Now that I have eventually arrived at the year before the year I turn forty, I’ve found myself doing a bit of reflecting; as you do when you get out of a car after fourteen hours and feel seventy.
Do you know, I’ve never found myself in the situation of drowning whilst wearing pyjamas. As this is perhaps one of the greatest potential disasters of life that I have sufficiently prepared for, I feel somewhat disappointed. Were all those hours spent at Knottingly Baths creating floatation devices out of my best Superman’s wasted? Maybe I need to start putting myself into more situations where there is a higher chance of this occurring, I should perhaps also purchase a pair of pyjamas in preparation.
I started to wonder about the skills and knowledge that I acquired as a youth, mainly due to the fear instilled in me by adults, that up to this point in my life I have never had the need to utilize.
Chip-pan fires. I’ve never even used a chip-pan? – Does anyone outside of Doncaster actually own a one anymore? They’ve probably been outlawed by Brussels? However were they to make an unlikely and explosively unhealthy comeback; I still have the knowledge and skills to deal with any frying related disasters; sadly I imagine this knowledge will probably die with my generation
Stop – Drop – Roll. As far as I was made aware as a youth, finding yourself on fire was a common inconvenience for adults, and as such I understood the importance of the repeated drills we conducted of this life saving technique on the football field during one particularly hot summer. Spontaneous combustion was definitely a big fear for years, I’d seen the grainy black and white photographic remains of those who’d just found themselves burst into flames for no discernible reason, and I was prepared for the inevitable. I still am. I could Stop-Drop-Roll at the spark of a match.
And then this line of thought led me to consider the things that adults told us we should be worried about, and that I have actually not really been in the position to be that afraid of as an adult myself, yet…
Heroin – This was a big concern for a time. For all we knew, or certainly what Grange hill told us, heroin just happened, you woke up one morning and found yourself heroined, and that was it you had to go around stealing car radios looking a bit grey and then you died.
Aids. – That was a scary thing as well, all icebergs and giant gravestones, the confusing images of that advert did nothing to explain the circumstances around this killer, nor did putting condoms on bananas. Freddie Mercury announced he’d got Aids, and then died the next day. Shit that thing works fast, we looked around our classroom wondering who would be next.
Shark attacks, killer bees from Africa, “Dark open water”, gas leaks and cigars, Alien invasion, electrocution from switching on the lights with damp hands, swallowing chewing gum,the Russians, dirty old men offering you sweets, running with scissors, nuclear holocaust, lead poisoning from chewing the ends of pencils, Crime Watch, getting trapped in abandoned fridges, crossing the road with your parka snorkel fully zipped up, parachutes failing to open.The IRA.
All things that terrified our young minds.
I remember one morning all the roads around Pontefract were closed by policemen with guns on every corner; they’d been tipped off that the IRA were planning to bomb the town! It eventually turned out that an Irishman had been spotted buying a sausage roll in Thurstons but hey you can’t be too careful. We were petrified…what if they close Thurstons?
But Somewhere along the way when the adults where getting all carried away with all these warnings; showing horror cine films, in stuffy gymnasiums, like the one where Robbie gets his legs removed by a train, (his football boots swinging on the back of his bedroom door as his parents’ sick reminder of his fate) I guess they forgot to warn us about the really dangerous things in life. The stuff that keeps you awake at night, or drags you from your dreams into a cold sweat, you know the everyday shit that really scares us…
I guess we had to work out all that for ourselves.
“Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well”