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# stasya ear ly
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How It Was
Every school holiday we worked on the farms. Often it was pea picking but we also harvested runner beans, potatoes, black currents and strawberries — each in their season. Sometimes we travelled quite a distance to work. The incredible thing, looking back on it, was that our parents never seemed to worry about us. Sure enough there were occasional tales of terrible accidents or of children being attacked or kidnapped — but no one thought about such things then.
We would disappear early, on our bikes, and not return until dark. Just the thought of letting my own kids do the same today gives me kittens. But back then, that’s how it was. All the harvesting was paid for by the bag or the box. The faster you worked, the more you earned. In one 5 week season I earned about £400. That was seriously good money in the 1970s — probably the same as my Dad earned. And we knew how to spend. We were always treating ourselves to something. But usually the aim was to pay for a holiday before school started again. Of course we often had family holidays when we were younger. But we kids also took our own holidays. Usually it was camping but my focus was beach holidays. Wales was my favourite locations. Again I still can’t imagine how our parents were brave enough to let us go. I can only assume they were not worried: That and the fact that as children they had their own adventures. Both my parents were small children during the war and were evacuated from London to be safe from Hitler’s bombs. They went in the clothes they were wearing plus a small suitcase — sent to unknown (in advance) villages and to the care of strangers. My teenage beach holidays probably seemed a stroll in the park to them and they took our safety for granted.
Nowadays there seems to be a climate of fear around my generation, concerning the safety of our children. Has the world really changed so much? May be it’s just that the media makes us think more about the horrible things that do happen?
Mind you — there was one close shave when I was a kid. It was on one of our Welsh camping holidays. We would have been 15 at the time. I fell asleep on a floating lilo and got swept out to sea. I was only asleep for second and at first was not worried. I began to swim steadily pushing the lilo back to the beach — but after 10 minutes, to my horror, I was no closer to shore. In a panic I jettisoned the lilo so I could swim properly and then swam with all my strength. After another 10 minutes still I made no progress. Then completely irrationally I started worrying about sharks. I knew that there are no dangerous sharks there but just the thought paralyzed me. I told myself not to panic. The sea was really calm and I knew that the tide had to change at some point. I also knew my friends on the beach would call the coastguard. The shore seemed miles away, exhaustion was kicking in and I realized also that I was cold. Shark fins began to circle in my imagination. I was in despair. You hear about accidents and drowning at sea but never imagine that it’s going to be you.
1. Where did you work every school holiday?
2. What kind of work did you do?
3. What was the incredible thing?
4. Did anyone think about terrible accidents or children being attacked or kidnapped?
5. The faster you worked, the more you earned, didn't you?
6. Did you know how to spend the money you earned?
7. What was the aim of earning money?
8. What did we often have when we were younger?
9. Whtr were your holidays like when you were a kid? Was it camping or beach holidays?
10. Were your parents worried when they let you go on hoiliday?
11. Why did your parents take your safety for granted?
12. Has the world really changed so much since your parents went on holiday?
13. What happened on one of your Welsh camping holidays?
14. How old were you at the time?
15. Why did you get swept out to sea?
16. Why were you horrified after steadily pushing the lilo back to the beach for 10 minutes?
17. What did you do in a panic?
18. Did you make any progerss after another 10 minutes?
19. The you started worrying about sharks. and it was quite irrational, wasn't it?
20. Did you tell yourself not to panick or continue shouting for help?
21. What did you begin to hope for?
22. Were you sure that your friends on the beach would call the coastguard?
23. How far was the distance to the shore?
24. Did shark fins begin to appear in your imagination or in reality?
25. That brought you to despair, didn't it?
26. You know about accidents and drowing at sea. Do you ever imagine that it may happen to you?
# stasya ear ly