Sunday, 16 July 2017

Childhood Summers: theory number two

Thanks for the picture Mr Gibson

I heard a woman on the radio this morning who said that she deliberately gives her children as boring a Summer holiday as she can, on the basis that time flashes by when you are enjoying yourself with lots of excitement, but drags on forever when you are bored - particularly if you are a child.

Her motive for this is to ensure that her kids grow up with the same remembrance of seemingly endless Summer holidays as she has. For some reason, adults look back on these prolonged periods of acute boredom with fondness, and she would like her children to do the same. She also confiscates tablets, laptops and mobiles when on holiday for two reasons: first that she does not want any distractions from the children's boredom, and second that she would like the holiday photos of them looking straight at the camera and not head-down into a device, no matter how depressed and forlorn the expressions on their faces.

The presenter of this program interviewed some youngsters shortly after this caring mother, and asked them if they found Summer holidays boring. One girl said she hated them, and when asked how they were spent, she said she sat on a sofa with her brother all day, and they just stared at each other. "We hate each other," she explained.

One of the drawbacks to living in  a gardenless town flat during the Summer is the feeling of being trapped. Last night I looked at the green, wooded hills a couple of miles out of town and wished I was on them, watching the sun go down from that direction rather than this. This has happened every year of the 27 or so that I have lived here.

Before all you landed gentry go off on the familiar self-congratulatory sermons about how you made the right decisions at the right time and now have to constantly remind yourselves about how lucky you are to be in the heart of several acres of hard-earned real estate to enjoy the Autumns of your lives surrounded by greenery, let me tell you that the brief moments of melancholy that I experience every Summer have their roots in one particular week when I was a young boy living in a large house set in two and a half acres of private grounds fringed with a dense wood, in the middle of countless acres of more private estates which merged with the countryside proper as far as the eye could see, and the eye could see as far as Guildford - 15 miles away as the crow flies.

I must have been about 9 years old that hot Summer when my mother decided - for some reason - that I was not getting enough sleep, so sent me to bed at 8.30 every night.

I would lie on my bed in the broad daylight and in the pyjamas that she checked to see that I had put on, listening to my neighbourhood friends laughing, shouting and having fun about three acres away, through the three sets of wide open windows that were too high for me to climb out from. Sleep was, of course, impossible until it became properly dark and my friends had gone inside their own homes. It was absolute torture.

I am glad I live in a town which people travel the world to be in during the Summer. It helps me appreciate that it is good to be here during the cold, dark months following Christmas when they are gone, and that helps to temper the Summer melancholy.

41 comments:

  1. Everyone wants what everyone else has ..... you live in the most wonderful city and I am truly envious. You may not have a garden but you have fabulous buildings to ogle at every time you go out and countryside all around. None of us have everything do we ? How horrible to have had to lay in your bedroom listening to your friends having fun ..... what did you do whilst laying there apart from the obvious !!!!! XXXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't even do that. I was just preoccupied with angst.

      Yes, I do really have to remind myself that I live in a great place and the countryside is only a mile out of town. We are also lucky to be surrounded by hills. I moved from Cambridge to here, and all you can see there are the buildings - or the nearest ones.

      Delete
    2. ...and I moved from Canterbury to Cambridge. Same sort of urban vista.

      Delete
  2. I sit indoors all day with the lights on. The house is dark. I hate sitting outside.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. H.I. would refuse to live in a dark house, which is why every time I point out a fantastic 17th century house which I like, she says, "The windows are too small."

      Delete
    2. I grew up in one, I am used to it. The breakfast room, where I sit most of the time, has three separate windows, and is still dark.

      Delete
    3. That must be the artist in H.I ....... she wouldn't like our house .... late Victorian and dark at the back ..... the drawbacks of living in an old house. I love Cambridge ..... we live reasonably near to Cambridge and it also has it's merits. You have lived in some lovely places. XXXX

      Delete
    4. Every time we drove into London, H.I. would hanker after the row of purpose-built artist's houses in Chiswick, with huge, first floor to roof skylights. I think they sell for about £5 million these days. I hanker after dark, 17th century country houses so I can use my candlesticks all the time.

      Delete
    5. But to hate sitting outside in the Summer is just perverse.

      Delete
    6. To please both of you, you could spend a few million on one of the Arts and crafts houses known as St Paul's studios built in 1891 in West London. Not quite your favourite era but were built for artists with the most wonderful, huge windows and also have potential for candlesticks .... it could be your pied-de-terre !!! XXXX

      Delete
    7. Nah, I'm going to spend a few million on a moated house in Gloucestershire.

      Delete
    8. I sometimes sit outside in the early evening.

      Delete
    9. Oh good. You're not as loopy as you pretend to be then.

      Delete
    10. What's that supposed to mean? I don't pretend anything.

      Delete
    11. Oh ok. Substitute the word 'appear' for 'pretend'.

      Delete
  3. Summer is over-rated. How am I expected to take a siesta with the constant sound of the pool gurgling, the crickets noisily singing, and the sun beating down on my extensive estate. Bah, Humbug.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was waiting for that. I am now waiting for your talk of crackling log fires and merciful isolation from the rest of humanity. Oh well, I suppose you have to look on the bright side. Actually, a swimming pool is something that I do not envy anyone for. I hate swimming pools.

      Delete
    2. I literally just stopped off at my laptop on the way to the pool..... SPLASH!

      Delete
    3. Oh, you dropped your laptop in the pool? Hard luck.

      Delete
  4. Couldn't live in a dark house. Would live in a glass house if I could. I have two bathrooms in the house that don't have windows and I never use them. I even want windows in my closets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like light, but I have always wanted a dark oak-panelled room - preferably attached to a large, 17th century country house...

      Delete
  5. You got a bit more mileage from being cranky today. Does anyone have a happy childhood with no banners of unhappiness to bring, flying high, into maturity? A good read today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. H.I. seemed to have had the perfect childhood in a tiny terraced house in Sheffield. This was to do with her parents, aunts and uncles I think. I have never met anyone who has experienced such a happy childhood. This is why she cannot understand families in the rich South, and never has been able to.

      Delete
    2. They didn't even have a W.C. or bathroom inside the house until she was a teenager, never mind a swimming pool. They used to bath in a tin tub in front of a coal fire, just like a D H Lawrence novel.

      Delete
    3. I suppose it was before time; no cell phones to fret over, no latest movie to see, no do-dads to own. Actually, I had a carefree childhood, too, though I do recall telling the wind to stop blowing in my face.

      Delete
    4. Yes indeed. T.V. and cinema were our only screens. These days, the average kid looks at a screen every 2 minutes and sees the outside world through a lens more often than not. They are also their own blot on the landscape too - selfies.

      Delete
  6. Any reason why you can't get off your arse and drive out to those hills and enjoy the sun going down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There should be a question mark on the end of that imbecilic sentence, and no there isn't, you fool.

      Delete
  7. I don't think it ever occurred to me to be unhappy during childhood. Tin bath in front of the fire on Friday nights whether I needed it or not, loo at the bottom of the garden emptied every Saturday morning, no water laid on in the house - yet blissful childhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the closest to H.I.'s that I have heard of, Weave.

      Delete
  8. What's the matter with you, you prat, for some one who quite often makes inflammatory statements about people or circumstances, often when you're half pissed, you seem to find it difficult to accept similar comments by return. I suppose this is where you do your childish, I'm not going to listen to you any more thing, and delete any further comments.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Robert Louis Stephenson (a relative maybe?)wrote a beautiful poem called "bed by day" about a child having to go to bed in the summertime whilst the night's were still light. Very poignant.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sorry. It's Stevenson and the poem is bed in summer. The little grey cells are not working to full capacity.......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's ok Christina. Stephenson isn't my real name anyway.

      Delete
  11. Our summer days would end when the street lights came on. Other than meals we were outside. Its different now but we always found things to do and most of it was fairly safe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Streets were fairly safe too when I was a kid - I mean from traffic.

      Delete
  12. I would love to live in the centre of Bath all of those things on your doorstep to do. The Mr wanted to live in a village. It has no shop, no cafe no hair dressers nothing but a pub where you have to drive to it as its a main road and the car park (read Chelsea tractors) and verges (where you cant walk hence you have to drive to it). All the locals go into their house and I dont see them from one month to the next and I am surrounded by holiday homes that only are opened up for christmas. They have summer holiday homes else where.

    I am hoping for more life in the next move. And not having to drive 7 miles for a pint of milk if I have miscalculated.

    There is something to be said for being in the middle of it all. Especially as you get older. You dont have to drive everywhere and everything is on your doorstep. Although walking the dogs would be not so good as they like to run.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to like the discipline of going without whatever you forgot on your shopping list when living in the country. The other side of that is that it is a good feeling to be stocked up when isolated. Lots of logs, etc.

      Delete
  13. when isolated. Lots of logs, etc.


    gclub

    ReplyDelete