A SPOT of childhood stargazing reached a rather creepy conclusion after the local bobby joined in the conversation.

It's now well over half a century ago since Joe Jones, the Sutton memory man from Irwin Road, joined his gang of street-corner young mates in the wintry dusk for that gaze into the darkening heavens. But the episode still gleams brightly in his mind.

Here's Joe's little tale...

"We kids, aged about five or six, were sitting on the pavement with our backs up against a gable-end wall, within the rays of the old corner gaslamp. Overhead the dark-blue sky was filled with thousands of stars.

"Then, from out of the shadows emerged the local bobby to ask us what we were up to.

"As one, we gang replied 'Watching the stars.'"

That's when the friendly neighbourhood copper set the astronomical ball rolling, by asking the urchins if they knew what stars were.

As they shook their heads, the man in the cape and helmet told them that the large bright stars were guardian angels watching over the other smaller stars which were the souls of the good people who had once lived on earth.

The gang then started an excited discussion about the 'starry merits' of dearly-departed grandparents and other late relatives. Then, as the bobby was leaving the scene, he turned to say: "Don't stay out late. Go to bed early and one day you'll be up there with the stars."

Whether or not it was his intention to persuade the kids to return home before total darkness descended is open to debate. "But," says Joe, "after the bobby disappeared round the corner the old gaslamp was left to shed its beam on a deserted space."

I RATHER think they were scared at the prospect of being hoisted into the heavens, rather than seeking to become potential stars!