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Games In the Three Cornered Field – Dares

Looking back on those early childhood memories, my life just seems to be one big adventure.

When it was fine, the Three Cornered Field, which is now the site of Skipsey Court Residential Home, was used for many things.  We took pop, sandwiches and blankets for picnics.  We had a couple of old cricket bats and played cricket; rounders was great fun too.  This could be dangerous as some of the batters would throw the bat anywhere before they ran, and I recall once Gordon Bennett getting hit right across his nose.  There was blood everywhere.

When the football season started, it was our main game.  We sometimes played from after tea until 9pm at night.  During the war, as it was double summertime, it was light until 11 o’clock, we never seemed to get tired but when we got home and had something to eat and drink our heads hardly touched the pillows and we were asleep.

We were also forever daring each other, like knocking on Rev Lukas’ door up the drive of his big gloomy house (now the Redburn Pub), or venturing into the schoolyard and being terrified if Old Bill was about, or jumping the Redburn which ran down through the allotments and through a tunnel under the electric line.  Parts of it were quite wide and if dared to jump it, you had to do it.  Often, someone would land right in the middle of the red muddy water.  We would try to clean whoever it was, but it was useless.  The worse dare of all was to go through the tunnel running under the electric lines.  You had to bend nearly double.  Some of the lads would never do it and would meet us around the other side.

We were all given the most serious talking to about the dangers of playing beside the electric line.  However, one day tragedy struck our village when a young lad called Jimmy Stanners did not heed the warnings and tripped and fell across the live rail and was electrocuted.  Needless to say, no one ever again went near the electric line.  However, this did not stop us hitching a ride on the back of the empty coal wagons going back up to Backworth to fill up.  We used to drop off around New York for blackberries or pinching a turnip, or just messing about as kids do. We thought we were so adventurous.

We would camp out on the ‘Rec’ (Recreation Ground) every time there was hot weather.  We didn’t have tents, just any kind of sheeting stretched on a rope between two poles.  We used to make fires and roast potatoes.  On one occasion, we pinched some coke from the school, the fire was red hot and we dropped our spuds into it, then got them out and started eating them; they were awful.  We didn’t realise that they would be full of gas from the coke.  Of course, our mother’s kept an eye on us. The reality was we were usually cold, never slept a wink and were glad to get into our warm beds, often giving up halfway through the night.  Despite this, we would try again and again.

Looking back on those early childhood memories, my life just seems to be one big adventure.

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