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April 17, 2015 / angelavbolton

Holding on to Innocence

scan-150408-0042 A sunny day, sitting on the hot stones of the wall, in my best dress… that’s all I remember of that photograph.

Childhood might as well be another country: men wore hats in those days, and whistled; milk was delivered to the door (by a whistling milkman), as were bread and vegetables – supermarkets didn’t exist. Children amused themselves; traffic hadn’t been invented, and nobody cared what brand anyone wore. The only Irish television station started broadcasting at 6pm and stopped at 10pm (I think?) so we weren’t watching telly during the day: we were climbing trees, making swings, building camps, and jumping from hay bales. You’d only go home when you got hungry.

We were raised by everyone: parents, teachers, neighbours, and strangers. For example: even the tiniest old lady wouldn’t think twice about giving out to a sprog for messing, and teachers had the authority to slap. Adults didn’t worry about disciplining others’ children verbally. The slapping? Not good, but there was a respect for one’s elders: you couldn’t behave like a savage without someone clipping your ear. Being well-behaved meant showing basic courtesy: and good manners were expected rather than hoped-for.

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