Blackened Skull

There is no gene for the human spirit

I’ll never forget my Claygate childhood

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I no longer live in Claygate and there have been times that I regret leaving the village after spending around 25 years there – from child to adult. With my old village being the backdrop to some recent unpleasant news, I’ve been muling over my feelings about the childhood I spent there.

Just thinking about the word Claygate drums up so much nostalgia for me. Bad things did happen while I grew up there, sure, but the main story would be one of a magical place that allowed me and my friends the freedom to run with our imaginations.

Claygate had and still has an abundance of woodland and open countryside. As a child living with a woodland behind your home – sitting at the end of your garden almost – I had endless possibilities for make-believe and adventure. Maybe the environment of fields, woods and the heavy scent of nature compounded a feeling of safety. Claygate always felt like a place outside of normal time. Violence and crime never seemed to be on anyones lips and there was a sense of freedom from the ‘big bad world’. The world seen through a child’s eyes? Possibly.

Let me take you through a few of the standout moments from my time living in Claygate;

Queen’s Silver Jubilee, 1977. Street party! Friends were easy to come by in the cul-de-sac that I lived in. We all seemed to get on, no matter what the age. The children from the street would play games of forty forty or it seemed that way. I remember winning second place in the fancy dress competition that day. Both my younger brother and I were dressed as red indians but I went up to collect the prize. I have a picture of me in the prizing winning costume somewhere and will think to get it scanned and added at some point.

AD&D and beyond. The foundations of my appreciation of what a good game is began back in the ’80s. Card and board games came and went but as soon as I experienced my first taste of a AD&D game at a friends, my whole perspective was changed. The friend in question had a games room that contained a snooker table that doubled for some table-top gaming. I think we had a small group of around five but that was an ideal number for my Cleric to get some tough adventuring. I loved that the DM spoke the scene and from the rolls of a trusty d20 developed the adventure with hardly any visual aids. Our AD&D group didn’t live long. It didn’t break any records but it was magical moment that I have not since recaptured. Of course computer gaming – thanks Elite – then came into my life but not before I’d had a good few years of PBM games like that of Crasimoff’s World and Saturnalia. I remember I use to hound our postman as I waited for each new turn to arrive. Some of the wonder of PBM gaming was the wait between sending your turn in and having a GM work out what happened and getting it back to you. A two week wait wasn’t unheard of and can you imagine today’s gamer having that kind of patience?

I feel there’s more about my childhood in Claygate that I have yet to put down in words. You may well see a further post from me on this subject but it really depends on whether you, dear reader. Would want to hear more about those wonder years?

Written by David Osbon

September 12, 2012 at 12:37 am

Posted in Childhood

Tagged with , , , ,

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  1. […] one other item I’ll mention in closing is the most-read post so far. I took advantage of a breaking news item in the media to discuss my upbringing in Claygate a […]

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