Baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint and the babies were allowed to chew and lick the bars. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles. Babies were given the empty tablet bottles to play with, sometimes with Smarties in them for colour and interest.
As children, we were driven around in cars with no seat belts or airbags – being in the front passenger seat was a treat. We rode our bikes without helmets. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and nobody died from it. We ate chips, tapioca, and bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy lemonade with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing. We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. The nearest parent was ‘Boss’ and we took correction when it was handed out.
Hours were spent building go-carts out of scraps of wood and metal and then tested at top speed down the hill, only to find out we had forgotten to add any brakes.
We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no DVD movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, and no Internet chat rooms. We had friends; we went outside and found them. We played elastics and rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt.
We walked to school and to friend’s houses. We made up games with sticks and tennis balls. We played Box the Fox and were afraid of the owners catching us. We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones but there were no law suits. We had full on fistfights but no prosecution followed from other parents.
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. We were taught that ‘Sticks and stones might break our bones, but that names would never hurt us!’
We had no central heating and sometimes in the winter the frost on the bedroom windows was on the inside. We sat round the fireside at night and while our fronts were roasted our backs were frozen cold. We listened to plays on the radio and pictured the characters inside our heads.
Life was simple, slower and we found entertainment without it costing money.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like my comforts!