"I remember my years as a young boy in the 1950's growing up on Windybank Estate. This was a time of constant wonder and permanent exploration; days of 'waste not, want not' and where every boisterous child's automatic response waiting at the end of their tongue to jump off was, 'It wasn't me who broke your window, mister, honest it wasn't!
These were days when hearts were strong, money was scarce but imagination fueled boundless energy in the games that boys and girls played. Between the end of the school day and settling down in bed for the night, children would be active in exploration, mischief and play. Armed with very little money, we used whatever imagination and skill we possessed, along with everyday items that could be found lying about the home to modify and facilitate our fun.
Spinning tops, chalk and flagstones, skipping ropes from washing lines, marbles, conkers, playing cricket against the lamp post, football in the street and kick can and hook it; all these activities were but a few games I recall. Cowboys and Indians were enacted, aided by mother's brush handle that stood in as a sturdy steed as the boy ran astride it with a handkerchief covering their mouth as they played the part of a cowboy 'baddie'. Indeed, all it took to transform any snotty-nosed estate kid into Sitting Bull, Chief of the great Sioux nation was one chicken feather fastened around their head. A dustbin lid was often made to double as Ivanhoe's shield and mother's long-handled baking spoon or dad's bicycle pump as the knight's trusty sword.
As we approached our teenage years, the more curious among us might persuade a few of the girls to play 'Post Man's Knock' where the reward was a kiss. It was only after one had played the more grown-up game of 'I will if you will' that one realised that childhood games had ended and work in the mill loomed large on the horizon.
I know it seems incredible today, but I have known three or four girls/young women who were at the point of giving birth before they realised they were pregnant! There was no knowledge about the development of one's body provided by school teachers apart from 'cleanliness is next to Godliness' and the only way boys and girls found out the consequences of this action or that was to suck it and see, besides reading the occasional naughty scribblings on public toilet walls within the privacy of their cubicle.
Full adulthood meant early marriage and late evenings home from working overtime in the foundry. By marriage, most newlyweds knew how to have children, but few knew how not to without pulling up before your horse reached the finishing post. I think that I must have been in my thirties before I heard that such places as 'Old Folk's Homes' existed. I'd been brought up believing that when one's parents grew old and infirm, they came to live and die at your house instead of being put out to grass in some other strange place.
I also recall that when a man and woman got married and they had no money with which to put down as a deposit on their own place, they'd live in the allotment shed before they'd think of starting off married life under the same roof as mum and dad. As for divorce, that was something that rich and spoilt married couples did and was never contemplated by the ordinary man and woman. I remember in the 50's and 60's, if a young married couple fell out and one of them went back home for sympathy and to stay a while at their parent's house, their father and mother would tell them to get back to their partner where they belong. As they were pushed out the door with the parental reminder of, 'You made your bed, so lie in it!' they knew that any marital problems would never be sorted out if not faced and instead, run away from.
I'm not saying that we had it right in my day and the young ones today have it wrong as I'm sure that each time had their day. I am saying though that the times then and now are so different and so are the people who populate this upside down society!" William Forde: September 22nd, 2017.