Sue Limb

Codgers and crones come out to play

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE - Sue Limb con­tact @sue_limb

As the years turn, one in­evitably ap­proaches one’s sec­ond child­hood. My first one was spent in the 1950s. Just imag­ine: there was only one sort of milk, which ap­peared on the doorstep in glass bot­tles. We slept un­der ei­der­downs, not du­vets: and we were all quite thin, per­haps be­cause when we wanted to change the TV chan­nel we had to get up off the sofa. Such a prim­i­tive life­style!

Al­though in those days, life­styles hadn’t been in­vented. We ate fish paste sand­wiches and spam frit­ters with­out flinch­ing. So why, look­ing back to that be­nighted era, do I re­mem­ber so many things with rap­ture?

Be­cause I was a child. The sim­plest things gave un­al­loyed joy. I re­mem­ber rid­ing on my dad’s shoul­ders – higher than any­body, I felt like the queen of ev­ery­thing. Or I would beg my dad to let me stand on his feet and be walked back­wards. Dress­ing up was the most fun you could ever have, or if it was fine, hop­scotch was the per­fect way to spend a sum­mer af­ter­noon, a plas­ticfree ex­pe­ri­ence.

Back then, the knock at the door was so ex­cit­ing: “Can Sue come out to play?” Nowa­days no­body knocks on the door ex­cept to de­liver pack­ages from Ama­zon, and one wor­ries about the peo­ple who packed the pack­age: are they al­lowed enough lava­tory breaks?

I’m all ready to plunge back into my sec­ond child­hood, but I am won­der­ing if I’ll be up to it. Climb­ing trees, for ex­am­ple. I used to adore swing­ing my way up, look­ing down through the branches. Un­like a Den­nis Pot­ter char­ac­ter, I never spot­ted any ru­ral hanky panky. But will I be able to climb trees with the same ef­fort­less panache when I’m eighty? Al­ready I need a block and tackle to get me off the sofa.

Driv­ing around Ire­land once I came to one of those mag­i­cal old over­grown es­tates, and I re­mem­ber a quaint bridge and a quaint story about a very old lady who had died whilst climb­ing a tree, aged 100. (The lady, not the tree – al­though trees ef­fort­lessly out­last us which is why they of­ten look so smug. Es­pe­cially poplars.)

Part of the thrill of be­ing up a tree was the seclu­sion. Why is hid­ing so in­tox­i­cat­ing? Hide and Seek… much of child­hood seemed to re­volve around it. The mak­ing of dens was a real thrill. My mother would put an old blan­ket over the din­ing ta­ble and in­stantly there was a se­cret place that was mine. I’d crawl un­der there with my teddy bears and start a small school (such a nerd even then!).

If I cov­ered the din­ing ta­ble with a blan­ket nowa­days – al­though blan­kets have be­come ‘throws’ – would I be able to crawl un­der­neath and sit com­fort­ably on the floor? Alas! Paramedics and pos­si­bly even the fire bri­gade would have to be sum­moned to ex­tri­cate me.

My favourite place to hide was the air­ing cup­board. I’d vault up there ef­fort­lessly, and curl up cosily like an em­bryo on the lovely warm folded sheets. Was all that hid­ing a lit­tle bit Back to the Womb?

When my poor mother brought the clean linen up and opened the door, I would star­tle her with a hor­rid yell, and it was clear that the no­tion of Back to the Womb would not be wel­come. I can cer­tainly still pro­duce a hor­rid yell – in fact when I bend down to pick any­thing up off the floor, a hor­rid yell bursts from my lips whether I in­tend it or not.

Ah! Those old play­ground games! One could cer­tainly limp stiffly through a few of those. “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” De­li­ciously fright­en­ing, al­though I don’t think there were wolves in Bri­tain even as long ago as the 1950s. ‘The farmer wants a wife’. Af­ter nearly 30 years as a de facto farmer’s wife, I might sit that one out. “In came a bo­gey­man and knocked her out.” Some­how that phrase has been spoiled for me by Don­ald Trump.

But, heck, th­ese are de­tails. Why do we have to put away child­ish things? Let’s have ’em out again, let rip and then run home with grazed knees, howl­ing!

‘I’m all ready to plunge back into my sec­ond child­hood, but I am won­der­ing if I’ll be up to it’

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