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Benfleet A1

Hector Of The House
Jan 19, 2007
Slade Prison
While having a wonder around the shop today it suddenly struck me just how little kids know of the real world and what they are missing out on. It started when my missus mentioned our niece and how it must cost her mum a fortune so she can wear all the clobber and make-up yet she hasn't two pennies to rub together. It made think just what pressures are put on parents to provide for their offsprings and how little the little darlings contribute towards it.

In todays world it seems that kids are educated to the perils of life through Play Stations and X-Boxes managing football teams and shooting Germans from 8 years old upwards but wouldn't be allowed to travel two stops on a bus until they hit 16.

I grew up on a rough old council estate where it was a good idea to toughen up pretty sharpish or be buried in a shallow grave. It was a villianous place to live with just about everyone at it in some form and the kids were left to their own devices when it came to entertaining themselves. There was a park with a couple of swings, a slide and an old wooden roundabout with half the slats missing. Running along one boundrey was a ditch, the rest was just field. One game that springs to mind was mud stick fights. All you needed was a bit of bamboo cane, mould a blob of mud onto the top and away you go. Twenty aside was the norm and the sky would turn brown with volleys of mud flying back and forth, screams filling the air when someone took a direct hit straight between the eyes, we looked like a pack of dalmations when it was tea time.

Football was always a serious affair with the bigger lads picking the teams and the small kids getting picked last and either getting chucked out on the wing where the only time you touched the ball was when you had to go and get it when it went out of play or you got lumbered in goal. It was always pop or rush in goal but that only applied if you where at least 12 and had trails with Arsenal, otherwise you never dared step of your line for fear of being battered.

Just down the road from us was West Woods. During the school holidays, kids would take them over from dawn to dusk doing a whole manner of things. Building dams in the ditches was always fun and blowing up termite nests passed the time as well. It wasn't uncommon to see some little git stirring a nest up with a stick then pouring a bit of petrol or meths in. Lob a match in then duck. If you were caught on the hop then the chances of getting a faceful of singed insects increased tenfold. Another good one was to dig a hole just of the path about 2ft square. cover it over with twigs and leaves then spit aniseed juice all over it. Dogs go mad for aniseed. How we giggled when a unsuspecting dogwalker would suddenly be wrentched of the path by their half crazed hound and dragged headlong into a ****** hole in the ground.

When was the last time you saw a treehouse in someones garden and I don't mean one from a garden centre that cost £700. The local chinese takeaway used to have everything delivered in woodern packing boxes. We would nick them and turn them into treehouses. And when I say we I do mean the kids not the parents. One good gust of wind would often bring them crashing to the ground so we would just hoist them back up and bang a few extra nails in. If you wanted money then you got up early on a sunday and started knocking on doors offering to wash cars or cut lawn. I made a couple of quid almost every weekend back in the day and when you consider that 50p was enough for a bus ride to Southend, one cinema ticket, a coke and a bag of chips then a couple of quid to an 8 year old was quite the princely sum.

Who remembers Corona fizzy drinks? Remember how if you took the bottle back then you got 2p back. Well we would jump over the fence of the local Newsagent and clear the lot out then take them all back to claim our money. They never got wise to dozens of kids marching in with bags full of bottles,some didn't even bother with that and just humped in a couple of crates. Little wonder Corona went down the shute. They must have been paying on average about £2.00 to get their bottles back. Penny for the Guy was another good money spinner, well in October/November anyway. Finding some old clothes and drawing a face on a bit of cardboard was part of the fun. Then it would be hauled up to the shops at Vic House Corner and every passer-by would be hounded for a penny. There was a girl around the corner who was a little on the simple side who stuck a mask on and flopped down in a wheelbarrow all day and made a fortune. People were impressed that 'Guy' looked like it was breathing and contributed to the fund for a fine effort.

Now its all computer games and consoles. Ask my nephew for an axe and he would probably pass me his play station guitar. Getting him to come down stairs for dinner resembles a decent of the Aiger going by the huffing and puffing I have witnessed. To be fair he has got a paper round.........which his mother does half the time because he can't be asked to climb out of his pit. I had two rounds and worked in a butchers on a saturday morning to fund clothes, records and football by the time I was 14.

People say it was safer back then but I wonder if that is really the case. I just think it was hidden from kids better and the press didn't scaremonger as much. As an example, I knew a family whos dad was never there. The usual excuse when a dad was missing was he worked on the oil rigs or abroad which normally ment he was banged up in Strangeways or Wormwood Scrubs for whatever reason. But this one never came home ever. He had been abusing his kids for years before he was finally caught and is probably still locked up to this day. Every single parent and adult for a 5 mile radius knew the truth but not one child ever was told. As far as we were concerned he worked away from home and that was it. I'm the same I suppose, my daughter is never out of my sight even when shes in the garden. I was going to school on my own, on the bus, at 5 years old. I was going to judo lessons at 7 by myself in Westcliff from Hadleigh and football on my tod at 8. I can't imagine any of that happening now.

Kids get everything on a plate nowadays and it makes me wonder just how they will cope on their own when good old ma and pa are not around anymore. They really don't know they are born.