The Mystery in the Park

I guess I read too many Famous Five stories as a child. When I was 12, there was a small group of us that were quite convinced that something odd was going on in and around the “park”, the gardens that surround Insole Court in Cardiff. Not that we ever decided exactly what that something was. All we knew was that it was mysterious and dangerous that it needed investigation. Naturally, we thought that the “Parkies” who looked after the gardens were in on it, so we gave them a pretty hard time.

Before I go on, I would like to make a public appology to the Keepers and other staff of Insole Court whom we terrorised in the late 1970s. We treated you like the enemy. In our defence, we genuinely thought you were hiding something, so the more you tried to keep us in line, the more we pushed the boundaries. Not that that is any excuse. I am sorry for the trouble we caused. You were quite right to shout at us to get down off the roofs, chase us through the flower beds and to drag me into your office and pretend to call the police. I hope you can forgive us.

Eventually, I felt I needed to tell my parents what we had “discovered”. We were completely wrapped up in this little game. I guess I must have been somewhat convincing when I explained things to my folks, because they actually took me to have a look around the park to see for themselves the “evidence” that we had discovered. Needless to say, there was no evidence. I was a little disappointed, but not deterred. Obviously the “Parkies” were too clever for my parents. We children knew that there was something going on. They couldn’t fool us.

Naturally, when we grew up a little, we realised how childish this had all been. Of course nothing was going on in the park. It was just a park. Nothing more. Just a park.

Soon, all this would become a barely-worth-mentioning childhood memory.

That would be the end of the story, except that I came across some interesting information last year. Apparently, the park and its environs were the site of some kind of civil defence installation, and that it had theoretically been operational at the time of our “investigations”. When I discovered this, I was utterly amazed: perhaps our childhood fantasies had some basis in reality after all.

Did you believe in a local mystery when you were a child? Your memories and other comments are welcome here.


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