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Survival! I Survived!
By: James Claire
The doctor told me the other day that, if I did not lose weight, I would not survive into later years, to enjoy my retirement.

Later years! I’m lucky I survived this long, and it has nothing to do with my weight!
Born in 1969, I am a child of free-loving radicals; a mother, for example, who enjoyed spirited beverages and smoked the occasional cigarette. I never asked if she gave up for the important nine months of my production, but I highly doubt it. Nothing was dangerous back then.

As an infant I enjoyed toys, a cot and a nursery brightly decorated in lead-based paints with walls made of asbestos. I was put down to sleep and no one watched over me; we certainly did not have baby monitors.

My father’s car was modern for its day; I can tell you, though, it was in the early 70s, before airbags and child car seats and drink driving was not illegal. I was lucky to survive that at all!
Around the house there were no childproof locks. Medicine bottles where toys; so, too, were old film cases. We played with chemistry sets that actually worked, yet I still survived.

I climbed trees around our house and those of our neighbours and when I got stuck on the roof of the garage, or fell and hurt my leg, wrist and head, did I sue or blame someone else or head for litigation? Actually, I survived everything and took the blame for my own mistakes.

At school we shared lunches, drank from taps and cans with our friends and kissed the girls, and made a few cry. Yet none of us came down with anything worse than a crush.

There were home-made go-karts without any brakes. Our bikes had them, yet we still occasionally fell off or went over the handlebars when they were applied too firmly. We played cricket and football in the middle of the street with garbage bins as wickets and goals. Yet we never got hit by cars. We survived.

We left home by ourselves to walk to school in a world before neighbourhood watch programmes or community policing. Father had a car but he worked in an opposite direction; yet we never went off with strangers, never got abducted and always got to our destination.
We played at school and we played until it was dark. Even then it took a good yelling from mum to come inside. We ate dinner, did homework and then fell into bed.

There was no sitting in front of computers playing games; such activities weren’t yet in fashion and a cell phone was a distant dream. A friend was a friend and we visited their home. We talked and played in real time, people across the ocean remained a mystery and future travel was just that — something for when we were older.

We probably overate, but it was exercise, walking and playing that kept us fit. Only one girl in our primary school was termed large, and she really did have a medical condition.

We ate worms, got into fights, chased dogs and played with tools and hammers, and garden things. Yet, in all the years I heard my mother yelling, “You’ll poke an eye out with that,” I never did.

My mother, somehow, simultaneously worked two jobs; my father, too. My sister and I spent our days at school and it was not until dinner that we all came together again around the table as a family. We did not text or call each other ten times a day; at home there was no phone, so it would never have mattered.

We lived a simpler life, a more dangerous life without modern-day health and safety regulations, and without people who feel it is their prerogative to safeguard others. Yet, somehow, we survived.

All those who must have been born in or around the 50s and 60s, my generation, are now the leaders of modern industry and technology. They are the innovators who created amazing new toys and mod-cons from visions we had in our heads; from playing cowboys and Indians, shooting toy guns, from reading books not ruined by political correctness and by watching very-low-budget sci-fi films without all the special effects.

We took those dreams and fantasies, and all that freedom, and created a modern world of wonder for ourselves.

It makes you think, though, what is this generation going to create, considering their lack of wanderlust, in their safety-cushioned over-protected existence? According to my doctor, anyway, I won’t survive to find out!

I’m off to run around the house with scissors; I’ve survived everything else!