Wednesday, 29 October 2014

the goodies and the baddies

When my granddaughter was younger, pre-school, I used to read her stories from books and she would ask "who are the goodies and who are the baddies?" at the beginning of the story.  I understood this because I used to be the same as a child.  And to some extent it's still the same.  

Although the question might be more framed like "who is with me and who is against me" or "who's a supporter and who isn't" or "who's on the same page and who's on a different page".  

I remember aged about 9 or 10 getting a cowgirl outfit for Christmas with a holster and guns, might have been a double holster.  But it was a flared skirt, velour material, didn't much like the feel of it, with a waistcoat, a sheriff's badge, cowboy hat and frills around the edges of the outfit.  Because I was a girl.

the Lone Ranger and Tonto
We played at "cowboys and indians", it was the late 1950's, early 1960's, the Lone Ranger and Tonto a favourite TV programme, and we took turns at being the goodies and the baddies.  The main thing was to have a shootout and for some of us to play dead, to win or lose.  

At other times we played "kick the can" or "beddies" (hopscotch), climbed the pear trees, acted out stories with dressing dolls, hung upside down on the swings and did leapfrogs over whatever came in our way.  Rollerskating through Perth railway station to Craigie, up and down the ramps over the tracks, putting pennies in the machine that stamped out letters on metal strips.  

For some reason I remember liking to be upside down as a child, doing handstands against the wall in the school girls' playground, along with others.  We'd tuck our skirts in to our pants and compete with each other.  Playing doublers, throwing balls against the wall, was another favourite playtime activity, singing rhymes as we did so.

I look back happily at a time when as children, boys and girls, we could roam about the streets and get up to mischief safely, the worst of it being knocking on doors and running away.  Getting caught didn't put us off, it just meant we were more careful the next time around.  Same with getting the belt in primary 3 from a spinster teacher at Caledonian Road school.  

At the secondary school, Perth Academy, we got sent out of the room if misbehaving, and I can remember standing in the corridor on at least one occasion.  But in the maths class in first year the teacher put up with our fun and games, rolling aniseed balls up the passageways.  She took the hockey team (nickname Bandy Nicol) and she could fair run up the wing.  We liked her.

As an older teenager it was more embarassing to be banished outside the classroom on your own so a change of tactic was required and more collective challenges were mounted against any boring teachers. The point being that if they couldn't do the job right then they deserved to be poked fun at.  We had to sit there and take it, so why shouldn't they?

Nothing much has changed.  I will still challenge boring teachers and incompetent leadership.  Bullying won't make me back down.  In fact it makes me more determined to resist.  I don't appreciate people in positions of authority telling me to shut up if I have a point to make, a story to tell.  Especially if it's about abuse or injustice.  There's no way I'm keeping quiet about that sort of thing.  That's for sure.


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