The events of the last few days have got me a bit nostalgic for my own childhood and how much simpler it was then. I am an 80's child and proud of it, I started the decade as a boy and ended it as a man, there were social issues then as well as now but life seemed, simpler less stressed more relaxed back then. I may be wrong and have rose tinted glasses of the whole decade, I'm not going to brush over and forget the struggle of many people back then, the Brixton and Tottenham riots, the Falkland wars, the miners strike, Derek Hatton and Liverpool, my own fathers struggles within ILEA and the GLC with Ken Livingston, his story to tell not mine, but we were less exposed to it all.
There was no Internet, twitter, Facebook or Blackberry messenger. The computers back then had 48k memory as a maximum, if you wanted to talk to your friends on the phone you went to a phone box to make the call. This blog is my way of remembering my childhood, to perhaps remind people that the society we have now is a product of, those of us who are parents anyway after all we brought them into this world, of our own neglect and need for better material items that we don't need. In my opinion we have forgotten how to have fun with our kids and the people who surround us.
When I was a kid we spent all day outside of the house in the summer. Summer holidays were spent playing cricket, tennis or football with my mates over the park. Arguments would ensue if one of us said they weren't out whilst playing cricket and the fairest system we had was to turn the bat upside down and try and stop the ball hitting the wicket with the handle. The days were hot, the grass was short and freshly cut and we looked out for each other. We knew of bad people our parents warned us to make sure we didn't accept lifts or sweets from strangers, but we always recognized a face in the park. If any of us swore too loudly we knew our parents would find out and we would be in trouble when we got home.
We would buy slurpees from the local 7-11 and sit amongst the trees, full of green leaves and shade, whilst we chatted about whatever was important to us at the time. We didn't need computer games, mobile phones, or Facebook. If you wanted to know if someone was in you went and knocked on their door. When the sun started to fade it was time to go home, we all walked together until gradually there was only me left as I lived the furthest away. At dinner We would sit round the table and share stories, my dad ranting about whatever injustice he felt Thatcher and her government had inflicted on the country that day, my mum making sure me and my sister ate all of our food.
The one thing both my parents did though was take an interest in what we did, they asked where we had been, who we had played with and what we intended to do tomorrow. When dinner was finished my dad would get a football, or a cricket bat and we would go into the garden to make the most of the last light of the day, then if we were playing football he would turn on the light in the garden and pretend we were under floodlights until my mum said enough was enough.
Whatever I wanted to do had to be earned, this could be by getting decent school reports or doing jobs around the house, simple things like washing up, cleaning the car and such forth. I would then be rewarded by being taken to play a sport and I played them all. I bonded with my dad, we may have separated slightly with our views on certain political issues but he made me the man I am today and for that I am forever grateful. My love of writing and reading comes from him and he's a published fiction author as well.
The music we listened to then was more fun, I was going to say better but doesn't every generation say that?. Music was about love and romance, you could sing along to it and you always had the slow dance at the end of a disco to make your feeble and ultimately humiliating attempt to try and impress the girl of your dreams. Most music nowadays is all hatred filled, rapping about violence, killing people, don't get me wrong I actually enjoy some rap music but for the most part I think it's shite, just this old guys opinion and I'm sticking to it.
We would never have dreamed of wearing our jeans around our knees with our arses hanging out, don't get me wrong there was some atrocious fashion in the 80's but come on how can that be comfortable? I don't want to see your cheap Primark pants either thanks very much. I guess what I miss the most is the sense of community that we had back then. Everyone looked out for each other. I remember going into my elderly neighbours after school and chatting to them for ages, eating butterscotch sweets and drinking rwhites lemonade.
Today we have become a society addicted to an electronic gadget, parents don't know or care where their kids are or what they are doing, products of broken families for who parenting was just too damn difficult. A country obsessed with people who win talent shows, of worshiping people who have done nothing more than sleep with a footballer and become famous for it. I am 38 years old, a father of 4 and I feel 78 after the past few days of riots.
I long for the times I have written about above, of playing with my mates over the park, of kicking a ball around with my dad, of sitting under trees and just passing the time, family dinners around the table and a life where we all knew each other down the street we lived in. When people talk about community that is what it means to me. We have allowed a generation to lose all of this, we haven't taken the time to do these things with our children or neighbours and know we are reaping what we sow.
I'm not saying everyone is like this, but there are large areas in London where people just don't care what their kids get up to and as long as they aren't in the house then it's fine. No child is too difficult to control and teach right from wrong. You have to have patience and trust, it's just too easy to give up and not take the time to spend with your child, or speak to your edlery neighbors. Perhaps I'm wistful for a past that only belongs in my head, I hope not, but perhaps I am.
I can't wait to get home and see my kids, yes I may be too tired some nights, but on those nights which are rare, I make it up to them the following night, I want my kids to write about me when I'm old and grey and say what a great time they had as kids and pass those stories onto their kids. That's what being a parent means to me, there is no greater honour to be told by a child they love you and that they had a great day. I'm going to make mistakes with them, I am aware of that but I will be able to hold my head up and say I tried, I never gave up on you when the going got tough, that I was always there for you even when you hated me and thought I was wrong, just like my mum and dad were for me.
I may be set in my ways and old before my time but just sometimes I wish I could go back to when people really mattered and pulled together rather than what we have now. Give me the 80's any day, it wasn't perfect but London was a better place to live in than it is now and deep down we all know it's our fault.
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