The Witches Hat

I miss the long summer days spent at Queens Park playing with on The Witches Hat, and sit here wondering what my son would think of my 70’s childhood experience.

If there are two things that I remember most from Queens Park, it was the feeling of falling over on concrete, and the unadulterated play process of adventure. I recall that stinging feeling on the palm of my hands, and sore wrists from attempting to break the falls from that metal structure we played hours upon end on. I recall my ashy knee caps, soreness of my shins and ankles from the constant connection with the play structures, as we raced about playing ‘had’.To have experienced The Witches Hat was breathtaking. Couple of the  older kids my aunty and uncles age would let us ride with them. It always felt like an initiation to some elite club. The play opportunity appeared simple. We’d be asked to hang onto one end whilst *pause* it always seemed as if the older kids, or heavier kids were on the opposite side of the The Witches Hat to me. *Unpause* they’d be standing about five feet off the ground on the structure rocking it aggressively, forward and backwards, left to right. No the object was not to fall, but hold on for dear life like a mid air buckeroo. You’d be occasionally jolted, as the inside of The Witches Hat would crash against the pole.

I’d say the first couple minutes were a thrill, mainly because the adrenalin was still in the system, wind, leaves, and dust in your afro, legs dangling out from under you, Mojo’s and spearmint Pacers flying out your pockets, as we spun around. However, once that died off and the sweat began to seep out onto the palm of your hands, the joy soon disappear, as with the tight grip. All of a sudden the now 8ft fall presented a new play opportunity within itself.

I’m glad to say that I survived more times than less. But the memories of sitting in the bath before bedtime, with a capful of dettol poured in for good measure to disinfect the cuts. When the heat from the water and dettol combined use to catch that cut, I remember arching my back in a concaved manner, and clenching my butt cheeks firmly to stop me from soiling myself. WOW. Pain.

The metal play structures and The Witches Hat are no a feature at Queens Park, and thinking about it now it was probably dismantled and given to The Rag and Bone man. Where once stood a five foot climbing frame, there is now a zip wire that is barely three feet tall and surrounded by woodchips. Where once stood The Witches Hat, is now a small structure that looks fresh out of the Tweenies, with not one bit of risk associated with it. Wood-chip, wood chip everywhere messing up my white footwear, where once stood a see-saw, there is now just a pit of soil and wood chips with a tiny horse on a spring. Is this living? Is this preparing our little ones for life? 
Now everything on the playground has rounded corners and is covered in plastic. Playgrounds deemed too dangerous for today’s pampered children, and has  left my beloved Witches Hat a thing of the past.
With my thought’s in mind if there’s one thing to try and do this summer embrace that Quality Within Play, and place Sunday 11th September 2011 in your diary. Come down and visit Queens Park day, Queens Park, North West London. Take lots of picture and share them with me on my blog

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