Summer, a ball and a bat. Perenially sweet nostalgia.

Mum, 1950, aged 15. Back row, 3rd from right.

Summer sports nostalgia, mum 1950Last week I took my eldest son to his first ever Rounders match. For those of you watching in Black and White, Rounders is the UK’s poor-man equivalent of Softball. Ish.

The kids had very little clue about the rules of the game, and were clearly unencumbered by the burden of a tactical strategy, so they basically got hammered, but they had wicked fun doing it!

It brought to mind the playing fields of my own childhood. Those summer afternoons when my school class would take to the outdoors where a series of white poles were laid out, marking the ‘bases’ of the pitch. I can still smell newly mown grass (I may even begin sneezing, so please excuse) and feel the butterflies rising in my belly as it is my turn to bat.

I discovered this 1950 photo of my mother recently, amongst a box of things which my father had given me to sort through after she died. I had no idea that she had been a sporty youth. Tennis, athletics, netball – the photos tell their own story to some extent, but what is sadly missing is her personal narrative. She was 15 years old when this photo was taken. My knowledge of my mother really begins when she was the age I am now. Shameful, or normal?

Was she a good batswoman? How did she feel when a high ball hovered towards her open hands and the sun was in her eyes? These are the gaps in her story that can never be filled, so I am determined that my own children will have all my answers ready and waiting, when they are older and mature enough to ask the right questions.

Me, 1978 aged 11. Back row, almost with my hands on the trophy (left of she who holds it)Summer nostalgia, rounders 1978

Funny how decades can pass, fashions can change, and children grow old, but the rules of the game remain virtually unchanged; a small stump of wood and a little ball can continue to bring the same joy to my son in 2011 as they did when his mother was 11 and his grandmother a similar age too, some 60 years ago.

And so we hang up our little white socks and plimsolls, handing over to a new generation of sporting heroes. Each generation reliving in their children the nostalgia of their own childhood, rejuvenated by fresh legs and fresh minds. We watch and nod as our advice is dismissed, due to our advancing years (after all our usefulness declines in direct correlation to the years we acquire does it not?) and our children learn through their own mistakes.

Would that he could see me as my 11 year old self, chasing furiously for 4th base as the crowds scream my name in a riot of “Rounder, Rounder, Rounder!!” Maybe then I would be more than just a taxi to the match.

My son, George, 2011. Back row standing left (with his hand pushing his little brothers face. Nice)

Summer nostalgia, rounders 2011

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