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I had a sparkly silver bike which I was showing off on. I was riding it up and down Leveller Road and I thought I would go up to the top of the hill and ride down the pavement as fast as I could. I remember sitting on my bike at the top of the hill and thinking it would be a really good idea to try something different. So I turned the handlebars back to front – it had a front wheel that could turn 180 degrees. Off I set with the handlebars backwards as fast as I could.
Of course I fell off. Right at the bottom of our drive. Grazed knees, elbows, teeth out, cut hands, face – everything. But the best thing was that I had to go to a school BBQ that afternoon and I was dressed as a ballerina in my beautiful pink tutu. A slightly battered, bruised and bandaged up ballerina with no front teeth and a black eye.
Every child should have a camp in their garden or in their house – somewhere where the adults can’t come in without a password. A private space! Catherine and I had a camp in the back garden at Newick behind the vegetable patch…a clearing in the trees with a dirt floor. You could see into the neighbour’s garden. We probably pretended we were the Secret Seven or the Famous Five and had club meetings with our friends.
There was also a huge oak tree opposite our house that we would play hide and seek around. The smaller tree on the green was where we played “52 Bunker”. The trick was to stand right behind the person counting to 100 and then grab the tree and yell “52 bunker home!”. Stuck in the Mud was also fun – a sophisticated version of catch where you had to be freed from the mud by someone crawling through your legs.
It was quite safe playing on the green outside (I wonder if parents would still let their kids play out there?). We lived in a cul de sac and all the kids on the street played out front together. I’m sure one mother or another was watching at any one time, but I remember being very free.
We were allowed to walk up to the rec where there was a playground. We pushed our bikes up there and played on the huge tractor tyre swing. I could curl up inside the tyre while everyone else sat on top. Catherine put her leg down inside the tyre to stop it swinging and it smacked against her knee. She must have broken something but I don’t remember. I think I remember having to push two bikes home. Someone must have come to get Catherine.
I seem to remember horrible things that happened to my sister! I don’t seem to remember what happened next though – maybe my child brain was trying to protect me from the horror? I’m sure people around me were trying to protect me. I’m not sure that Catherine even remembers the details – I shall have to ask her!