Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer's over

What, you blinked and missed it? Word has it that Father Christmas has already shown up at Harrods.

Well you can't buy a pair of sandals or a swimming cozzie to save your life. What is it with 'getting ready for the next season'? Does no-one actually purchase things when they need them, rather than five months in advance? Is it only me who is either disorganised or impulsive (dependent on your outlook)?

Anyway I spotted this Back to School sale sign, and had to share the lurve...



On a bit of a tangent but not dissimilar tack, my local rag is bleating about the apparent crime wave (that is their take on the fact that this information has been made available under the Freedom of Information Act).

They have this very useful information:

Age of youngest person arrested for gun /firearm possession: 12

What a load of inflammatory alarmist clap trap! The kid in question (not one of mine) had a toy gun that shoots yellow plastic beads!

We do NOT have marauding gangs of gun toting feral children in this sleepy Berkshire backwater. It is frankly pathetic, to log a child with a toy gun as a firearms offense.

What is it with everyone in this country? One minute parents are criticised for wrapping their obese kids in cotton wool and force feeding them a virtual video world. The next a kid out playing with a toy gun is nicked on a firearms charge!

I had some splendid weaponry as a child. (My older relatives had the real deal as they were brought up playing on bomb sites in London, and handguns with live ammunition were widely available). But I was given a tremendous long arm spud gun from the 50s (by an older relative, who had grown out of it) which didn't half make the back of your legs sting when you took a plug. Then I had a proper air rifle. Now I rejoice in a longbow, with which I or my sons, were we so inclined, could do a dammed sight more harm than with an air gun that pings plastic balls.

Surely childhood is the time to work out your cowboys from your indians, to learn your cops from your robbers, by crawling about in the long grass, camouflaged up, armed to the teeth, pouncing on pirates?

Does no-one today remember Peter Pan? The epitome of childhood is the waging of bloodthirsty wars and doing noble and heroic deeds at great personal danger. If we don't expose our children to this traditional role play and physical activity, we are doomed to a nation of children who are either too timid to cross a road alone by the time they go to university, or so insular and anally retentive that they believe on-line gaming to be reality and with no empathy or proper role models, just go and blow people away. For real.

Yes it's obscene that young lads are gunning each other down in their beds and on the streets. But those children have not been allowed to be children. They are old before their time. And some of them are in their graves. Well before their time. Many of these children are bullied into crime by their older 'friends' who hide behind the children's relative immunity under the laws of criminal responsibility. This is different issue. And the mingling is silly tabloid journalism at best, at worst it will lead to a generation of desperately dysfunctional people.

The fear of litigation and the conflation of play with actual crime has led to a dichotomy in society whereby we have the pussycats on the one hand and the thugs on the other.

The Scandinavians are deliberately building risk back into children's playgrounds, the contention being that without risk-taking in play, children do not learn risk assessment and as a consequence are unable to see how to master risk situations when they do arise. Bless 'em, they can actually see that a bit of rope burn and scraped knees make our children safer, not the reverse.

I contend that unless children work out their fantasies with imaginative play in the physical world, they are in grave danger of being unable to cope with the reality that those of my generation know.

There is a bit of a backlash and Conn Iggulden's Dangerous Book for Boys is a joy and a delight to any parent of sons. But even that is tamer than it sounds. To my younger son's great chagrin, there was nothing in it at all about explosions...

Wherever did English childhood go? Where are the endless summers of youth? And what have we in store from a generation of children who never played? Let's build the risk back in and have society grow up a bit by remembering what childhood really is.

7 Comments:

Blogger Curmy said...

Here here Gavin.
(Our local Co-op had a "Back to School " sign up on the first day of the Hols (sigh)

Sat Aug 18, 12:58:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Gavin, wonderful; I agree with every word! "But those children have not been allowed to be children."...so very true and so very sad.

I too had an arsenal of wooden, metal and plastic guns, swords and knives.

Sat Aug 18, 08:15:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

I've just re-read what I wrote - I must have been on my hobby horse for that one! Don't think I drew breath!

Sat Aug 18, 06:37:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Span Ows said...

P.S. I've linked you in my Saturday post but have posted again since then re the slimey BBC appeasing you know who...things are hotting up.

Mon Aug 20, 12:09:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Ginro said...

I can remember, amongst other things, a group of us playing at William Tell using a real apple! And a bow and arrow of course. In our street as well so everyone was able to see us. The only remonstration from adults was an old guy walking past us saying "Hmmmm...you want to be careful there you know kids" and then walking off.

Mon Aug 20, 07:14:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Sarnia said...

Well said, Gavin.

My children are able to cope with the world as they have not been wrapped up in cotton wool - I let them walk to and from school from the age of about 8 (for example) as I did!

Wed Aug 22, 01:31:00 AM GMT+1  
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