- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Gordon Hudson
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- 26 June 2005
Pyrotechnic Pavements, and Tight Trousers.
The other day I felt like doing an impression of Victor Meldrew. I had been talking to a lady saying that the nights now with all the light pollution were not very good for seeing the Milky Way. “What’s the Milky Way”? she inquired. When I explained it to her, my thought returned to the nights of the Blackout during WW2.
I used to ride my bicycle into Ulverston and leave it at the side of the Devonshire Arms Pub. In those days you could leave a bicycle anywhere and it would be unlikely that it would be stolen, I would go to the pictures or meet my friend to play around the alleys and ginnels of Soutergate. Leather boots with studs were the in thing for kids in those days. To be really hip they had to be the conical studs set in rows, not the flat ones dotted all over the place, and you had to have heel plates, “cokers”, toe plates and leather laces. As my friend was a son of a Cobbler there was no shortage of these.If you were a budding teenager, tig, and catch and kiss were the games played in the alleyways with the girls. The reward for a catch was a quickly snatched kiss and a mysterious arousal. A new strange feeling that drove you to greater effort and hope of more successes. Sex and where babies came from were often a mystery. To some even the gooseberry bush was a distinct possibility.When I was discussing this topic with a friend, he told me of his experience when his mother had a miscarriage. His mother had told him that there would be no baby brother or sister for him, he replied,“ did you get your money back?” In those days the innocence of youth was a beautiful time of learning. Not like the undisguised biology lessons at the age of eight that destroys the childhood innocence of a host of children today. Instead a slow awakening of feelings still unexplained but when understood, a need for care. The best contraceptive being the fear of illegitimacy, and the disgrace of letting down your parents.
Because of the Blackout and the lack of car and streetlights the nights were very dark,even torch batteries were hard to find,and could only be bought reconditioned from Spivs on the pavements outside Woolworth’s. We used to make great sparks off the pavements with our boots which was endless fun. If you looked towards the sky on a frosty night, the Milky Way would stand out so clearly, and you could always see the shooting stars as they arced across the sky. The constellations stood out so brilliantly that you felt that you could touch them. You hardly ever needed a compass as you could always see where the pole star was situated.
How I wish that people could enjoy the delights of a clear star lit night sky as we knew it, and by the way, Doctor Martin's boots are like damp squibs.
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