In the war-torn autumn of 1940, as Britain
faces the imminent threat of invasion, a young
lad, bombed out from an orphanage in London,
arrives in the English village of Widdlington to
live with his pious spinster aunt. He hopes to find a peaceful haven, but instead becomes embroiled in
conflict with local gangs of children, each with its territory, its leader and its traditional customs and
taboos. There’s also the school bully, nicknamed “The Slug”. Sooner or later the newcomer must either
fight “The Slug” or submit to his tyranny.
The young evacuee has already suffered from the air-raids in London. In Widdlington, He struggles to
find acceptance, but his aunt is not the easiest person to live with. A sense of belonging may be within
reach as he falls in love for the first time. Can this tender relationship survive gang turmoil and his aunt’s
The war-torn world of 1940, although very different from that of today, had a profound influence on contemporary life.
Part of the interest of this tale lies in the journey back to that world whose children are today’s great-grandparents. A further
part is the fascinating, never-ending story of love and hate, of power and influence, of territorial conflict, of the sense of
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I braced my belly against a leaden foreboding that couldn't be vomited out. I knew I would have to fight.
All I wanted was to be left peacefully alone, but the world isn't like that. Each time I started at a new school, it was either
fight or submit. But I was not the submitting kind.
I looked around apprehensively. I knew no one and no one knew me.
Not knowing what to do next, I sat on the low wall under the trees and watched what was going on. It was clear from the
metal stumps on the wall, that it had once been crowned with iron railings. Like so many elsewhere, these had been cut off for
scrap iron to make bullets and bombs.
Several boys came by looking sideways at me without speaking. They didn't want to be seen with me until my status had
been established. That depended in part on events and in part on the power and authority of someone not yet present
My experience told me that the person not yet present was the one I would probably have to fight. So I sat, watched and
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“Gang Territory” was honoured with the award of the Book Readers Appreciation Medallion in July 2012
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