Three of our grandchildren stayed overnight last week; Ted, four, Tommy, nine and Angelina, twelve. We took them to my home village of Ockbrook. I thought they ought to know a little concerning my own dodgy background and upbringing. ( see 'A childhood Revisited' at the beginning of my blog.)
Unfortunately the weather excelled itself. We all got out of the car near the Moravian chapel I attended for all of my youth. Within twenty seconds of us alighting there lightning flashed ominously, lighting up the sky, followed immediately by horrendous claps of thunder. (We were taught as children that each second between lightning and thunder is one mile distance between the two. indicating how far away is the storm. Were we taught correctly?) The children were alarmed, Angelina particularly so. 'God's not amused by the infrequency of my visits to his house' I mused as we all dived back in the car. Our visit to my childhood pastures had lasted all of one minute!
The children enjoyed their weekend with granddad and grandma. (They live approximately one hundred yards away!) Paulette produced Snakes and Ladders and Cluedo, the former much appreciated particularly by Ted. But I noticed their own choice of entertainment consisted in the main (when the various televisions in our house are switched off) of various hand held devices with bright lit screens. I don't pretend to know 'what it's all about, Alfie', but by goodness it keeps them quiet! There are good and bad points to such obviously addictive electronic amusement but I couldn't help thinking back to my own childhood.
Much of my childhood was spent outdoors. On farms amid animals and machinery. Or near the railway lines that ran through the next village. In summer learning to swim in the putrid water of the Erewash Canal; or the tempting but highly dangerous currents of the River Derwent. Indoors enjoying the delights of Subbuteo or printing rude words with the aid of a John Bull printing set.
The fifties were extremely unsophisticated times, certainly if compared to what's on offer to the young of the westernised world in the present century. So much has changed; so much is different today.
Eagle comic first surfaced on the 14th April, 1950, priced three pence, later rising to four and a half pence. (old money before decimalization. double the price of most other comics.) The Eagle was a comic that in many ways was before its time. Much of it in colour, it was innovative in so many ways. It brought inventions and technology into the lives of children. It pushed the grimness of the recently fought war into the background. It was exciting, and it brought its readers new heroes: Dan Dare, PC49 and Harris Tweed. No wonder at its peak it sold over one million copies per week. as a young teenage boy (born 1939) I loved it all. Happy days, yet looking at some pages today, I marvel as to how things, particularly language has changed since my youth.In the Eagle comics of the fifties there are frequent mention of 'chums, chaps and fellows'. There is a quaintness about the time. A 'criminal' in PC49 exclaims, ''Lumee, its a fair cop" when arrested. There is talk of 'grub' and 'yippee' is a frequent exclamation. A young reader writes in all innocence to say he lives in a 'queer' place! (In Eagle's early days its badge for a readers outstanding 'courage and service' was called a MUGS badge! (Later changed to a Silver Eagle Badge.) The stated aim of the Hulton Press, proprietors of the Eagle, was to create a comic that, unlike American counterparts, was both 'wholesome and decent'. Times have changed and I have no doubt many will say 'not for the better'. I honestly don't know, you tell me!
Two little 'foods for thought'. Near to my home in one particular place in Derby was a shoe shop called 'Gay Shoes ' Why did it change its name to Alvaston Shoes I wonder. And during my youth a boxer by the name of Randy Turpin was my hero. Presumably Randy was a nickname. I wonder if 'Randy' would raise the eyebrows most then or now. I wonder, I truly do!