As mentioned previously, we had a close knit community when it came to my neighbourhood. There were of course a few miserable bastards that wanted to keep themselves to themselves, but on the whole everyone knew everyone else. This, on the whole, was a good thing for us kids.
Behind my house was the second terrace of houses. This meant that we could play out from a very young age, and be watched over from either side by the parents. This also meant that we had 25 houses with which there were kids to stay in, or us to get into mischief in or around, or both.
In my road we weren't as highly populated, being only 11 houses. Next door we had potty mouthed Jonathan and Jessica, a couple of kids about 6 & 8 years younger then me. Next door to them was Cynthia, and next door to her was Karen and Mark. They were a lot older then us, and both went away to University when I was fairly young. Also in the street we had to persistently nocturnal Darrin (that's not a spelling mistake), and also my best mate Johnathon. We had had Guy, now on my friends list on facebook, and next door to him we also had Danny, better known as "Little" Danny for reasons that would become apparent.
In the street behind we had another Danny, only this time it was "Black" Danny. This wasn't a racial slur, but a statement of fact. People that still know him today, and never lived in the area, still refer to him as Black Danny. Danny was best friends with Steven, who lived up the other end of his road. Steven had his sister Sarah, unfortunate recipient of a lot of my teenage hormones. We'd also had a good friend called Simon, who was in a boarding school so I only saw him at weekends. And we'd also got the two brothers, one of which is the aforementioned Hollywood actor. Whilst they were always around, they were always the anti-play of the neighbourhood. Any trouble could normally be attributed to them somewhere down the line.
The age range of the kids was a fair spread, covering about 12 years in total, with us being near the top of the tree. We also had a fair split of boys and girls, meaning that again the games were harmless enough for girls to play, but violent enough for the boys to play. Volleyball (with a football) was popular, as was badminton. Almost all the kids had bikes, skateboards, roller skates and various other wheeled devices, all of which were tested severely on the 1:8 hill. In fact, a skateboard with little Jonathan's sledge on top became a most cool way to descend the hill for many many weeks. When I first got drunk, the whole neighbourhood was out seeing me make a complete tit of myself by me laughing like a loon.
The thing was, the local areas out of bounds had all sorts of sheep tracks and short cuts. On a warm day, the streets would echo with the laughter and shouting of all the kids. We didn't play indoors unless we had to. Even me, self confessed computer addict at a time when home computers were the must have, could be found playing out more then I would play in. Return to the same area, just like every other residential street with kids living on it now, and you'll find no one playing out. Maybe the occasional hoodie on the corner, drinking white cider and graffiti-ing the road sign (*cough* BLS), but that'll be the only sign that any kids live there. They're all inside, playing the latest PS3 classic "Dodgy Expense claims 4 'MP Edition.'" Where did we go wrong?
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