The sim­ple plea­sures of child­hood

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Paul Stainton -

Iwas ten years old dur­ing the sum­mer of 1976, a snotty, blonde haired, David Gower wannabe, with freck­les and a pen­chant for An­glo bub­bly.

For the whole of that sixweek sum­mer hol­i­day I only went in­side when I needed food or some­where to lay my weary head; it may be forty years ago, but I re­mem­ber it like it was yes­ter­day.

The parched, straw coloured grass and the long, steam­ing hot days, when it seemed to stay light for­ever and the games of cricket that con­tin­ued un­til it was pitch black, or when one of you got hit on the head (whichever came soon­est).

Blue skies and sun­shine ap­peared to greet ev­ery wak­ing day in that par­tic­u­lar school hol­i­day; there was no need to open the cur­tains in the morn­ing, you just knew it was go­ing to be another great day.

As kids you didn’t worry about stand pipes in the street or hosepipe bans, so what if the crops were dy­ing in the fields in 1976 or that Big Ben had seized up; as long as you had your sand­wiches, some squash and your bat and ball, ev­ery day was a glo­ri­ous one, when you were ten and the sun was in the sky.

The only dis­trac­tion was a tele­vi­sion, but then only on a Satur­day morn­ing, for the Phantom flan flinger and Noel Ed­monds’ knit­ted tank tops.

It was dif­fi­cult to choose be­tween the two shows and I would of­ten sit next to the telly, press­ing the big but­tons and chan­nel hop­ping, in or­der to catch the best bits of Tiswas or some big pop star on Swap Shop.

Where was Keith Cheg­win go­ing to be this week, who was in the Tiswas cage and would Spit the dog be­have?

For­ward wind forty years and my daugh­ter and ev­ery­one else’s kids have to be sur­gi­cally re­moved from their de­vices, be­fore you can push them, kick­ing and scream­ing, into the fresh air.

Of course they have a lot more de­mands on their time th­ese days and who is to say how we would have be­haved had we ac­cess to the gad­gets and giz­mos of to­day.

But I can’t help think­ing that whilst they spend the ma­jor­ity of their wak­ing hours in this vir­tual on­line world they are missing out on the sim­ple plea­sures in the real world, sim­ple plea­sures that cost noth­ing, yet teach you so much about life.

To­day’s chil­dren spend half the time we did play­ing out­side and in Peter­bor­ough that is a crime, with so many award win­ning parks and fan­tas­tic open spa­ces for them to choose from.

We learnt so much as kids from just be­ing out­doors and cre­at­ing ad­ven­tures with just the raw ma­te­ri­als at hand - climb­ing trees, build­ing a den, play­ing pooh sticks or hunt­ing for but­ter­flies and bugs – of­ten the best fun came out of be­ing bored and just find­ing some­thing to do.

I have re­sorted (with the help of other like-minded par­ents) to or­gan­is­ing “fun” days out­side with her friends and con­fis­cat­ing all de­vices; cries of “I’m bored,” were met with, “Here’s a stick, now get out­side and use your imag­i­na­tion.”

It’s amaz­ing how many things a stick can be; a wand, a broom, a pen or even a magic javelin! What’s also amaz­ing is how quickly they re­mem­ber to be chil­dren again.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.