It is nearly sixty years old. The plate has been sitting on the shelf for ten months with the two mugs in front of it. I heard the crash a few moments after I had taken something out of a nearby cupboard.
The mug was handmade by Geofffrey Maund; I know it is just an object, but I am upset that it is broken. However, it started me thinking about Vince, my china money box pig.
Vince the pig is almost as old as the mug; my best friend gave him his name when he was fifteen years old; she thought his eyes resembled one of the boys at youth group.
In 1976, Vince the pig fell from the shelf above the gas fire in my bedsit. I fixed him with superglue which gives me confidence that I can mend my mug. You can see Vince on the second shelf of the cabinet.
This led me to thinking about how life and attitudes have changed in the United Kingdom in the last fifty years.
Today I have been to see ‘The Imitation Game,’ which tells the story of Alan Turing and breaking of the ‘Enigma’ code in the Second World War – an excellent performance by Dominic Cumberbatch.
I had not realised that it was as late as 1967 that the Sexual Offences Act came into force in England and Wales which decriminalized homosexual acts between two men aged over 21 for the first time since the Victorian era.
Round about the same time, a male friend who attended Wilson’s Grammar school in South London was allowed, at the age of fifteen, to practise firing .22 rifles at targets in a closed off part of the playground during lunchtimes without teacher supervision.
These weapons and other .303 Lee Enfield rifles, as well as live ammunition, were only removed from the armory in the school basement in 1971 at the start of the IRA bombings in London.
Thinking about the youth group, I was reminded of this poem I wrote a few years ago. One of the other teenage boys was called Donald Stocking.
Did you know,
my brother and his friend
waylaid your dad
by the lifts
in the flats
with replica guns?
Because they thought my mum
would be the one
to come in
Poor Mr. Stocking,
scared because my brother and his friend
not little boys.
Better if he had
put a stocking on his head
and waylaid them
Some people have been shocked when they have read this poem. Nowadays, teenage boys with replica guns would attract the attention of police marksmen, but in 1969 on the council estate where we lived, many things were different.