Born in the 60s or 70s? Read on...
According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were babies in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s probably shouldn't have survived, because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was regularly chewed and licked. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles or baby monitors or latches on cabinets, and it was fine to play with pans and cardboard boxes.
When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip-flops and fluorescent 'spokey dokeys' on our wheels. If we rode in cars we had no seatbelts in the back, and riding in the boot was a real treat. We drank water from garden hoses and public fountains and it tasted just the same. We scrumped apples and ate blackberries without washing them first. Of course we ate chips and wham bars and drank full-fat milk, but were never overweight because we were always playing out. We shared one Lilt or Panda Shandy between four friends - from the same bottle or can - and no one died from it. We would spend several hours re-building go-carts, then go top speed down the hill, only to find out we'd forgotten the brakes. After running into a patch of stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.
We looked out for the other kids on our street we knew who lived in each house, and not everybody was a paedophile. We didn't have televisions in our bedrooms and there were only three or four channels. Sometimes, the television just got switched off!! When it rained we played cards, or built things from Lego, Meccano, papier maché, egg cartons and pasta shells. Sometimes we listened to the radio. There was no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no DVDs, no Internet chat-rooms, or MSN. We had friends - we went outside and found them. We played penny-up-the-wall, football, manhunt and skipping. In the summer we had water-fights with kids we hardly knew and organised big games of football and rounders. Sometimes that ball really hurt. We fell off skateboards and out of trees. We double-dared each other and sometimes it didn't work out. We grazed knees and broke bones, but there were no law suits. We wore our scars with pride. We played Knock Down Ginger
and were actually afraid of the owners catching up with us. We were scared of the old lady who lived on the corner - not the other way round. The corner shop let the four of us in at the same time, and those pretend cigarettes are definitely not the reason some of us smoke as adults. We walked to friends' homes. If they lived quite far away, we borrowed our next-door-neighbour's bike. We also, believe it or not, walked to school; we didn't rely on Mummy to drive us to school as it was just round the corner. We made up games with sticks and punctured beachballs. We rode bikes in packs of seven and wore our coats by only the hood. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we had a run-in with the law was unheard of; their punishments were usually worse...
That generation produced some of the best risk-takers, problem-solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. Not every one of us passed our exams at school, not everybody did well at everything, and not everyone had a gap-year. But it all turned out okay, and everybody learnt to cope with the hard bits. And you're one of them. Congratulations!
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