Boys will be boys.

9 Jun

I live in London now and as I go about my business, I sometimes wonder. What do city kids do for fun? Things have changed since I was a child. Technology is now an everyday part of life. Games consoles, PC’s and laptops, smartphones and other devices, all take up our time, keep us amused, informed and often, indoors.

When I was 10 years old, I played games like Space Invaders, Pacman and Donkey Kong but they were only a small part of my day. Near where I lived, there was a corner shop. A few others and myself would gather at the door, each morning and await the owner to open up. We would gather round the arcade machine and watch as one of us played, eager for them to fail. Sometimes I got a go and I would do my best to get a high score.

We were a dedicated bunch of kids, all at the same school, all making the last minute dash at 5 to 9, it was only mile and we covered the distance easily and that was gaming 34 years ago. I spent much more time out and about, usually with other kids from my neighbourhood. We had a gang, consisting of every kid that was allowed out. Our patch was our estate, Barnmeadow Road.

As gangs go, we were the biggest, toughest and most reported in the local newspaper. We lowered the values of our parents properties by 15% in a two year period, such was our mischief. We never damaged property, deliberately but accidents happen. Our games were simple, hide and seek, fox and hounds, knock and run. We made gocarts from prams and raced them all over the place.

One summer, we made ‘The Limo!’ It would seat 6 kids! We had days of fun racing the other kids in their carts. Some big lads from a neighbouring gang seized our limo and try to destroy it. They climbed a tree, dragging it up with them and hurling it from the top. My heart sank as I watched it fall. It hit the ground, just as some big lads from our gang arrived. I watched as the front wheels flew off but the rest remained intact.

I screamed at my friends to attack these other lads and watched as the ran in fear from my friends. The Limo was fixed with a couple of 6 inch nails and we were racing it down my street again. The thought of watching helplessly as someone tried to destroy something of mine, stayed with me all day. I wanted to be bigger, to be able to stop them, if it happened again. I was as small as an average 6 year old and no match for my peers.

I was lucky to have 2 older brothers, otherwise, I would have been bullied at school and just about anywhere else I went. Size was important and I was a burden to my gang. I made up for this by being chirpy and a bit of a clown. I felt inadequate when it came to climbing trees, often needing help to get up into them. My brothers came up with a neat solution…… Nails!

There were and I hope, still are, some massive trees in our neighbourhood and surrounding countryside. It was a glorious summer and racing carts had become boring. Treehouses were our next passion. We scoured the streets and gardens for wood, big or small, it could be put to use somewhere. For me to get up a tree, my brothers would climb it first and nail bits of wood, if we had them or just leave the nails sticking out for me to gain purchase.

I would scramble up after them and stay close to the center of the tree, a bit scared of falling. I used a technique that mountain climbers use, keeping three limbs in contact and finding purchase with the fourth before moving up, sideways or down. I was slow, methodical and never once fell. Other lads, my brothers included, would jump or drop from branch to branch and amazingly, they never fell. (well a couple of times but nothing serious)

We had 3 treehouses in the space of a month and then we found an abandoned pigsty. This became our base for several years, during which time we added extra entrances. It was a hotly contested pigsty, with gangs from all over town, paying us visits, trying to claim it as their own. Many fights took place in that area. I was left in charge one day and given a catapult and stones, incase our enemies came.

Come they did! I lined them up, stone in sling and pulled back as far as I could. I yelled at them to “go away” not that politely but you can figure that bit. They saw me aiming and split in all directions. I focused on the closest and let him have it, the stone landed at my feet. I tried again but I wasn’t strong enough to use a catapult. I waited for them to get into the pigsty and used an emergency exit to escape.

Although small, I could run quite fast, when I thought my life was in danger and I covered the 2 fields in less than a minute, I raced up my street, got backup and we went and reclaimed our den. I was never left to guard it alone again.

I had many escapades as a child, I’m sure I’ll jot more down at some point. I wonder how much freedom kids have today. Many parents fear letting their kids run free, scared by what they’ve seen on tv or read in a paper. Not realising the damage they are doing. It saddens me, when I hear that a child thinks that milk comes from a supermarket and not a cow.  There is so much to discover, as a child……..

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3 Responses to “Boys will be boys.”

  1. 1emeraldcity June 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    I like this, David. It’s an honest, down to earth revelation of a boy’s life with his buddies, games played, and makes a revealing and entertaining fragment of the trials, tribulations and fun in growing up. Write on!

  2. reclaimed timber August 22, 2012 at 12:38 am #

    Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website
    is wonderful, as well as the content!

    • davidpotter67 August 22, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      Thankyou very much, most of what you see is due to wordpress. The only bit I do is write, get feed back, edit, then post. 🙂

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