Wednesday, 12 August 2015

In Praise Of Parents

Back in those hellish years of adolescence, we gamers and geeks and general social misfits not only had to put up with being bullied, shunned and ignored by our peers, but also had to face something with far more terror potential than all the rest put together...


They stopped us being out late, disapproved of the girls we brought home and assured us that the only way to a thick head of hair was to get it cut regularly.

And now, despite all that I would like to pay my most sincere respects to all of those parents who had their treasured homes filled by hordes of fantasy obsessed, denim-clad yobs for so many years as we descended at regular weekly intervals (daily in some cases) like a Mongol horde to fill dining rooms, bedrooms and living rooms, rapaciously devouring any food in our path.

And so...

Peter & Sheila Ashmore:

Peter was wise to us. I have rarely been as scared of anyone's Dad, as I was of Peter. Mr Ashmore frankly took no bullshit from any of us. One memorable weekend it snowed whilst we were gaming at Darren's home and it snowed. It had been cold, but as was the norm we were all dressed in the uniform of thin combat jackets, T-shirts , denim jackets and a few pairs of gloves. It was snowing, we were young and so we all dropped the dice and made off into the winter darkness to pelt each other with snow. Upon returning sodden and frozen, to the Ashmore residence we were all right royally bollocked by Mr Ashmore and we skulked upstairs somewhat shame faced and cowed.

But (and here is the mark of a top bloke) about half an hour later, Peter appeared at the bedroom door with a tray of steaming mugs of tea.

Sheila, was the water to Peter's fire (but we were not going to wind her up because we were pretty sure that Mrs Ashmore would not put up with B.S either) and never seemed phased when half a dozen kids arrived without invitation just about lunchtime on Saturday. The wonderful Mrs Ashmore filled the table with viands and even if she was put out by our arrival, she was sweet and funny and never for one moment showed inhospitality.

Peter & Sheila... You put up with a lot from us - red dye in the toilet cistern when we played 'Killer', wet gloves and jackets  all over the place and probably the food bill of a small European country - and I always felt as your home was mine when I visited.

Thank you both...

Kitty Rhodes, Mother of Keith (where did he disappear to) was another totally unflappable mom. She had two sons, so what difference would ten more make? Kitty fed us and berated us when we went a bit to far. Kitty had very few house rules, but I once transgressed and had to wear my backside in a sling for a month or so afterwards, such was the ferocity  (albeit quietly) that my friends mom unleashed upon me. I deserved it...

Keith and I were pretty much joined at the hip in our youth and whenever our parents went on holiday  we would live at the home of the ones who were away at the time, clearing out the fridges and living like barbarian night owls for weeks at a time.

Kitty also cooked the best red cabbage with apple, I'd ever had.

Kitty, thank you...

Mr & Mrs Blackburn, parents of Simon, put up with all of the usual antics with the added stress of having us swinging round swords and halberds in their garden. We were all heavily involved in reenactment in our later youth and so, when we found a garden large enough to practice - we did.

Many is the hour that games of Warhammer were fought out with 1000+ models on the Blackburn family dining table.

Mr & Mrs Blackburn, thank you.

Margaret & Dave Bishop, parents of David and Daryl unfortunately had a very large dining room AND garden. And so as was to be expected  they suffered from the human locust swarm probably more than was reasonable and fair.

Mr Bishop would be part of what was a parental car pool, collecting groups of young gamers from the assorted clubs we attended. It was as a passenger in one of these 'air lifts' that I first met Mr B. I don't think I impressed him.

Mrs B.. what can I say? Mrs B was always there when I was having trouble with my own parents at a difficult time in my life. She fed me, listened to my woes and gave me somewhere where I could feel I was wanted. When Kayte and I became parents, Mrs B was one of the first people outside of our immediate families to see our daughter, Ceridwen.

Mr and Mrs Bishop... Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Mrs Smith, Roger's Mum did not interact with us much but she still happy for us to invade her flat regularly and subscribed to the 'gaming circle' - more of which later.

Mrs Smith, thank you.

Mrs Needham, Andrew's Mum, was hardcore. She put up not only with my visits to wargame or just visit Andy, but moreover she never batted an eyelid to my black clad form during my Goth years. True, Andy was a Goth as was his girlfriend who both lived in the attic, but 1 Goth is company, three's a mass suicide!

SPecial mention must go to Mrs Needham's moussaka which even 30 years or so later has a very, very firm and fond place in my stomach's heart. That wonderful dish, warm and welcoming kitchen and the friendliness of Mrs Needham towards a pretty screwed up youth, did me the world of good.

And last but not least ...

Mum & Dad, my parents. You put up with a lot from me and probably still do. You made all of my mates welcome, even during times when you disliked me. You fed them, let them sleep over whenever they visited and maybe gave some of them the same feelings of support that their parents gave to me.

Thank you!

You will recall that I made mention earlier of the 'Gaming Circle'...

Well it went like this. 'Somebody' had a great idea hat we should each host a game pretty much every day of the school holidays, taking it in turns by rotation. Of course Mums would be expected to feed us all. And because all of our Mums were pretty amazing women, feed us they did, whilst we did our best to make a mess of their treasured homes. I played some of the best games in my life whilst the circle lasted, and none of us went hungry.

Dads made rounds of drinks and drove us home at sometimes unreasonable hours.

What's more it was also not uncommon for a group of us, having lived for several days in tents at this or that reenactment event, to spend a day or so when we all returned, at the first family home we came to, collectively breaking the ties of comradeship, before reporting to our own homes. I can only imagine the effect that a group of bruised, hoarse and hung over youths who had not washed for 3 days must have had on our long suffering parents. Trust me a mix of sweat, gunpowder and rampant youth is not one that will be bottled for re-sale.

On behalf of all of us who were there, thank you!


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