By Elizabeth Thoumire
Seturday mornin, an I wis haein a daunder alang the road wi ma twa dugs. Gled as I wis tae be outside efter sic a miserable week o pourin rain, there wis still a muckle dub streetchin hauf wey ower ma path. There wis naebody else about for aw it wis a fine day. Leukin at the dub, an thinkin back tae masel as a bairn, I ken I wad hae been there, aither measurin it for lowpin ower or plowterin richt throu it. An no juist me; but alang wi ma brithers an aw the ither bairns out tae play in the street like we aye did. Sic rare fun we haed wi dubs!
I’m laith tae say it, but dubs the day are mair like tae be disturbit by a caur raither than a bairn. As faur as I can tell juist fae ma ain observations, bairns dinnae seem tae be ower keen tae play outside ony mair. I haurdly see them. Gaein by the habits o the bairns I dae see, an ken weel, unless it’s something organised that taks them out, they are mair like tae be sittin in the hous thirlt tae the screen o an Xbox or anither electronic device; aw their fun bein played out wi their pals in cyberspace raither than the real warld.
An takkin tent o hou mony o them get wheeched richt tae the schuil gates in the back o a caur, it stairts tae mak sense hou it is sae mony bairns o this generation are shawin signs o cairryin ower muckle wecht; I jalouse it’s no aw fae eatin sugary stuff, but mair tae dae wi no muivin about eneuch. It disnae dae a neebourhood ony guid aither whan the bairns wha bide in it are haurdly seen out an about. It’s anither threid lost atween generations. I dae think baith the bairns an community are the waur o it.
In our day we bairns war weel kent by awbody bidin round about. They wad see us fae their windaes an gie us a wave as we traipsed back an forrit tae the schuil; pass the time o day whan we war out playin in the street, bytimes askin ane o us tae gae a wee message; aiblins for a forpit o tatties fae the shop, or up tae the pigs pail at the tap o the street wi the peelins. An it wirkit baith weys. They gied us empty bottles tae mak sugarallie watter, jam jars for tadpoles an the like. E’en sortin our ills like takkin a spail out a sair haund or pittin a plaister on a skint knee. But, it aye wis dinnit intae us at hame that we war niver tae gae intae onybody’s hous e’en if invitit. We haed tae stey at the door.
Whan we cam hame efter the schuil, we got a piece slaithirt in treacle or condensed milk; than it wis straucht out tae play. Simmer nor winter, we warnae encourgit tae sit about the hous. In the cauld weather we war happit in nap coats agin the snell winds, but still they gied us scaudit legs an itchy chilblains on our taes!
Sae mony excitin gemms we haed! We lued Levoy, Chasie, Hide an Seek, Kick the Can, Throu the Fermer’s Tunnel; that last ane cairit forfeits for them as didnae rin fast eneuch! The laddies in partícular playit Cowboys an Indians or Coos an Ingans, as we kent it, whoopin their wey alang the passage atween the houses tae dreep the dyke at the end intae the nixt street. A crabbit wifie plaistert the dyke wi cement an stuck big jaggy bits o broken gless in it tae keep the bairns awa. There wis sic a stramash wi her neebours she haed tae gae out wi a rasp an file it doun till it wis smooth again!
We war niver short o things tae dae. “Hunty gowk” coud be heard shoutit aw ower the street as we catchit out fríends an neebours wi our April Fuils. On Victoria Day at the end o Mey there war bonfires aw ower the toun. We haed ours on the causey stanes at the tap o the road. We collectit firewid for days afore it, bytimes fechtin ower the ownership o it wi bairns fae ither streets. Ma brither was taen prísoner in a fecht an our faither haed tae gae an get him. He wis twa streets awa tied tae a palin stab wi a claes rope, a pile o wid stackit up round him! His jylers awa in for their tea!
It’s haurdly surprisin there wisnae a peck o fat on ony o us. If we warnae rinnin, we war climbin; up lamposts, ower railins. We skippit wi ropes, playit at rounders wi a bat an baw; peevers wi an empty bootpolish tin, chalkin out beds on the road wi pipe clay fae the drysauters. We haed races wi girds, rinnin alangside as we rollit them wi a stick up an doun the street. Spinnin a peerie an keepin it gaein wi a whip wis a skeel we aw haed tae maister! An o course, we makkit things! Gutties fae forkit twigs an a string o wee rubber bands. Pellets tae fire in them wi ticht foldit bits o paper. Guiders fae auld crates whan we coud find the wheels, hurtlin heid first doun the brae an round the corner like luge drivers at the Olympics but wi’out the safety element.
I cannae help but think we war a lucky generation. The anely caur owner in our street wis a drivin instructor! An we didnae hae the siren lure o the myriad o smaw screens that beguile an transfix sae mony young fowk the day. I anely wish I coud turn the clock back juist for a day an gie bairns a taste o the active life that we haed. It micht encourage them tae gae outside an hae some real fun an gemms!
Elizabeth is an Edinburgh-born airtist drawin an paintin maistly animals an birds. Forby that, she is pairt o the organisation Hands Up For Trad wha wirk tae increase the profile an visibílity o Scottish tradítional muisic an cultur throu information, education an advocacy.
For tips on readin Scots, alang wi a glossar o common wirds, see our cutty guide (written in English).
|about (pronounced ‘aboot’)||about|
|forpit||a measure of weight used mainly for the sale of root vegetables|
|guider||a home-made children’s cart steered with a rope|
|palin stab||fence post|
Social media thumbnail ímage: National Líbrar o Scotland