“Why Don’t You? Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?” For those of you too young to remember this was a BBC children’s television series that started back in the ’70s. Quite apt when you think how much time we spend in front of our screens now!
For me growing up in the 70’s was a time of freedom, being individual, connecting within the community, being creative and using our imagination to stimulate the brain. This came easily as there was not the competition or pressure on children to perform and the expectation that they excel at absolutely everything. We were free to explore and find our own passions, so that we could be who we wanted to be without being judged.
This enabled us to be streetwise and, in many cases, taught us to be entrepreneurial, think outside the box and be independent. Don’t get me wrong, coming from a mixed-race background brought it’s prejudices and challenges, but these were all life’s lessons preparing us for what life throws at us at any age. We learnt to appreciate the basic things in life, and we had time for each other, especially the family.
Shops were closed on Sundays, so we had precious family time. It also meant going to Sunday school, which at the time I was reluctant to do, however, I now appreciate the social interaction and friendships made that were so crucial and provided a sense of belonging. Bringing the community together, neighbours being known as aunt or uncle looked out for us and we were in and out of each other’s house.
Playing cricket, football, 40/40, dare, building go karts out of scrap etc. brings back such fond memories and sharing this with the friends living in your street that also went to school locally with you, made such a difference.
This not only created friendships but also taught team building! Life is a constant lesson, and it doesn’t always come from a classroom.
Reflecting on the coal being delivered in sacks by horse and cart to my Grandmother’s home, shopping locally at the butchers, greengrocers, and small coop, collecting Greenshield stamps, the man on his bike sharpening tools, the grocer/fishmonger van and the milkman who knew everyone in the street, are just some of the things I look back on with nostalgia, but in doing so I also think about how environmentally friendly we were!
Oh, I nearly forgot the lovely, sweet shop with jars and shelves of sweets. This is where I let my secret out that this was my first experience of being an entrepreneur!
My parents were great entertainers, and we would have loads of empty glass bottles (no plastic ones in those days!) which were returnable… 5p each bottle!
So, yes you guessed right, I used to fill my Mum’s shopping trolley and sneak round to Paul’s sweet shop in Wimbledon Park which was the equivalent to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I swapped my bottles for sweets. I was in heaven! 🙂