Friday, 7 April 2017

our bums stuck to the vinyl seats that spring

With the glorious prospect of two weeks off for the Easter school holidays I am looking forward to doing not much at all so I can recuperate during what has become a recent and very inconvenient downturn in my bronchial health. 

I am hoping that an invigorating spritzer of lie-ins, fresh air, family fun, healthy food and some medicine will pep me up and clear my clogged windpipe.

Sat here now with sixteen whole Spring days beckoning before me like a freshly-painted sign for Euphoria I can't help thinking what my younger self would have had in store for me!

With a memory made of Lancashire Crumbly I have no chance of knowing what I actually did during most Easters past but I can at least hazard a guess.

Spring would have meant playing out again after the boring black and white of Winter was finally switched to blinding technicolour. Playing out would have meant many things but key notes in the giddy ensemble would have been bikes, parks, ginnels and gardens.

Riding a bike with my mates was a rite of passage for us Sixties kids as it surely is now. We rode like billy-o through our rolling infancy onto the manhood-bruising cobbles of adolescence, only stopping for breath to try out a sneaky fag and kiss the girls along the way.

The Preston of my youth had a lot of parks it seems and our local one was called Ashton. Like a watering hole in the Gobi we flocked to Ashton Park, pedaling our pushbikes as if life itself depended on getting there, our card spoke flicker bundles clicking wildly like Sekidens.

Our first bikes were trikes, tiny ones to start with but growing in size. Some adults even had big trikes back then. Our first two-wheeler had solid tyres and stabilizers. Solid tyres! No air! What was that all about! Without the natural cushion of inflation all kerbs became eye-watering pile-drivers on a par with rogue footballs and toddlers' heads. Lets face it, solid tyres were a bad idea in towns made of concrete and we all exhaled deeply as our inner-tubes finally filled with oxygen.

Inflated tyres meant one thing. A Raleigh Chopper. Now I'm not talking about Sir Walter Raleigh's hatchet here. The Raleigh Chopper was the Lamborghini of pushbikes, a sleek rocket of steel and foam-cushion vinyl adapted perfectly to hazard-loving juveniles and tender bottoms. Popular with boys, girls and pillions everywhere, the Raleigh Chopper made cycling a high-octane blast on the best-looking seat this side of Evel Knieval's. 

It was like a sofa that high-back, not to mention the neat Harley handlebars and the super-cool big head MG gear-stick. If the Fonz had worked for NASA he couldn't have improved the Chopper. Like the Johnny Seven it was simply the biz back then.

Easter sunshine would have also, in an earlier version of me, triggered a desire to take toys into our garden. With an unusual ray of lucidity I can clearly remember dressing my Action Man team in the open air on the flags of the garden path, along with my school pal Vincent. We had all the gear laid out and I can almost feel the small tug of material as I pinned the Iron Cross to the Stormtrooper's cotton tunic. The happy days of Palitoy al fresco!

A later yours-truly would have had other darker ideas, literally. Ideas about darkness and what could be done in the relatively dry dark nights of April.

Garden hopping of course! Forget the SAS or the Green Berets, garden hopping at night when we were aged 11 or 12 was without doubt the most dangerously bum-clenching black-op since the fearless agent in the Milk Tray ad leapt off a cliff because his Lady loved chocolates.

Living in suburbia meant a lot of gardens and that meant a lot of cats, dogs, milk bottles, sheds, veg patches, roses, hedges, clothes lines and barley-twist edging. It was terrifying enough for junior Tizer-junkies like us still too young to sneak onto Preston's Docks at night and climb the dizzying cranes.

I swear that garden hopping put hairs on my chest. I didn't have any to start with and when I came back I was as bushy as a Silverback, the uncommon rush of Adrenalin having no doubt irrigated my otherwise sun-shy follicles typical of the early Seventies bespectacled nerd. Yes, despite my burgeoning geekiness,  for a few brief Spring nights at least, I tasted the dry martinis of Double O Seven and felt Illya Kuryakin's turtle-neck's itch.

Aaah, the sweet rays of warmth on the pimples of youth! Those were the days, when Easter was a mini-Summer holiday flecked with chocolate eggs in cellophaned beakers, cardboard clocks and polka-dot foil littering the living room carpet.

What do you remember of the Easter holidays readers?

3 comments:

  1. Easter could be hit or miss,depending whether it is in March or April.March was a chance of a misty,gray Easter,sometimes with patches of receding snow present.April could be crisp,or sometimes rainy.One Easter in the 70's was a beautiful sunny morning that was perfect in every way,starting with an egg hunt and a basket of sweets.After church my dad trundled us into the family station wagon and drove us down to Cape May for lunch at The Lobster House, a charming restaurant with ocean views from every table.My brother pouted a bit because he hated seafood, but dad managed to get him a hamburger and all was well.My Easter Basket contained something unusual:a large rubber Housefly with big red eyes and clear plastic wings.It caused a stir when it wound up in the tithing dish at church, but has survived to this day.In fact, it is sitting on my desk as I type, missing one wing and part of a leg,but still here.Ah,memories.Wishing you health and happiness,a holiday with your family is just what the doctor ordered.Enjoy!

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  2. I remember I got the Spacex MLP instead of an egg one year!

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  3. Another beautifully penned reflective recollection, Woodsy. Really enjoyed reading this nostalgic illustration and travelling back to those fun and sun filled days which your words painted. It makes me think of battling plastic Cavalry, the warmth of the sun and smell of freshly mowed lawns which my dad was always cutting at weekends:)

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