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The good old days

May 6, 2009

BBC2 has a very interesting programme on snow this evening, some fascinating stuff on the only major casualties from an avalanche in Britain, the year it snowed in July during a cricket match with the West Indies, and of course the 1963 winter. Now many readers may not remember that, either due to age or physical location, but it was the worst winter in living memory in Wales. NOw I was still in primary school at the time, coming up to my tenth birthday. In those days we walked to and from school and it was the best part of two miles and including running the bully gauntlet of Gas Lane where at all costs you wanted to avoid the Norths (one of the difficult families shall we say). The trouble was that there we swings and roundabouts there to which were a temptation, but also a magnet.

However the real cruelty in that winter was the clothes we wore. School uniform was very strict: shoes, grey socks to below the knee, grey short and tie, jacket and cap (to be worn at all times out of school on pain of detention or the cane). Caning was public those days as well, the whole school assembled to witness. Back to the uniform though, until the age of 11 you had to wear shorts. Moving up at the age of eleven to the Grammar School the most wonderful thing was long trousers. Now wearing shorts in the worst winter in living memory is not fun, especially with an early morning and early evening walk (before the sun rose and after it set). Add to that a house with a fire in one room only, where the water glass froze overnight and you can see why I think my own children have been mollycoddled! Of course we also set out well fueled: porridge with full fat milk and brown sugar followed by bacon and eggs with fresh baked bread.

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