That's me that is. I must have been four years old, heading for five. I was a scruffy little monkey wasn't I? There I am with my hands thrust in my pockets, knees scuffed, socks down, shirt bulging out from an old hand-knitted jumper that I probably inherited from one of my older brothers. I am sure that my father would have taken that picture. He probably called me in from our garden or from the fields in front of our house. I don't look too happy about it.
My brothers and I enjoyed a lot of freedom from an early age. We'd be roaming round our village or down the canal or cycling to local farms or playing football up at the recreation ground. The world was, if not our oyster then our Yorkshire pudding. Like other parents in our village, ours seemed quite unconcerned about our safety. That was the way of things back then. Back doors were never locked and children were trusted to come home at teatime.
It was all very different for my two children. By the 1980's paedophilia had been invented and lurid stories in newspapers made it clear that life for children was now fraught with danger. They got knocked over by speeding cars or contracted deadly diseases or were targeted by kidnappers. Parents had to be protective and doors had to be locked. Society had slithered into a very different, far less carefree way of life. We could never go back.
But I remember making caves in haystacks, "borrowing" old rowing boats, building a den in Colonel Wood's wood, scrumping apples from Mrs Varley's trees, racing caterpillars, picking potatoes and peas for money, climbing horse chestnut trees to reach the biggest conkers and sharing tall stories with our peers. Yes - that once was me: that little ragamuffin in the photograph who became the man I am.
You've expressed this quite well. I'm always reminded as Halloween approaches how different my kids' celebrations were than those of my own childhood. Your sweet Phoebe and my four grands will have a different type childhood than their parents, as well. I try not to think of mine as being the "good old days" since I know the world was not necessarily a better place back then.ReplyDelete
Gilding the past seems to be a human tendency. As you suggest - not always justified.Delete
Was your birthday yesterday? I think it may have been. Happy Birthday, Neil!ReplyDelete
Things were very different for children not too long ago. I don't think childhood has been improved much in our modern world. What a sturdy little fellow you were! And you still look like yourself.
"Sturdy"? I like that and no, it wasn't my birthday yesterday Jennifer. It's the 8th.Delete
You haven't changed much have you?ReplyDelete
I have changed my clothes!Delete
I think Phoebe resembles her doting grandfather. You were a cute little ragamuffin.ReplyDelete
Phoebe will be in Toronto on Thursday evening Elaine. Please look out for her.Delete
Do I see a resemblance to Phoebe here?ReplyDelete
I, too, had a pretty hands-off childhood. We roamed the river and woods, dirt roads and Florida scrub. There were rattlers and cactus with thorns two inches long, the river was...well, a river. Dogs roamed free too. And the pedophile in my life lived in our house because he was my stepfather.
He wasn't make-believe. He was the real Bogeyman.Delete
I don't know how we survived really. I suppose there were some terrible accidents, but I can't remember them.ReplyDelete
I got knocked over by a speeding car but just bounced off.Delete
I led the same childhood as you did; I played in lonely woods and was out without a cell phone or contact with my parents for many hours. I allowed my daughters some of those same freedoms although the parenting of fear and paranoia had taken over the world by then.ReplyDelete
Most of that fear and paranoia is unjustified.Delete
Oh Lord, you were a cutie- I thought, at first, it was a photo of a Lenci.ReplyDelete
I was a doll wasn't I?Delete
I think Phoebe has definitely taken after you.ReplyDelete
Oh gawd, her life will be racked with self-doubt.Delete
You missed commenting on the tie and the collar. Yes we had freedom. We made choices and learn by experience to what risks to take.ReplyDelete
I believe the tie was on elastic.Delete
Dare I say it, but I was from the same mould. Always scruffy, with scuffed knees etc. Frankly, I've never understood how any small boys could be any different.ReplyDelete
A bit of muck never did anyone any harm.Delete
Were you also wearing a tie in that photo?ReplyDelete
Yes I was. One had to keep up appearances Tigger.Delete
My childhood was a little later than yours, but still spent very freely apart from school hours, of course. We had to be in at 6:00 pm and mostly met that goal, but although we had been warned to go to certain areas of town on our own, nobody really knew where we were or what we did when not at home.ReplyDelete
There were of course a few scratches and bumps, but never anything serious; I climbed trees and walls, rode my bike and my roller skates, walked on the fields (yes, that love started back then) and in the parks whenever I could - sometimes with friends, but also on my own.
We were suitably dressed for outdoor activities and so our Mum never had to complain about us tearing up or staining our "Sunday best" (which we didn't really have in the classic sense anyway).
Nice to hear you also knew more freedom than today's kids experience.Delete
Such a lovely photo and doesn't Phoebe look like you.ReplyDelete
We used to go to the beach on our own swimming in the sea and never gave a thought to the danger, like you say we were free with hardly any restrictions.
We rode bikes and scooters without knee pads and helmets. I feel so sorry for the tots with helmets falling over their little eyes now.
Our kids played out in the street every day and loved it, now, we only see the kids on their way to and from school.
Oh those bloody helmets! We might as well cushion them in cotton wool.Delete
You look like a very naughty little boy...quite cute though!! I also saw a likeness to Phoebe.ReplyDelete
I am still naughty Frances! Just like you in that respect.Delete
Cute little fella!ReplyDelete
You can bounce me on your knee if you like Kylie!Delete
I remember when I was a child, my mother worked days and my father worked nights. In the summer, we made it a point to get up early and head off for the woods or the creek. We took a gallon of kool-aid that had been mixed up the previous night and then stuck in the freezer. We made sandwiches. We were no where to be found during the day because if we were home, and our father slept poorly, it automatically became our fault. The entire day! Our parents were quite happy with the arrangement. By the time that I was a mother, the idea of this was inconceivable to me. Now I am a grandmother. If one of mine disappeared for the day, I'd be sick with worry.ReplyDelete
Parents of yesteryear never seemed to worry.Delete
PS...I love that picture.ReplyDelete
I am glad I have it.Delete
You are a harum-scarum Bairn.ReplyDelete
A Laddylad, as they used to say.
Tigger spotted that you are wearing a tie.
I am the only guy in the city who wears a tie on Saturday.
My tie is loosely knotted like yours, a wee bit askew, like the shirt collar.
It's important to be smart in both senses of the word.Delete
'ee tha were a bonny lad!ReplyDelete
Phoebe's eyes are the same as yours, but no doubt she'll pay a little more attention to her sartorial appearance by the time she's four.
She's already got an extensive wardrobe Carol. She's my daughter's Barbie doll.Delete
Reminds me of Richmal Crompton's books about William - he looked like that in the illustrations (except he also often wore a cap). I read some of them back in my childhood - in the Swedish translations he was called Bill. They were probably my first introduction to a lot of English holiday traditions (like Halloween and Guy Fawkes and whatnot) As for freedom etc it was a bit like that in my childhood too, though. I grew up in a village too (from age 5) and with the woods right behind our house. We (kids in our neighbourhood) were playing out of sight from our housewife mums a lot of the time.ReplyDelete
Good to know that Swedish kids also experienced that kind of freedom.Delete
Jaycee took the words right out of my mouth!ReplyDelete
I know a few more things than I did then!Delete