1956….a year of influence for me…

I don’t know if any one else has a year that they recall as influencing their life and thinking to a huge extent?

I remember 1956 really well;

The summer Olympics and Christopher Brasher winning Gold in the Steeplechase and the great Vladimir Kuts won the 5,000 and 10,000 metres. I remember those races so well…from commentaries on the radio. In the future my favourite sport would be distance and middle distance running. Would that I could still enjoy the “aloneness of the long distance runner” (as opposed to the loneliness).

The Suez Crisis is there,  but somewhat in the background compared with the Hungarian Uprising and the Soviet (really Russian) crushing of  the same described with heart rending descriptions of the bravery of young people as they laid tin plates in front of Soviet tanks to stop them and enable them to be attacked. The tin plates looked like land mines. This was the incident that first impressed upon me the evils of totalitarianism, later to be confirmed by the events of the Prague Spring in 1968 and Tianenman Square in 1989.

It was the year that I first learned anything of the plight of the Tibetan people. I remember reading an article in, I think, The Reader’s Digest and being shocked and angry and driven to tears by what I read.

It was the year that my father bought me a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy….actually a replacement for my mother’s lovely bitch of the same breed with whom I had spent my childhood up until that year. I had to take Chutney to dog training classes. Would that young owners of the breed were made to do the same today. I firmly believe that we should bring back a dog–licence. A fee of £200 (two hundred GBP) would not be too much.

1956 was the year I first became aware that people destroy their environment. We lived near Blean in Kent and our house backed on to what , I now know, was an area of coppiced Sweet Chestnut with, further up the hill, chestnut woodland beyond. This was an area where Romanies camped from time to time and I was told not to play with the children. An instruction I happily disobeyed as I knew just where the best wild strawberries grew. The coppice stumps were removed by blasting to provide more land for farming and, I would imagine, the gypsies came no more. The whole area is now known as The Blean. I remember weeping with anger at the destruction of my playground and the nesting site of Nightjars,  among other wild things.

My uncle used to turn up at our house with a strange woman and her children in tow….she later became my aunt after my uncle had been divorced by his first wife. Another lesson, the whole affair hurt my grandmother tremendously and I suppose it was my first run in with hypocrisy…my uncle was such a good christian after all.

I look back on 1956 with increasing realisation that it was a year that had a huge influence on me. I was ten years old that August.

The following year we moved back up to Norfolk and my life changed forever.


3 Responses to “1956….a year of influence for me…”

  1. Grannymar Says:

    I don’t really remember ’56 I was nine, yet the following year before my tenth birthday mammy had a serious heart attack and I really had to grow up and take over the cooking, washing and cleaning for the eight of us. My childhood was short.

  2. rummuser Says:

    I was 13 in 1956. A number of momentous things happened to me too, the most important of which is something about which I can only write when one person concerned is no longer with us. Suffice it to say, that it was an year of deep anguish, angst and violence in my life. I hurt others, got hurt myself and caused emotional scars on my late mother due to my behaviour.
    Academically however, I was finally in high school and with some wonderful teachers who ensured that I did well enough to lay the ground work for the next three years to pass out of high school with some dignity. A friendship that developed during that period has survived many vicissitudes and is today a strong relationship of immense value to me.

  3. magpie11 Says:

    ’56 just seems to be THE year which helped make me what I am…..

    It’s interesting to read your thoughts … both.

    I remember the hardships of my childhood too….at home, at school…
    My mother lived in at least 30 different houses in 26 years of marriage… and I still cannot work out why my parents stayed together…. it wasn’t love, certainly not at the end.

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