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Bohemia remembered

An enormous Guy Fawkes, made by Vic for his children. It is fixed to a go cart for touring round the streets, eventually to be burnt on the allotments

An enormous Guy Fawkes, made by Vic for his children. It is fixed to a go cart for touring round the streets, eventually to be burnt on the allotments

Part 1 of a series of extracts from Vic’s forthcoming book

Out of school hours: this was of their own making and seasonal. Winter was sliding on ice formed on large puddles and you were not welcome on a slide if you had studs in your boots – it ruined the surface. Then of course with snow came sledging, with home-made toboggans of many descriptions. Spring saw the onset of marbles and games with fag cards – cards on various themes issued with packets of cigarettes. So many were stood against the wall and by flicking other cards you had to try to knock them down, keeping the ones you did. This game was also played with milk bottle tops, milk being delivered in glass bottles with press-in cardboard caps. Then on through Spring to bird nesting, only taking one egg from the nest. And then fishing: no posh rods and reels, but a six foot cane with line and a float tied on. When fishing in the park it was always one eye out for the park keeper, because we never had fishing permits. Sweet chestnuts: always plenty to gather but the secret was where to find the big ones. In Summer we also built camps in the woods or walked miles exploring, often going out early in the morning and not getting back till evening. Nobody had to worry – as my mother used to say “He’ll come home when he’s hungry.” Mind you, we were always told not to accept sweets from strangers, a warning far more necessary today. It seems that child molesting seems much more prevalent now than then – is it just more publicity? Then in November it was ‘Penny For The Guy’, which lasted about a week (see picture). Then it was Christmas and carol singing. Any lad who knew his carols and could sing made quite a few bob going from door to door – not as it is now with two lines of We Wish You A Merry Christmas and then ring the bell. Football was not the mania it is today, in fact you were lucky to possess a football – and then it was a heavy leather one. Did we have favourite teams? – not to my recollection, though the Cup Final, both professional and amateur, provoked strong interest: lots of little boys running about with their teams’ rosettes on. It was the same with the Boat Race – everyone supporting one or other with rosettes and even the newspapers making a big thing of it. Hobbies included stamp collecting, cigarette cards, train numbers and even car number plates, special care being taken to record the latest models.                   
To be continued…

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