It was the ultimate in adventure playgrounds. Immense mounds of various sands, surrounded by a vast collection of scrapped iron and steel collected from all over the City. Huge static water tanks provided hazardous swimming pools; lengths of narrow gauge railway line and mineral trucks allowed construction of rides to thrill the most jaundiced youngster. The adjacent factory contained two large blast furnaces; these worked continuously, launching fountains of sparks and fury into the night. Every parent's nightmare.
It was also the scene for the Great Treasure Hunt. It began with quite a small incident. I buried my sister's new shoes. Very successfully. I was aided and abetted by a cousin, who later decided that his tea would be ready, and slipped away into the descending gloom. I was not ready for tea, and suggested that my tearful sister return to base, report the inexplicable disappearance, and my unceasing efforts to locate the shoes that she had lost.
My parents were the first adults to commence the task of moving the mounds of sand. Mother holding the torch, trying to pacify the digger, and attempting to persuade me to emerge from among the piles of condemned machinery. They were joined by the night watchman, then by some of the factory workmen [who seemed a very jolly group], and eventually by most of the neighbouring households.
The whole torch-lit scene developed into a very festive occasion, only my parents failing to enter into the spirit of things. It was a warm evening, and soon we were joined by patrons leaving the nearby Lyric cinema.
It was perhaps the final flowering of the community spirit engendered by recent hostilities, but now the situation showed signs of deteriorating. Some sections of sand had been moved several times, and not everyone was even aware what they were looking for. When the newest arrivals clearly proved that the local public house was closing its doors I was led away [by the ear].
A memory that really should have been long forgotten, except that almost every family gathering at some point is advised 'watch your shoes, here he comes'. A supermarket has replaced the blast furnaces, and the scrapyard is now a playing field, on which Irishmen attack each other with curved sticks.
No, we didn't.