In January and February of 1963 there was a very cold Winter. There were blizzards and snow drifts that the UK hadn’t seen the like of since 1740. The snow was so high in the streets that it closed all the roads. For weeks people couldn’t go to work. In those days bottles of milk were delivered to doorsteps. The milk froze straight away and there was a white tube of frozen milk sticking out the top of the bottle with the foil on top like a hat.
Best of all was that snow and the freezing cold, meant kids didn’t have to go to school. Simon’s two big brothers, Tim and Jer also stayed home from boarding school. He had his little brother Jon to play with as well. Everyday Tim and Jer would go out with a sledge that their Dad Gordon had made them. Simon and Jon stayed at home because it was far too cold. Simon would watch his big brothers leave from the sitting room window. He begged them to take him, but they very sensibly said that he was only six years old and wouldn’t even be able to walk in the thick snow.
They had a black and white television to watch which helped a little. Simon and his brother were at home and became very bored. He remembers two TV programmes of those times very well. There was ice skating which seemed to be very popular at the time. In contrast, there were also plenty of Westerns. The Lone Ranger was Simon and Jon’s favourite show. Both types of programmes held odd memories for Simon. The ice skating was just a coincidence with the very cold weather. It would have been on telly anyway. It was on TV most Winters around that time.
Simon’s Mum saw Simon sitting down watching the Lady skaters one day. Simon slid from the chair to the floor and was watching the Ladies spin and turn on the ice. Simon continued to move closer and lower down on the floor until he was nearly under the TV set. His Mum suddenly realised what he was trying to do. ‘Simon, are you trying to look up those Ladies skirts?’ Simon turned bright red and did not answer her. She said, ‘the next time the Policeman comes around to check everyone is Okay I am going to tell him what you have been doing!’
He lived in dread of the PC turning up at the house and was on a constant look out for him. Simon thought he would have time to hide under the stairs if he saw him. Simon believed his Mum and that is why he has never been keen on policemen.
The Westerns gave his brother Jonathan ideas, that were to cause him problems as well. It was just after Christmas and both he and Jon had received cowboy guns that they could put caps in and pretend to shoot each-other with. These revolvers were quite heavy and realistic. After a session of chasing each other around the house firing the guns, Simon told his 4-year-old brother Jon he had enough and was going to sit down and put the TV on. As Simon sat there peacefully on the couch, Jon crept up behind him, turned the gun around so he was holding the barrel, and smashed Simon over the head with it! It was a scene shown many times in the Westerns.
Jon was only four and did not realise he could have fractured his brother’s skull! Simon was in agony. His head felt like it was full of gravel and the points of each piece were pressing the outside of his brain. His Mum put a cold flannel on it but that didn’t help. Jon disappeared from the scene. He left a lump on Simon’s head the size of an apple. Their Mum couldn’t and didn’t believe that her youngest child could have inflicted that much damage. Simon had a blanket draped over him and was left moaning and groaning. He was sparked out for the rest of the day.
Simon never looked at TV programmes like ice skating Ladies, or the Lone Ranger Western films in quite the same way again. The possibility of a Policeman turning up or getting smashed over the head seemed to spoil his enjoyment of them.