Come with me, dear reader, to the playground of Westglade Infant School circa 1975, where a six year-old Young Master Sex has heard that, after the dinner hour, they're going to show the entire school a film - and it's not even anywhere near Christmas. Come the hour, a hundred or so youths, all dressed as if they have been loaded into a cannon and fired through a local branch of Cancer Research - sit cross-legged in the assembly room, unaware that we were going to be treated to 18 minutes of pure old-school 70s shit-up: Never Go WIth Strangers...
As any British person of a certain age will tell you, to be a kid in the 70s was to be absolutely bombarded with Public Information Films that warned you not to retrieve your frisbee from a substation, let your cat mess about near the river or hang around rubbish tips where Donald Pleasence lives, but this was a step up. For starters, it was the first time I'd ever heard someone talk about people doing 'rude things' without directly refering to me. Secondly, its absolutely rammeth with scariness, as jobbing actors willing to give up bit parts in any kids TV programme for the next 30 years stalk grubby Cockney urchins in flashing burgundy cars that go 'WAAAAAHHHHHH!' when a child hoves into view, clasping half a pound of Tooty Frooties in one filthy hand, and a sweet little baby donkey in the other.
I've had practically no luck digging out much information on this film, apart from the fact that it was already five years old when it got to us. But one thing I do know is that, by the time an enormous shadow looms over poor Lucy (a scene that ranks way up there with the News At Ten theme tune, The Humphries and the Watch Out There's A Thief About man as the scariest things EVER), every kid in that assembly hall has secretly vowed not to have anything to do with adults ever again. Because they're quite obviously all after our arses. (And the fact that pretty much every male in the 70s looked like a paedophile didn't help matters much - I mean, cop a load of the blonde pimp sitting in that playground...)
Amazingly, it wasn't until 1981 that the Government thought to replace it (with none other than Clifford from Acorn Antiques and what appears to be a frighteningly young Timothy Spall). Since then...who knows? Are these films even needed any more, seeing that virtually every newspaper and local news programme is paedo-mad these days, and kids don't seem to actually go out nowadays?
(Footnote: approximately one month after I saw that film, me and my mates were approached by a bloke in a Colombo overcoat at the bottom of our road, flashing a police warrant and asking us to go with him for questioning. And we were about to, until the nosey old bag opposite told him to piss off. I was well dischuffed, seeing as I'd already been in a police car for shoplifiting and thought it was dead exciting. It wasn't until ten years later, when I was lying in bed thinking about that moment in the early hours of the morning, that I sat bolt upright and screamed the entire street down)