Wagon Wheels and clip on roller skates

Wagon Wheels and roller skates

During this third lockdown, my children have discovered what it feels like to be actually bored. Until now, there has always been something to do, even if it was just to pop round to see their nana.

When I was a child, I can remember lying on my bedroom floor just looking at the ceiling, probably on a Sunday afternoon waiting for the charts to come on the radio so I could record it (ideally without any speaking). My brother would be watching Kick Start or Ski Sunday and my Dad would tape Bulls Eye on the VHS, with the controller on a wire, which my parents would watch after we had gone to bed.

My grandparents used to come over every Sunday for a roast, and every week throughout my childhood my nana would say, “No carrots for me love.” My Dad and Grandad would go ‘up’ the pub for a pint whilst my Mum cooked the dinner. Lunch was at two, even though the pub shut at three, “because three is nearly tea time John”.

My parents answered their phone by saying their number and using their ‘special voice’. When I was older and at secondary school I used to spend hours at the foot of the stairs, my feet up the wall chatting to my friends. I would wind the curly handset wire around my fingers or stretch it to snap-defying lengths while gabbing to the girls whom I had been with all day. Until the day arrived when my parents received a huge phone bill and decided to install a payphone. At first, I would give my friends three rings, which meant call me back, but this soon meant that they were taking my share of the phone bill and getting agro their end. So, I learnt how to pick the lock and could then use the same 5p coin thereafter.

My parents had a special key to make their calls, so still received a quarterly bill. However, with my lockpicking skills it meant that the bill wasn’t dramatically cheaper. My parents must have thought that they had been using the phone more than they had realised. This and the added nuisance of having to find the key each time they wanted to make a call, the payphone was no more and, with strict words about keeping it brief, I was back on the stairs with my feet up the wall discussing the merits of Matt over Luke and why was Craig even there?

Mum kept a well stocked Tupperware box in the fridge, filled with chocolate biscuits and goodies. The box was only replenished on a ‘Big Shop’ so “once it’s gone it’s gone and that includes your lunchbox” (Snoopy, red plastic with matching flask if you’re wondering). My brother and I only tested the threat once and ate until we felt sick, but then later in the month, as I was left watching my classmates eat Kit Kats and the like whilst I tried to enjoy Sunmaid raisins or an extra apple with the same gusto, we never did it again. 

I’m going back here, back to the days when a Wagon Wheel was as big as your head and a Findus Crispy Pancake was not considered processed food.

We were active though, my brother was always out on his Budgie then later his Grifter as he got older, I was on my Blue Denim bike or wearing my clip on roller skates. At school, we played French skipping – one in one off on off, or made up dance routines to Madonna’s Like a Virgin with no comprehension of what we were singing. The teachers must have raised a brow, not sure whether to point out how inappropriate it was, but we were oblivious and joyfully prancing around the playground and even up in assembly performing to the school ‘touched for the very first time…’

Wow, who remembers Mini Pops?! Google it in videos…shocking stuff!

This trip down memory lane makes me think how computers have changed a childhood. I remember a few years ago, as I took my own little family away for the weekend, I (on purpose) didn’t bring any chargers so that we could play board games and such. To be honest it was the actual opposite of the Little House on the Prairie image that I had envisaged and was instead a trauma that required a large quantity of alcohol to endure. To be fair the kids got over it quite quickly, it was me who struggled. I was bereft without the safety of my phone and I told the husband that it was because there were no land lines or phone boxes in case I needed 999, but really it was because I couldn’t Google the answers to my crossword.

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