Fri, Mar 15th - 2:57PM
You are either out or you are in
I was in a supermarket in London last month.
I watched three young children, around five or six
years old, sliding up and down the store squealing and pulling stuff off the
shelves. They were like chattering, screaming meerkats on a hunt through the
I looked for the parents and spotted three women
chatting to two men. Every now and then, the kids would huddle round them and
then bound off screaming again. The parents were pushing those extremely
expensive three wheeled prams and feeding organic seaweed sheets to a baby who
was spitting it all back out. One child had one of those wooden bikes with no
pedals, let's be honest pedalling is SOoooo last year.
That wee munchkin was crashing into giant displays
of organic cereal. One child ran up and kicked it's mum right on the shin, she
merely rubbed her leg and limped off.
It made me recall childhood shopping trips with my
mammy in Shettleston. She would frequent the King-Co shop, the nearest thing we
got to a supermarket in Glasgow’s East End. It contained about seven aisles of
food, a few shelves containing bleach, carbolic soap and some household goods,
with maybe four till points. There was a cold meat counter and usually two
women in men's socks wearing slippers, pushing a steamie pram full of washing
tied in a tight bundle.
Before we entered the glass doors, my mammy would
grab me by the neck of my damp duffel coat and read me the riot act: “If you
touch anything, I will stamp on your neck”
I would walk the cool aisles of that store, scared
to even look at stuff. If my mammy caught me making eye contact with the
ice-cream freezer, she would hiss: “Don’t even think about it!” The rest of the
shopping trip would be spent with me staring at the ground.
Then we would waddle down the road, struggling with
our shopping, a string vegetable bag full of papery onions scratching my legs
and plastic bags full of cans cracking my knees. Once we got home, she would
take the bags off me.
“Go out and play!” she would yell. “Take your skate
Rain or shine, we all went out to play, even if it
was with just one broken roller-skate tied to the ankle with a discarded brown
nylon our mammy could no longer wear. That was how I spent my long summer
holidays. You weren't allowed back in for ages or your mammy would shout
"you are either out or you are in bastard face" It was illegal back
in the 60s to open and shut a door too many times (obviously a joke).
I know I must be getting older, now that I start to
tut at other mothers’ parenting skills.
Today’s kids even answer their mammy back! I don’t
know anyone who was born in the 1960s who would have dared to mouth off at
their mammy. We didn't come from mothers who tolerated a kick to their shins. I
would still be in a coma ward to this day if I had.
I know better than most people that the old days
weren’t as good as we think. I know there was a lot of poverty, abuse, robbery
and murder, but I still believe that kids didn’t dare disrespect their parents
the way they do in today’s society.
Then again, in our day we didn’t have shedloads of
TV shows that explained how to make your child behave. We had The Golden Shot
and The Avengers: two things my mammy was already good at. She could fire a
sling-back shoe like a warrior and – trust me – she could avenge like no one I
Ah …the good old days.
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