August 1970, summer holiday in Cornwall, halcyon days in a caravan on Perranporth beach, endless days of sun and a society that cared not for any sort of health and/or safety procedures, whatsoever.
The days when smokers could smoke anywhere, because everyone smoked.
The days when no-one wore seatbelts in cars, because there were no seat belts in cars.
The days when parents went to work and locked their kids out of the house, because kids just played out, thats all.
August 1970, halcyon days.
Nowhere is this exemplified more than during the family holidays, specifically the holidays to Cornwall and in particular the daily lunchtime visit to the pub by our parents.
Those were the days of summers past, the days when the sun shone all day and us young kids ran around the beach with a distinct lack of sun block or indeed any sort of protection from the sun at all, in and out of the sea that may or may not have had the obligatory student lifeguard snoozing on duty, the days when we played with inflatable li-lo’s or one year a small inflatable dingy, sailing the Atlantic rollers right around the headland with no heed to the tide.
While our parents had a skinful and a nice ploughmans lunch in a nearby pub.
Halcyon days of carefree parenting and “learning by mistake” rather than “learn by government decree”.
For instance on the Perranporth holiday we’d arrive on the beach at around 9am, the sun already causing yesterdays burns to itch on the skin and somewhere on that huge 2 mile long beach that is backed by towering sand dunes, we’d find a hole in a dune for our party of eight and stake our claim.
The dunes were interspersed with footpaths of beaten down spiky grass that could slash bare feet like razors and pocked by large and small craters of sand, some of which could be a dozen or so feet deep, “right sun traps” as my dad would declare, he of the skin of brown leather that simply refused to be burned at all, even by blow torch, our dad would pick the most suitable sand dune for our daily camp on the beach and after a half hour of trudging up and down hills of sand we’d finally, exhausted, dump our assorted bundles of clothing, inflatable rafts and bags of stuff-that-mothers-bring and flop to the sand to burn once more.
By noon our dad and Ralph would be “gagging for a pint kid” and they’d hover around the edge of the dune gazing into the distance where the pub would be opening up for the day, its fresh delivery of cheese, pickle and bread rolls ensuring that another couple of thousand “ploughmans lunch” dinners would sate the appetite of the hordes of parents who abandoned their kinder in the dunes every lunchtime.
And so our parents left us, us and a thousand other kids, each in their personal dune, each waiting for their parents return in a couple of hours with food and drink consisting of a small bottle of Coke and a Mars bar.
We lived on small bottles of Coke and Mars bars during those long summer holidays and we sat and burned in sand dunes all through the mid-day heat until the pub closed at 2pm and a couple of thousand drunken parents tried to find their sand dune and their offspring once more – by the time they did your Coke would be warm and your Mars bar melted and your parents would often find you by the simple method of drunken falling into enough sand holes to eventually, and accidentally find yours.
Halcyon days of parental irresponsibility, because everyone did it, no kids were harmed during the making of this story.