Sunday, 5 February 2012

Bike For Sale, Like New

You know the good old days. Yes the ones we keep convincing ourselves of. A clearer marker of impending or recently arrived middle age you could not get.
I think it’s because there is such a stark change from then and now, which you never really noticed happening. It all moved gradually. Small, tiny, incremental changes that crept up on you when you weren’t paying attention, became the norm and will most likely leave you behind blissfully unaware as they pass you by and the younger generation embrace the new.
Life was simpler and operated on much clearer distinctions or it certainly seemed that way when we were young. You knew the boundaries, there were clear realities of existence and if you came from a working class family, there definitely wasn’t much money around. However, our responsibilities and roles have changed over time too, so it is an ever-moving perspective.
When you compare like for like though, and I’m talking about the ten year old of today and the one who was there in the early eighties, the two are oceans apart.
I have recently had to get rid of two bikes that our kids have outgrown. They have had them for probably two or three years and there is not a scratch on them. The tyres still have the sticky out wobbly bits round the edges.
There lies a clear example of the Wii / Computer / X-Box generation who just don’t go out to play anymore. Also, probably a clearer example of suspicious parents, who wrap their children up in cotton wool to protect them from the media hyped dangers of society, from child kidnappers to drug peddlers who are lurking on every corner (we convince ourselves).
Was my own childhood of playing outside endlessly, and taking my bike everywhere really more dangerous than today? I used that bike so much we had to replace the tyres on it, has anybody actually had to buy a new tyre for their kids bike recently ?
Of course, it’s our own fault for not encouraging more active play. I have always made a point of trying to get them outside and make sure we get to the beach or forest walk at the weekend. But in general, you just don’t see kids playing in the street much, bar the summer holidays.
When I was maybe ten or eleven, I also remember taking the bus into town or cycling to the park a few miles away with friends. I can barely trust my daughter to go round the block on her own; she just doesn’t seem “streetwise”.
So despite all the i-pods, androids, tablets and techno savvy kids going round – there’s something missing in their development. That practical, common sense, learn the hard way ‘something’ you had and they simply have missed out on.
Granted, they have some really cool stuff that we couldn’t have dreamed of back in the times of 48Kb Spectrum Computers.
However, I think the good old days, for all of their rose tinted failings actually did serve most of us well. But then what do I know, I’m just a nostalgic old fart now. Boy, I loved that Raleigh Grifter.

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