Do you know what, I am thankful that I was born when I was born and not today.  How restricting childhood is today.  I can remember my childhood and having the freedom to play. Yes play in the street, play with other kids and enjoy our childhood.

I was just reading Jan Moir’s column in the Daily Mail and she said this:

April lives in the kind of old-fashioned, working-class community where everyone knows everybody else. On her home street, Bryn-y-Gog, the houses are circled like wagons, with a communal play area in the middle. In this tiny neighbourhood, surrounded by fields and hills, parents could depend on each other to keep an eye out for their kids.

I was brought up in an areas of two ups and two downs and exactly the same community spirit as April Jones lives in.  People knew everyone, and kids were allowed out to play in the streets and neighbours would keep an eye on other people’s children.

We never had Wiis or XBoxes or the latest gadget or craze.  We had something more precious.. freedom.  We climbed trees, played hopscotch, jacks, marbles and rode around on our barrows.

I never wanted to play with the girls, what they did, playing with Barbies and dolls and then skipping for hours on end, was too timid for me… I enjoyed playing with the boys.. they knew how to have fun and there was always an element of danger in what they were doing.

We came in for dinner, but sat with our hats and coats still on, rushing down our dinners, just to get back outside.  Food times were an inconvenience to us.. they halted fun.  And rain never confined us to indoors either, we always found somewhere to play and shelter from the elements.  And above all we were allowed to get dirty and we had a whale of time. And each and everyone of us thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our childhood.

I can always remember my parents asking me, as Christmas was approaching, what would I like Santa to bring me for Christmas… and my reply was I wanted a barrow like so and so’s up the road.  I didn’t want a bike, I just wanted this barrow.. you see the boy up the road had a great barrow and I wanted one just the same.  Of course my dad made me one for Christmas and bought me a bike with stabilizers on it.  Do you know what?  As soon as I opened up this barrow wrapped in tons of paper, I was straight outside climbing the hill of our road and hurling to the bottom at great speed in my new barrow.. I was over the moon that Santa had got me what I wanted.

Yes planks of scrap wood nailed together with large pram wheels on the back and small ones on the front.  You steered it with a piece of rope and for a brake you used the piece of wood bolted to the side.

Swings yes we had them down on the waste ground areas.. but they were old tyres tied to a tree with rope.  The times the branch broke and some lad would have to scale the tree again to put the rope around the next branch. Cuts and bruises, well we would compare how had the best cut or the largest bruise.. we used to be covered in them.  Did our parents try to wrap us in cotton wool?  No of course they didn’t.

Nowadays health and safety would go ballistic if they saw our barrows.  Our parents would be up in front of Social Services for allowing us freedom and for letting us go out to play and get injured.  Our parents, would be pilloried on the internet, for not being model parents and for not attaching us to their apron strings and for failing to watch of us 24/7, 365 days a year.  Our parents would be the new lynch mob victims for those self-righteous parents out there, that are so bloody perfect it is beyond believable.

Of course we were told where we could go and we were warned about who not to go near.  But like kids do, we ventured into the areas that were out of bounds, and we were grounded if we got caught.  Personally, I don’t think there are more paedophiles today than there were in my day.. it is just publicised more today.  All of us kids, were told to keep away from this man or that dirty old man… and we did.  We were told not to go off with strangers and during the day as we went out to play we would often see the local bobby who would be walking around the streets. Sometimes telling us off if we were doing wrong (which was more often than not) and he had the same message every day, always telling us never to go off with strangers or take sweets from strangers.

Just like April Jones, I lived in a community, all the people around knew us kids and if a stranger appeared in the street or area, some parent would make their presence known and the word spread fast that there was a stranger hanging around and our parents would be extra vigilant for a few days until things calmed down and then back to normal it was.

Would I trade my childhood for one of today… no way.


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