Slightly Bemused writes:
There is something rather forlorn about seeing a child’s toy abandoned on the green. There is a story behind it, but you can only guess what it might be. It becomes even more forlorn when there is another, at the other end of the driveway. Like an image from an apocalyptic film you kind of expect sounds of wind howling and old newspapers blowing across the grass.
Of course, this was not an apocalypse, and while rain was due we do have two scooters. One has been around for about a week, and the other, while there for a shorter period, has gradually worked its way closer to the heart of the estate.
The image in my head is of two little girls (both are pink, so forgive the gender assumption if wrong) who were out playing on one of the wonderful hot days, and in came the ice cream man. He wanders through the estate on any day where the sun looks like it might make an appearance, and the tinkling tune of his clarion call may just have enticed little ones to drop their scooters and run in the direction of this delight. Like the Pied Piper of the 99. With sprinkles.
I have seen parents run for cover when this van arrives, looking to avoid the need to dig out cash that may not be available. With everything touch or tap these days, who has coins to fill the taste buds of young ones on a hot day?
But why did they not return for their conveyances? I like to think that after the ice cream, having spoiled their dinners, they ended up in bed. Then they awoke the next day to the news that the long awaited holiday to the coast had arrived. Bags were packed, swimsuits dug out, and off they went in search of a sandy beach in Galway, or Cork, or Kerry. Or maybe a forest park with boats in Roscommon. Who knows?
I do know from my own childhood in a caravan around Ireland that there are many wonderful places to bring children with energy to spend and a delight to run about freely. Back then, sun screen was a rarity, but today with a good factor, a child can be left to their own devices in so many places of wonder. So wonderful that a lonely scooter is the last thing on their minds.
As an adult, I learned that one of the reasons that my Dad did this was that with such a gaggle of us anything else was well beyond his means. But he and my Mum made them memorable. Strangely, stopping by the side of the road with the ‘van for egg salad sandwiches was the height of a wonderful adventure. Then back in the car and on to somewhere exotic, like Cuuracloe, or Garryvoe.
One of my best memories was being taken out in what I later learned is a rib for a quick trip around the bay. Knees tucked under a weather sheet in front, we jumped over the huge waves and around back to the pier. Of course the waves were only huge because I was small, but such a thrill! I wonder if they still do that?
I also wonder where I left my bike that time, it was not on the green. But it is likely I was the one that left it in the back yard. My Dad nearly drove over it as we came in a week later while he was towing the caravan. He was not happy, and my eldest brother was dispatched to move it. Once moved, my father moved the car into a certain position, the ‘van was decoupled, and manhandled by all of us into its position until next year. Later that day I was out and about on the bike again.
So as I look out my window, sup a nice warm malted barley drink on a chillier day than of late, I look on the abandoned scooter and think of children having adventures in forests and beaches and on mountains with abandon. Before being called home, told to collect their scooters, and start preparations for reality once more.
Slighly Bemused‘s column appears here every Wednesday.
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