Ode to a Playground 28/1
As a navy brat, born 25 years after the end of WW2, my playground consisted of gun emplacements, pillboxes, mysteriously short narrow guage tracks which petered into undergrowth; large swaiths of concrete and other debris that littered the south coast.
I remember vividly one weekend, there was a cycling race, and we were at a time keeping spot near an hanger, covered in grass. A bygone, disused object from a war still within living memory of all the adults I met. I remember running around it, climbing all over it, standing on the top of it, to do my Nelson impersonation: “I see no ships”.
Dared by the boys, I pushed the buckled door. The inside was cold, dark, full of cobwebs and fat bellied spiders. There was a window, metal of some description, at one end; the glass long gone. It provided sheter from the sun for millions of ladybirds. Yes, it was that summer.
No one seemed to mind us climbing – without ropes, harnesses or heaven forbid helmets, over the rusting gun carriages that lurked nearby. If we fell and scraped our knees, elbows, pride – we didn’t scream or cry. We dusted down, carried on. We were the last of the seen and not heard generation, born to the babyboomers or (in my case) the last of the silent generation.
I would imagine now, whereever this idyl was, it’s gone. Buried under housing, bulldozed by the MOD. Perhaps, nature reclaimed the concrete? Perhaps rambling brambles grew over the traintracks, shortening their route still further. Creating wonder for the next generation who followed in our games.