A skip and a hop down memory lane

AS I walked into Letchworth town centre on Saturday morning, the prospect of it being a dry day was not good. The morning had started off fine but getting on for 11am it began to spit with rain and I needed to put up my umbrella. And that was a pity as it

AS I walked into Letchworth town centre on Saturday morning, the prospect of it being a dry day was not good.

The morning had started off fine but getting on for 11am it began to spit with rain and I needed to put up my umbrella.

And that was a pity as it was a big day in the garden city calendar - the 1950s and 60s Festival when the town came out to enjoy a wallow in nostalgia.

But I need not have worried. The wet visitation from above quickly passed and I was able to spend a very pleasant few hours helping to man the Comet stand which featured some news and advertising pages from our predecessor The Pictorial from 1966.


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They excited much interest from the crowds filing past. Many people stopped to point at the recruitment adverts placed by local companies at a time of full employment and exclaim "I used to work there" as their memories rolled back getting on for half a century ago.

One advert which said the company was looking for "an intelligent man" amused people. Another ad seeking girl workers offered �8 a week which was a good wage in those days.

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Some old friends I had not seen for years happened to pass by and re-acquainted themselves with me.

Other kind souls recognised me from my picture on top of this page and took the trouble to say how much they enjoyed my column every week. I thank them for that.

Two ladies of around my age who lived in the same road as my childhood home more than two score years ago appeared and asked after my sister who married and moved away a long, long time ago.

Perhaps they remember when she was a girl and could often be found skipping in the back garden.

It was a favourite pastime. But things are much different now, I learn from the results of a survey just released.

Out of thousands of parents questioned, 94 per cent of mums skipped "often" as girls, but only 24 per cent of girls today could say the same.

I scorned skipping but I was an avid conker player. Some 83 per cent of fathers played conkers "often" when they were young but that has fallen to 37 per cent of boys today.

Only one in 10 kids regularly play hopscotch compared to 45 per cent of their parents at the same age and only 19 per cent of boys climb trees compared to 44 per cent of their dads.

With nothing much to distract us apart from the radio and a basic TV service, my generation were brought up playing a range of imaginative and inventive games.

Three-quarters of parents are now concerned that overuse of "ready-made" entertainment, such as computer consoles, along with a perceived need to protect their kids from a more hostile world restricts children from developing social skills.

Fifty-nine per cent of parents now believe that the quality of childhood today is worse than their own. I find it difficult to disagree with that sentiment.

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