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(originally published in 2014 to Bubblews writing site, now gone)

In our Sunday Mail newspaper here in Brisbane, Australia, there was an article on today’s cotton wool kids and all the safety rules and regulations and so on. I wrote a letter to the editor for possible publication next week (it got published), below:

I refer to the article on today’s cotton wool kids (SM, Feb 2). In the early 1960s in Melbourne, the 200 or so grade 3-6 boys at my school spent morning play, most of lunch break and afternoon play on a rough, uneven field of dirt and clumps of grass up to a foot long, about the size of a soccer field. There was footy (kick to kick for each grade), a cricket “pitch” in each corner, marbles, chasey, brandy, British bulldog, and general running around.

None of these were organised, other than by the kids. No teacher was ever on duty there. The area couldn’t be seen from any classroom or staff room. Very occasionally, a teacher would join in kick to kick. I can’t recall any serious dust-ups, abuse or injuries, although there were a few bloody scratches and bruises, and plenty of dirty knees, elbows and hands.

And of course nearly everyone walked or rode their bike to and from school. From my second day onwards as a five-year-old, I walked to school, until age 10 when I rode my bike.