The central heating has broken down. 

Covid-ridden British Gas has let us down. 

The unfamiliar temperature in the house

recalls my boyhood winter of 1963.


Ice inside windows, no radiators then. 

Some football teams didn't play

for many weeks. I was just a kid,

had never heard of Sylvia Plath.


The snow and ice remained, day after day, 

eventually shifted by workmen and dumped,

making mountains in a car park, where we

gathered after school to rampage among


the ranges, hurling icy projectiles. We divided

into two sides, one far more numerous

than the other. I found myself among 

the gallant, outnumbered, conquered,


and felt a certain pride, certain somehow

that we held the moral upper hand.

Don't ask me why. I still have that

feeling today, in this new ice age. 





◄ There's a dinosaur in the bath

'Go, go, go'! ►


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Stephen Gospage

Sat 8th Jan 2022 17:37

Glad to hear that, Greg. Butskellism had its advantages, in that it made room for lots of 'eccentrics' from the extremes (Sir Gerald Nabarro, Michael Foot) but kept them safely away from power. Until things changed, of course....

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Greg Freeman

Fri 7th Jan 2022 16:32

The heating's come back. I was almost beginning to feel nostalgic for the big chill, or for being aged ten again, at any rate. As long as I didn't have to take the eleven-plus again ...

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 7th Jan 2022 15:46

In 1963 i was about to join the Met. Police, patrolling London's docklands, but my family were living in rural Wiltshire and the
highways and byways were filled with snow, preventing folk
getting around when they weren't home scraping the ice from
the inside of their bathroom windows and gratefully lighting
living room fires with rolled "circles" of newspaper before
making breakfast! A far cry from the winter noted by Samuel
Pepys in early1661 - no cold at all...the flyes(sic) flying up and down, the rose bushes full of leaves and the ways all dusty.
Time tells us that Mother Nature is nothing less than unpredictable..

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Greg Freeman

Fri 7th Jan 2022 09:56

An easy mistake to make, Stephen. The days of welfare state consensus, and 'Butskellism'! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-war_consensus

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Stephen Gospage

Fri 7th Jan 2022 09:20

Thank you, Greg. I enjoyed the rhythm of this and the final verse in particular. As for the heating breaking down, I feel your pain and hope it gets fixed today.

I remember the 1963 winter as a boy. One odd incident from it: My mum came in to the bedroom one morning and told me that Hugh Gaitskell had died. For some reason, she thought he was deputy prime minister. And so I did as well, until I knew better.

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Greg Freeman

Fri 7th Jan 2022 08:17

Thanks for the comments, Moonlight and Graham, and for the Likes, Nigel and Holden. Just hope the right part for the boiler arrives today!

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Graham Sherwood

Fri 7th Jan 2022 00:53

A fine review of sixties childhood Greg. Weren’t we awful. Good character forming times outlined sharply in the final stanza.


Thu 6th Jan 2022 22:54

A journey to the past well travelled. Thanks for sharing your experience. I enjoyed reading it.

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