Oral History Interviews

Playing in the country in 80s – 90s

This interview with Andrew starts off with his earliest memories of play in a village called Lytchett Matravers, where he lived in a terraced property. Andrew played with young friends, and played on climbing frames, swings in the back garden, etc. He played with paddling pool and water. Initially it was with his big sister and would generally involve the sister and a neighbour who was also female, he’d tag along with the games they played which were my mummies & daddies and hide and seek, that type of play.

He doesn’t remember watching much telly at all. Andrew does though remember a big old TV in the lounge which would take an age to warm up and it got frustrated how long it would take and also take a long time to cool down after it was switched off. He doesn’t really remember listening to the radio, though when he was older he remember struggling to tune into the football when he was in bed with an old crackly radio and trying to make sure his parents didn’t hear him. He also remembers recording Top of the Pops on the radio, which clashed with Sunday lunch and he’d have a tape recorder and press play and record to capture the songs that he liked. This causing a certain friction at the table.

Andrew remembers a car that his dad did up for him that he got from the rubbish dump. He remembers playing in for hours. It was a big car you could sit in, one that had metal pedals in the inside.

We move onto when Andrews bit older and didn’t have to play with his sister. Andrew moved house then when he was 6 to a bungalow in the same village. He played extensively with the kids in this cul-de-sac. One game he remembers was called drains; this involved a football and two drains, the objective was to run the ball over the other drain and that was a goal. Generally this is played with just two people and the goal is to roll the ball over the other person drain.

Andrew used to go cycling a lot, and recycled to school a lot. Which was about 3 miles away. He feels that everybody cycled to work or to school. If you were driven to school you were looked down on. An extension to your school day was to cycle back the 3 miles to home and stop off and play in the woods.

Andrew enjoyed going coarse fishing and would cycle off and go fishing with the rod strapped to the bike.

Andrew had to come home at a set time. Though he had more freedom in this sister, he doesn’t know if that’s to do with him being a man and his sister a female, or whether it was to do with the fact that she was the firstborn.

Andrew joined the Cubs, he thinks he had the record for just having one badge, which was a cycling proficiency badge. He went weekly, he went scouts briefly, but decided he didn’t like that and didn’t stay for very for a long. He also tried Sea Scouts at Poole Harbour but didn’t stick this either. This was down to personal choice.

Andrew talks about his dad’s fishing boat. They’d occasional sleep on the boat overnight, it was a very small boat just enough room for two people to sleep. He look forward to these nights away from home and sleeping on the boat. Whole family also used to use the boat to go off to the beach as the roads be busy and the car parks full, they’d all go in the boat and moor the boat near to the beach. They’d take a picnic onto the beach and spend the day there.

Andrew enjoyed football, he represented the school and the cubs and joined Upton youth club, where Andrew would cycle there and back after a game.

Andrew talks about playing at break time at school. He played football and Bulldog. The basic rules of Bulldog are there is two semicircles and the objective of the game is to run to the opposing teams semicircle with out somebody capturing you. If you got caught, they’d lift you up and say Bulldog. There was a similar game called tag as well, in which you just had to be touched (tagged).

Andrew lived in a residential street where there are very few cars so he was always out playing on the street, or in the fields around his house, (doing what boys do). He’d explain roughly to his parents where he was going, but they (he and his friends) would roam a good couple of miles. He remembers a place they called the Orchard, of which the main appeal was the apples that grew here. They’d play a number of games with apples, like putting the apples on sticks and firing them at each other. There might have been a few complaints from time to time but most people seem to have let them be. Andrew and his friend knew the boundaries and really didn’t cause too much trouble.

Andrew grew up just when computers were starting to enter the home and from 16 the importance of computers start to filter through from school. So mum and dad saved hard to get him a computer which was the BBC model B computer which was used at school. He probably just played games on the computer rather than program it. His parents then exchange that computer for a better one to play games on. Andrew would go round to friends and play on their computers but if the weather was nice they’d much more likely to go out and play.

Andrew goes onto talk about how they arrange to meet as teenagers. This was duly arranged in the school day. They didn’t have a telephone at home, though eventually they did get telephone but they won’t really encouraged to use it to arrange social events, it was more for emergency type events or to talk to friends and family they wouldn’t see on a daily or weekly basis. He thinks he was about 10 when they got the telephone, so this would make it 1980. Even when they got a telephone you could never telephone for a considerable amount of time, as it was expensive to use.

We move on to Andrews activities as an adult. His relaxation nowadays isn’t really sitting down in front of TV or going on the computer and playing computer games. Andrew still likes cycling his mountain bike and also likes surfing, he gets a buzz from doing this. He also likes gig rowing, which is six people in a boat. These activities keep him reasonably fit, he likes water activities like swimming and get a lot of joy from playing with his family.

Fitting in his leisure activities with his work and his family is the hardest balancing act.

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