The 1970s was the happiest time to be alive; I had a large extended family, who all lived locally; I even attended the same school as my Uncle, who was about six months older than me. We were very close growing up and had a relationship akin to Brothers, even placed in the same class, during our first term at school. Family were a lot more important back then and as I reflect on the past, the older I get, I realise the importance of times that made me who I am; the last generation to survive without the rigours of modernity.
It was a decidedly chilly autumnal day, perfect for running around, keeping warm and enjoying the fresh air outside. The family were in my Grandmothers breakfast room, all sat around the central aisle, chatting about the weeks events. There was always something to talk about; people who had sadly passed, Mrs so in so who was pregnant again or the neighbour down the street who hadn’t been seen for several weeks. Curtain twitching, knowing each other's business and passing judgement on someone else, was common place in a close-knit community like ours and part of the lifeblood of families everywhere!
Outside my Uncle Paul and I were amusing ourselves in the garden, as all lads do. Grandad had bought us a pair of toy pistols from the Taxi shop in Highlands Road and dressed as a Cowboy and Indian we played a game of skulduggery and subterfuge– fighting, tripping one another up and pushing each other over. Mum, forever protective shouted from the conservatory door, ‘it will all end in tears if you aren’t careful, play nicely or come inside!’ Well boys do what they are preprogrammed to do and our games became ever more boisterous, part of the course in a health and safety free, 1970s Britain. Disregarding Mothers plea for a truce, we hid in the garage, away from prying eyes.
Uncompromising and focused, I was determined to get the upper hand, throwing a piece of wood towards my Uncle, who lowered his head just in time. Shocked that the object missed, I hid back in the corner by the garage door, waiting for the onslaught that would surely follow. Five minutes, must have passed, and I couldn’t hear a sound. From the protection of the darkness, I gradually stood up, unaware that my Uncle was standing, just a few feet away, holding a hammer in his hand. As I lifted my gaze, there was a thud; I was struck across the forehead, throwing me backwards into the recess. At first, I was too shocked to cry, but as the blood started trickling from my brow and the pain began to smart the tears also came to pass.
Sobbing uncontrollably, Mum came running in, opening the garage door and lifting me up towards her chest. ‘ I told you it would all end like this, you kids never listen!’ The tears were cascading down my blood stained cheek; taking a tissue from inside her sleeve, Mother tried to wipe the blood away, all the while, rubbing my arm, to make me feel better. After a few minutes, she carried me inside, followed gingerly by my Uncle Paul. Placing me on the draining board, next to the sink, she finally cleaned the wound and placed a butterfly plaster or two over the cut. Within a couple of minutes we were outside once again finishing our game of Cowboys and Indians, ignoring Mums plea for calm and wreaking havoc in our wake!
The rough and tumble of childhood was a large part of growing up, unlike today. Of course parents looked out for their children, but they did so without over protecting and stifling their sense of adventure. Kids will be kids, they will play, fight, kick and scream, throw each other around and generally let off steam. This is what young life should be about, as we take our first tentative steps into the World outside.
47 year old Author, Columnist and Blogger.