time here. The weather has been warm, sunny and generally more than good.
I have had to pedal out on any number of errands in the last few days. I have been in and out of one of the banks at the local shopping centre. I have been to the Post Office almost every day.
I have had to go elsewhere as well.
Every day I have passed two playgrounds. One is large and the other is small but they both have play equipment. The large one is big enough in which to kick a football or play a form of cricket.
There has not been a child in sight in either place. There has not been a child in sight in either place on any day.
The local shopping centre has a "cinema complex" upstairs. On at least four occasions I have seen large groups of children from the local schools' "school holiday programme" being herded up to the cinema - presumably to watch a film during the sunny, daylight hours.
Oh yes, I think they are quite happy to be going there - the noise suggests they might even be looking forward to it.
I can remember "going to the pictures" with my maternal grandmother once. We went during the school holidays and we went in day time. It was, fortunately, a wet day or I would have wanted to be there even less than I did. My grandmother wanted to see "The Sound of Music" for the fourth or fifth time and her excuse was that she was taking me. I did not want to go but I can remember keeping my mouth shut rather than endure a row. I presume I was even polite enough to thank her for taking me. But going to see a film in daylight in precious school holiday time seemed wrong to me. There was too much else to do.
These children are being entertained, occupied and organised. They seem to expect it. I am not even sure they would know what to do in the playground if they were let loose. Would they look for an adult to organise them into teams to kick the football or bowl the cricket ball? Would they just do the moves they have been taught on the hanging bars?
I wonder if those bars ever become the only way across a moat full of crocodiles or piranha fish? Do those children ever climb to the top of the twirling yellow plastic sliding tunnel and think of it as an escape route from the aircraft or the castle?
I asked the Little Drummer Boy (he lives next door) what he did when he went to the park. He just shrugged and looked at me as if I was slightly stupid.
"We don't go there any more. It's boring."
He's almost eight and the park is boring? He doesn't want to climb or hang or slide or swing?
It can't be like that for all children. I know it is easier to take them to the pictures than it is to supervise them in free play. I know it is also considered to be "safer". I wonder though just when they are allowed to get "bored" so that they end up actually creating a game for themselves.
I am frightened this might not happen and, if it does not happen, that they might end up not thinking for themselves. Isn't that how people become jihadists?