomplete, and had nothing to look forward to. Joe looked over, and said “But it’s behind you!”. “Oh, no it isn’t”, Alastair replied. “Are you sure? I thought I saw it in the distance?”. Agreeing to help out, they hunted high and low, and sure enough, hidden somewhere at home (no point looking away), they found it.
Re-attaching it, a grateful Alastair burst into tears, and explained that he had heard the tales of Brisbane and Adelaide, and wished to know more. Joe was astonished, telling him that he knew lots of these stories, such as the Legend of Edgbaston and the Parable of Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Amazed, Alastair told him of his world, Neverland, where he lived with his gang, the Lost Boys. These poor children had been abandoned at Kensington Oval, and ever since had wandered from place to place, forever being beaten, most recently in Perth.
“Come with me” urged Alastair. “These children are leaderless and just go from disaster to disaster. They need help”. Joe agreed, and together they left, flying through the air, and narrowly avoiding the cannonballs fired from the Hazel Wood below as they reached Neverland.
The Lost Boys were thrilled, welcoming Joe, for finally they had a father figure, albeit a 12 year old, to look after them. Introduced to them one by one, Joe promised to take them to all the wonderful places, and see all the wonderful things in the world. In return, they decided to build him a house, one with flimsy foundations and that would fall down the moment any pressure was placed on it, but he was happy and they were happy.
Yet there was danger on the horizon, and no more so than in the shape of Captain Kevin “Irresponsible” Hook. Long the enemy of Alastair Pan, he wanted to be in the gang, but Alastair would have none of it, defeating him in a popularity contest and cutting off his hand, which fell into the mouth of a voracious crocodile called Newman. And so he was sworn to revenge, determined that if he couldn’t be part of the team, then no one should. Newman had the taste for him though, and followed him around, desperate for more.
Irresponsible plotted his revenge, to steal away the Lost Boys from Alastair’s grasp, promising fun, good form and an abundance of sensible tactics. Yet despite all efforts and common sense, they wouldn’t go. And thus is came to be that Hook and his piers took direct action, kidnapping the boys and imprisoning them on his ship, the Hit and Giggle. There, they were forced into a life of short (but highly lucrative) games, with some of them used as cannon fodder for his batman.
Alastair had been wounded by Hook before, and as a result Ian “Tinker” Bell had vanished, never to be seen or heard from again, but this time he was going to finish things. He crept aboard the ship, finding the Lost Boys, and even Woakes’ long lost twin Stokes, who had been cruelly ripped away from the group some time earlier. “Where is Joe Darling?”, he cried, only to be told he was being guarded by a Lyon and every time he tried to cut free was tied back down. For the first time in his life, he was unable to get himself out.
As Pan moved across the deck, Irresponsible saw him. “So Alastair, we meet at last, the circle is now complete. When I left you I was but a boy, now I am the…..hang on, that’s a different story. I mean, when I left you I was forced into exile. No one would hear me whistle, no one would see me looking out of windows. It is time for us to finish this”.
Alastair sprang into action, waving his trusty blade somewhere outside off. The two clashed, Hook swinging his sword around his head. But Hook was no match for Alastair, protected as he was by his Mail. In no time at all, he was pushed back, back, back to the edge of the ship, before falling into Newman’s open, waiting mouth.
With Irresponsible’s demise, the Lost Boys were free. Never again to be humiliated, able to travel to distant lands secure in the knowledge that no longer would they be second best. Hook had been responsible for everything wrong in Neverland, and with him gone, they could look forward with confidence, and tales of Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth once more. All was well.
But Joe was feeling homesick. He knew his place couldn’t be with Alastair and begged to be allowed to return. The Lost Boys went with him, where Selvey Darling agreed to adopt those of them who promised to go to Bedford School, while rejecting Stokes as a lost lamb, but a New Zealand one rather than Essex. Selvey offered to take Alastair too, but he declined with love, citing his need to go off and find his off stump.
And so they all lived happily ever after. The evil Hook was vanquished, and Alastair Pan was free. Joe Darling grew up to tell ever more stories for Alastair to listen to, and the Lost Boys showed their spine, mettle and skill as they went to Australia and showed the locals just how things should be done.
And don’t let anyone tell you any different.
Apologies to the shade of JM Barrie, and may we wish you a very Happy Christmas from all of us at BOC, and we’ll be back when the next
defeat match starts on Boxing Day.