I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days that all these memories come flooding back to me.
Changes Over the Years
Have you ever noticed just how much things have changed over the years? Little things that you never really thought about and that we take for granted in this modern day life.
For example, when I was a young kid, the only time we had fruit in the house was when someone was ill. We used to have blankets instead of these modern quilts. In fact, even having a blanket was considered posh. I remember having my Dads old RAF coat on my bed as a blanket. If your family had a car you were considered to be well-off, - the same went for a television. The first one I ever saw was in our neighbours house. It was a small 15 inch screen, set in a large box and we used to be invited in by the kids across the road from us to watch it with them. Then, some time later, my Dad came home with this massive 21 inch, push button one. It was a Stella make and looked massive compared to the one we used to watch across the road. The box it came in filled the living room and I remember my sister and I playing a game with it where we had to run towards it and try and jump inside it. I misjudged one jump and didn't quite make it! The box reared towards me, catching me right across the top of my nose and knocking me out.
The family across the road ran a taxi business and my Dad had given them permission to park their cars on the ground in front of our house. We used to play on these cars, much to the annoyance of the parents of the kids we played with. We used to slide down the mud guards of these cars and take away the petrol can that was always on the bottom of these guards - it was painful if we crashed into these cans! The spare wheel was always held on the opposite side from the petrol can, so we used to remove that as well by slackening the leather strap that held it in place. So, when their Dad came out to do a job, he always had to put these items back first which, looking back on it now, must have been really annoying for him.
Another trick we used to do, which was more of a dare really, was to jump onto the mudguard of the car on the opposite side of the driver so he couldn't see us as he reversed out onto the road. Then, by hanging onto the door handle, we got a run down to the bottom of the street where there was a roundabout. When he slowed down at this roundabout we used to jump off and run back up the street again.
Although our street was not what you would call a residential one, as there were lot of shops in it (in fact our parents had one of them; it was a café with a small shop), there were still a few of us kids living on it and we would always be outside playing there.
There were two pubs on our street, as well as the the British Legion club which was at the bottom, so there would be a lot of men coming out of these pubs at nine thirty in the evening - the closing time in those days. The surface of the road was cobbled back then and all the men cycled to the pubs or walked. We used to play chicken with them as they cycled down the road. Now the lights on these bikes were the old lantern type and not very powerful, so they would not see us in the dark as we pounced out in front of them! Of course we had to judge this just right and allow for the fact that the brakes on these old bikes were not all that good. Bearing in mind the person on the bike would be slightly inebriated to say the least, an accident was bound to happen.
In fact, on one occasion, I was run over by a cyclist and the T-shirt I was wearing got torn with the teeth of the gearing. This tear, along with the blood that came from my cut, put my sister and myself into a quandary for, if I were to go in and tell my parents, I would get a hiding (as we called it) for tearing my T-shirt as we did not have what you could call a large wardrobe in those days. Yet, at the same time, the cut on my back required attention. In the end we decided to say nothing, try to hide the cut and deny any knowledge as to how my T-shirt got torn. This, however, did not work as the cut bled during the night while I was sleeping and the blood went onto my sheets. I ended up with the hiding anyway - for both offences!
Another thing I noticed in those days was that all the men seemed to wear the same clothing; they wore forces uniform from what ever service they had been in, with a cloth cap and a rain coat. All the bikes looked the same as well and it always surprised us how they knew which one was their bike when they came out of the pub as we had been known to switch them around. Most of the men were in no condition to walk, let alone ride a bike! The groove marks from the handle bars of these bikes as they were placed against the walls over those years can still be seen today on all the buildings.
There's another thing I have noticed which is so different today; the fact that all these men came out of the pubs at the same time and made their way home without screaming and shouting or fighting each other. Of course, there were the odd raised voices as they shouted their farewells to each other as they made their way home and the odd disagreement where the voices were, indeed, raised, but it never came to anything in the end. The fact that we youngsters could remain amongst them as all this went on, feeling safe and secure, is a testament to the times back then.
Of course, back then, there were no computers for us to play with and the fact that there was not much on the television for us youngsters after Childrens Hour was finished meant that we were outside playing most of the time - after we had completed all our house jobs, of course, and we had fetched and filled all the coal scuttles. In fact, during the summer months when the days were, indeed, a lot longer, the whole gang of us would be out there in our bare feet playing ball games until late into the evening - as long as there was daylight usually.
Maybe it is because those were my younger days that I have these fond memories - or is it because things were so much different back then? I do not know the answer, but I do know for a fact that there is no way that children in these modern times could play in the streets like we did, in safety.