“People don’t seem to go out very much now, when we were young, we went out every weekend,” commented my aunt.
Even if there were not the present raft of restrictions, the comment would probably be an accurate reflection of Twenty-First Century social life. Pubs would not have been closing down at the rate of fifty a week if there were millions of young people going out for the evening.
“We used to cycle everywhere, into Langport, or to Somerton, in our dresses,” added my mother.
“In flat shoes?” asked my sister.
“No, we hadn’t time for that, in our heels.”
“I met your Dad at the Red Lion in Somerton. I didn’t give him my number, you must have done,” my mother looked at her sister.”
“If I did, I don’t remember,” my aunt responded.
Recalling a dance sixty-five years ago would be a challenge. Recalling the telephone number of my grandparents’ farmhouse would not have been a challenge for anyone, Long Sutton 217. I can still hear my grandmother’s voice stating the number slowly and clearly as she held the black Bakelite receiver to her ear.
“Do you remember the night we got attacked on the way home?”
Did people really get attacked in rural Somerset of the 1950s?
“We were on the way home from Somerton on our bicycles and there was a group of men who stopped us. One of them grabbed me around the waist and tried to pull me in through a gate of a field.” The story was one my mother had not mentioned before.
“I took off my stiletto and hit him on the head with the heel. They were so drunk, we were able to escape from them,” my aunt declared
“We stopped the first car that came along. It was a police car. The men shouted that they were our boyfriends and we told the police that the men were no such thing and that all that we wanted was to get home safely.”
Perhaps the story was not one that was shared until years afterward. It is hard to imagine my grandfather would have allowed two of his daughters to go to dances where they might encounter such danger. It is also difficult to imagine he would not have sought out those responsible.
Perhaps there are many reasons why young people do not go out as often as their predecessors, but being casually attacked is probably not a risk they often face.