Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"I'm bored!"

"I'm bored! There's nothing to do!!

I doubt there are many parents out there who haven't heard this from their children over the last 30 years or so. Back in the day when I was young, the usual response from my mother or father was along the lines of "only boring people get bored" or "why don't you read a book?". As a result, I rarely said that I was bored - I just found something to do.

And back in the sixties and seventies that was a lot harder than today. We didn't have the Internet, home computers, mobile phones, PSPs or iPods. There was nothing on television until around 4 o'clock in the afternoon and only three channels to choose from. We had a recreation ground with some goalposts, a roundabout and a couple of swings, but we didn't have skateboard parks, youth clubs or leisure centres (the last two started to appear in my late teens, but by then I was too busy with other stuff).

Most of all, we had no money. Let's be clear about this. I had pocket money - which had not changed since pre-decimalisation. Up until the time I started work I got just half a crown pocket money - 12 ½ p in today's money. I didn't get paid for doing my regular chores, although voluntarily doing something outside of my regular duties could earn a few pence here and there - usually the change from a trip to the grocer, butcher or from running down to the tobacconist to get my dad a packet of Senior Service.

I would guess, on average, I would have less than 20p a week spending money. Even so, a fair proportion of that went into my money box - around 5p a week. The rest I would fritter away on Mivvi ice lollies, lemon bonbons and liquorice all sorts. Money was something that we youngsters just didn't have back then - certainly not in a predominantly working class part of Slough, anyway.

Kids today have access to more opportunities, more activities and more facilities than they have at any other time in the past - and more kids today have the money to spend too. Isn't it rather ironic that our materialistic society still can not see that there is more to life than more "things".

The one thing we had more of back then than they do now is freedom.

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