The Lost Boys
One of the reasons I moved to Bensham in Gateshead was that it was a bit old-fashioned, and reminded me growing up in 1970s mid-Wales.
I didn't want to live in soul-less suburbia (Low Fell or Gosforth) nor the chattering class neighbourhood (Jesmond or Heaton). The local atmosphere of the last two also distorted somewhat by an over-concentration of students. But in Bensham people actually know each other, and chat on the street or gossip about local doctors (as a gaggle of old ladies were doing earlier this week at the bus stop). You get to know and chat with your local shop-keepers, as I did this morning with my local green-grocer and my local butcher.
I've launched into this paean of praise because the weather is improving, and it's the time of year when the kids of Bensham come out to play on the street. When I first came to look round here it was this that made Bensham feel different, more like where I grew up in Rhayader, and it struck me that I never saw kids out playing on the street in London or in the year I spent in Heaton.
So this morning I was set upon by two local boys - probably about 5 and 7 years old - hiding (badly) round the corner, lying in wait, and as I came up the bank they lept out and started shoooting with their plastic machine guns. And what did I do - I pretended I had a pump-action shot-gun and pretended to shot them in the face (with sound effects). More than once.
What are we teaching our children?!?