First of all, I need to have you swear to secrecy. This applies especially if you are aged over fifty. You see we did indeed have such a glorious time to be children that if ever any other groups find out about just how much fun it was then they will be cross.
I mean it is fine for us to chat amongst ourselves, but if ever kids of today find out just how much fun and adventure we had then they will start bleating about it “not being fair” and all that kind of rubbish.
The fact is that life isn’t fair, and actually for the majority of us, life is just what we make it. O.K. there are terrible situations in some parts of the world, and there are also children who suffer abuse at the hands of adults; but realistically for most of us life is pretty darned good.
The main difference between when we were kids and now, is that parents were far too busy trying to sort things to actually have much time for us. That meant that we all got to go off and make our own amusements – and how we did. Basically we had a kind of freedom that is just not available to kids in the western world. Parents are far more concerned about dangers and take much more care of their little ones.
Back in the day, however, mums were busily washing or ironing or cleaning the house without a quarter of the time and labour saving devices that now abound. To be perfectly honest I have no idea what my mother used to do, but being one of five kids I am sure that she had her hands full just making sure that we were fed and had clean clothes let alone anything else.
In consequence we made our own fun and would disappear from one meal to the next. Sometimes with slightly dangerous consequences, as I can illustrate. It was when we were living in Cyprus and my older sister and I had discovered a fantastic playground right next door to our house.
Someone was building a fortress there and I do mean a fortress. There were moats and semi underground walkways and walls and places to hide from the attacking armies. It was fantastic. OK it was awfully dusty and we did get covered in the white dust that seemed to be everywhere, but that didn’t stop us.
We played all kinds of games for a good three or four hours until we heard out mum calling us for lunch. Suddenly we realised that we were absolutely ravenous. We galloped back home and rushed in for lunch only to discover that our somewhat dusty shorts and T shirts were going to get us into trouble. “Oh bum”, I thought . “here comes that lecture about did we know how long it took to get things clean!”
But no. Instead of the lecture we were subjected toan interrogation that would have done any spymaster proud.
“Where had we been?”
“What had we been doing?”
“Exactly where did we find the white powder?”
“Was it in sacks?”
The next thing we knew we were both hauled upstairs and flung into the bath. After several hours of soaping, scrubbing and generally being cleaned to within an inch of our young lives we were finally hauled out of the bath and rinsed off with yet more cold water.
It turned out that our fantastic fortress was in fact a building site where new houses were being put up. And yes we had been playing there for about a week or so already, but the next phase of building had just begun. Our glorious fortress with all its moats and walls had in fact been the preparatory stage or “footings”. And now they had started to build the walls properly using building lime for cement. Apparently it was the material of choice on the island at that time.
And yes, that was the white dust that we had been covered in. We had been lucky not to have been blinded or worse and only the prompt washing and scrubbing had saved us from a rather nasty ending. In fact, even to this day my sister still bears a tiny scar on one knee and this all happened more than sixty years ago.
Sadly we had to give up our glorious fortress, as it was put strictly out of bounds. But I can assure you that we still managed to get up to just as much mischief elsewhere. More about that at another time perhaps. Just ask me about painting and you will see what I mean.