Go Outside and Play


That’s what we were told as kids. Now there is angst within our group of mums concerning our gaggle of teenage boys. A constant war wages between the dreaded X-Box type entertainment and the great outdoors with its accompanying fresh air and exercise.

Times have changed and the concerns facing us surrounding our developing youngsters seem very real so we wonder what kind of mothers we would be if we ignored them. Yet we yearn for them to have the halcyon days of summer, the swallows and amazons adventure without the Lord of the Flies part.

And so it was, that on a chilly overcast day in the holidays I dropped Star II at a local village.
“ You can drop me off here.” The exact location was shrouded in mystery, the private den where only a few could go, heaven knows what would happen if I discovered it. As usual Star II had over slept so wasn’t sure if anyone would be there as he was late. We came up with a plan that he was to text if alone and come to the village green, where I was walking the Pagan Pup.
Time passed and at the end of the walk there was no news from Star II. What there was though, was a Police helicopter hovering over the village; lower and lower it came and then circled around before hovering again, all rather nosey and irritating to be honest.

I met a friend and her dogs, ’What’s that Police helicopter doing?” she asked. For a moment I felt like I was in a cheap American movie. Taking no news from Star II to be good news I encouraged the Pagan Pup back into the car and started homeward. The cheap movie theme continued as I rounded a bend to be faced with two police cars with lights flashing, a couple of officers talking earnestly into their radios and a sorry collection of men, heads down, huddled in a group by the roadside. Subsequent rumours say that a group of migrants had stowed away on a lorry and wound up in our Market Town. Not even we, here in our bubble, are immune to the traumas of the larger world it would seem. So lost and hopeless they looked, a little microcosm of global sadness. Lost in thought as the helicopter continued to circle over the town, I realised I hadn’t heard from Star II.

Oh god! I had dropped him off in the epicentre of an international incident with my main priority getting back to Chez Pagan for a cup of Earl Grey!

I texted a friend, she had not heard from her son either and was unaware of the goings on. Eventually the phone rang, before I had a chance to chastise him about his habit of
non-communication Star II launched in excitedly,
“Mum it was brilliant. This police helicopter came down really low over our den and then a policeman arrived and said that we needed to go back into town and not to talk to any strange men.”

Oh god. “I’ve been trying to get hold of you, keep your phone on! Where are you now?”
“ Sorry, it’s out of power. We’re in a local supermarket, bye!”
My heart stopped- a local supermarket! Now who would have thought the prospect of my dear boy coming across a desperate foreigner in a remote copse would be preferable to the amount of sugar based products I imagined he’d be buying?

I sipped the Earl Grey, it occurred to me that those men risked so much only to end up in a beautiful and affluent place that they could never be a part of. By what little they saw, it must have seemed like another planet.

As for us and our kids we should be grateful that they can go out and ‘play’ forgetting to charge their wretched phones. Yes we live in a bubble, which is both beautiful and delicate.

Sandra Pagan