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I thought I’d add a follow-up story of mother’s patience.  Apparently I was born with a twisted ankle and to strengthen my ankles I needed to do some special exercises – like picking up marbles with my toes.  It became useful as I got older and dropped things.  But the doctor also prescribed wedges for my shoes for the first 7 or so years of my life.  Buying shoes was interesting, we would go to the Clarkes shoe-shop in our local shopping centre.  The best part was putting my feet, in their shoes, into the viewing machine and seeing the real-time x-ray view of my toes wriggling inside my shoes.  Luckily we didn’t buy that many shoes or goodness knows what damage would have been done by this unnecessary x-ray exposure.  Ah yes, the good old days.

Once we had chosen a pair and got the proper fit the shoes had to be sent away to have the wedges inserted.  I still have no idea what they actually did.  So I never got to take a pair home right away.  The first time we went shoe-shopping after it was decided I no longer needed wedging, was wonderful.  I got to take the new shiny shoes home in their box right away and put them on.

I don’t remember whether the incident I am about to tell was pre or post wedge-free times.  I suspect it was post.

We lived on a hill (I think being born on the side of the hill had much to do with needing the wedges, but that’s another story).  The hill was extremely steep at the top and just a fairly gentle slope by our house which was nearer the bottom.   From the top of the hill we could see right across the Lee Valley and the great George VI reservoirs.  To the east of them would often come the sounds of munition being fired from the Lee-Enfield munitions factory.  I believe it was the place the famous Lee-Enfield rifles of the First World War were made.

Our hill was wonderful for all sorts of games.  But one of my favourites was taking a roller skate (they used to be strapped to the bottom of shoes – they didn’t come already attached to boots) and lay a short plank of wood across the skate.  These were the first skate-boards.  We would ride the skate-boards by sitting on them with our feet out front, holding onto the edges of the planks for stability.   I can remember the nasty grazes and cuts I received if the board tilted too far one way or the other – my knuckles would get pinched between the board and the sidewalk (pavement for the brits) and then scraped along until I could right the board.

We steered by leaning one way or the other and in emergencies applied the brakes (the heels of our shoes). It was great fun.  As we became braver (that’s one word for it) we would start our ride from higher up the hill and the steeper parts.  From the top we were pretty much out of control. But it was a lot of fun.  Of course we all challenged each other to go higher.

I had a new pair of shoes (whether straight from the shop or after having been wedged I don’t know).  One of my friends suggested we go skate-boarding.

We spent a wonderful afternoon climbing the hill – ever higher – and shooting down to the bottom, which ended at a t-junction with a fast road.  It wasn’t possible to turn the ninety degree corner without the application of brakes.

After a happy afternoon of this I returned home for tea.  I put my skate board away (that probably means I left the skate and the board on the back steps for my Dad to find when he came home in the dark).

I went in to see Mum.  I stood in front of her, probably the first time I had been standing upright the whole afternoon.  I found myself leaning backwards at quite a severe angle and actually would have toppled over if I hadn’t put one foot back. My lack of balance puzzled Mum.  Then she looked down and said something like “look at your shoes!”.  The heels of both shoes were worn down to a forty-five degree angle (notice I used the passive voice here and didn’t say ‘I had worn down the heels of my shoes…’).  “Those are new shoes!”.  Thank goodness the local cobbler used to do ‘soles and heals’.

I don’t remember if there were any consequences to this misadventure but I don’t remember going skate-boarding very much after that.    Well, it was time to move on to go-carts anyway. “any old pram wheels you don’t want misses?”

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