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The Boyhood of Burglar Bill

Allan Ahlberg
Puffin Books
Mar 2007
“I had this bald, mouldy-looking tennis ball which I dribbled with on the way to school till it disappeared down a drain. I even had a ball that I’d made myself out of cut-up rings from an inner tube wrapped round a core of silver-paper sweet wrappers. It was hardly bigger than a golf ball and bounced about, all that rubber, like a live thing.”

Continuing the social history gleaned from Allan Ahlberg’s childhood that was begun in "My Brother’s Ghost”, this book is set in 1953, the Coronation year, the stimuli for the Coronation Cup, a football tournament local to Oldbury in which the young Ahlberg took part.

Childhood memories and recollections are vividly realised by Ahlberg who describes with verve and zeal anecdotes surrounding the football matches – stolen kits accidentally dyed purple, his mother’s dressing gown-clad nocturnal meanderings… Nostalgia figures highly in this deftly written account of a ‘50s childhood that succeeds in going beyond mere reminiscence to explore social setting, character motivation and childhood from the heightened standpoint of more matured experience and understanding.

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