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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on Walking was the Big Activity


Walking was the big activity. Walking to school, walking to the shops, walking to church. The war was ended, and family routine included a Sunday afternoon walk to the bluebell woods. I'm touched now to remember that my parents walked behind us, hand in hand; we two being instructed to walk ahead. ('And don't go out of sight') My younger sister is quite happy with this; she has Virginia, an invisible friend, for company. This involves a running commentary on current features in her life and its many injustices. Chief among these are her brother, and the nightly experience of standing on a chair for submission to ringlets.

I myself am wearing the latest gear of dubious street credibility. Brown plastic button sandals, offset with knee length grey woollen socks. Elastic garters leave an engraved indentation around the leg. The critical fashion statement is light brown dungarees, the shoulder straps tastefully exposing a very fancy short-sleeved white shirt. Any suggestion that this had previously been a girl's blouse would be strenuously denied. Hair was worn short. Very short. Trimmed weekly with large pinking scissors. I'm not happy - nowhere does it say that William and the Bandits were accompanied by parents.

There was an unwritten convention of behaviour when walking in public. No one ate in the street; this implied that one had no home. An ice cream was an honourable and rare exception. One did not walk with hands in pockets - this offence was punished by the pockets being sown closed. Scuffing the toecaps of footwear was a capital offence.

Not acceptable behaviour now, but on return our arms would be filled with bluebells, their long cool stems later being fitted into empty jam jars, lighting the kitchen with colour for a few hours. Those narrow tracks we walked along are now busy highways, and the bluebell woods lie beneath piers of the M6 motorway. Progress.

Written by Smokey