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Saturday, 9 June 2012
Kids these days!
A lady asked me, not so long ago,
how different is childhood now
from when I was a boy.
I didn't need to think,
I might have rattled off a score
of points to talk about, but didn't try.
To me, one mattered more than all the rest:
that we were free.
We did stuff then they couldn't do today -
or if they did, they'd get it in the neck!
I had been sitting for a while in Greenwich Park,
near the children's playground there.
Swings, slides and roundabouts - and best of all...
a maypole hung with chains.
And children hanging on,
excitement antidote to fear,
hands clutching frantically above their heads.
Bodies flying out,
while other children used the chains
to whirl them round at speed...
until a teacher popped up from the crowd
and ordered them to leave the pole forthwith...
before you strain your wrists.
You've handwriting tomorrow. Think of that!
No one ever said that sort of thing to us.
The war, technology, the busy roads,
the web, I shouldn't wonder, all have changed
the boundaries, have drawn them in more tightly
like a noose around the growing child.
We bobbed around like yachts at a regatta
and somehow missed the rocks we hadn't seen.
And then again, at times not yachts, but river
boats - which sometimes for a moment put to sea.
The boundaries were generous, but still
would give a bit, allow some derring-do.
Our parents would have had their forty fits
to meet some of the folk we met - or see
the situations that we'd at times confront.
(The vicar would have gone on a retreat.)
A kinder world than this, instinctively we knew.
Knowledge robbed of understanding saw us through.