… in which I take a last turn on the Helter Skelter at the Roukie… #roukenglen
Rouken Glen are getting new play equipment. This is, of course, “a good thing”. Apart from the fact that the YouTube animation thing has a SPELLING MISTAKE in it, it looks okay. It’ll be an ‘Adenture Playscape’ apparently. Bring your own dentures?
People on the fb are positive about the changes – despite the loss of the play area while it is redone – but the nostalgic fuddy-duddy within me would like, for a moment, to selfishly lament the imminent loss of the Helter Skelter.
It is a piece of history. While the park launched today a focus on Archaeology for the next year, this ancient monument to childhood will be taken away, never to be dug up by future generations.
The helter skelter is a rite of passage. It is the site of the making of many a young mother/parent/carer in East Renfrewshire.
Your baby, now toddler, decides they want to have a go. They make their snotty way to the bottom step. If you are me, they fall, split their chin and give you the opportunity to go check out the first aid facilities in the Pavilion. (It was a blue paper towel… but this was in the olden days, before the Pavilion was the spruced up venue it is today…)
So, your baby, now toddler, decides they want to have a go and they make their way up the triangular steps, alone, in a line of bigger, stronger, more hardy, insensitive, socially inept children…. How will they cope?
The mother stands at the bottom, shielding her eyes from the… sun? (Hardly likely… ) rain?… and watches the ascent of her precious, precious child.
Of course, they reach the top and…. decide they don’t want to come down after all. They stand there, coming to terms with all they survey, and all they survey is a great height, a slippery slope, gravity, and a tiny mum far, far down and down, round the bend and, increasingly, round the bend.
They are frozen.
The queue of children behind them begin to puff and blow. The mum begins to instruct the child, in pretence of light-hearted encouragement: “Sit down, on you go,” while looking nervously at the other mums, dads, grannies, childminders all awaiting the great moment when your child bites the bullet and goes.
And they don’t.
Then another child in the queue will threaten to ‘help’.
Then an adult will look at you with an evil glare and say something like, ‘What are you going to do?’
And you look back, thinking, eh… wait until they crack and come down?
And for me, at this moment, on more than one occasion I was seven months pregnant or so with the next one.
Oh the shame of having to go up after them when you can’t fit!
And once you have been through this pantomime a good few times per child, away they go. Up and round and round and down. Repeat to fade.
And you become one of the mums with the evil glare and places to be and things to do, with no patience for snotty grotty toddlers whose carers should realize that it is a totally high chute and they are too wee for it.
So, just in case it was my last opportunity before it gets carted off to the scrapyard, I had a go. In a happy role reversal, I had a go while my son took pics of me coming down.
We are past the helter skelter stage now. And the mothers of babes in arms just now will never have that Rouken-Glen-parental-fail moment that we had, back in the day.
Will there be an equivalent, I wonder, when the Adenture playscape opens in July?
I suspect that it will be great, for the next generation – but it will lack that opportunity to petrify in terror, higher up than you ever thought you’d get.