Sometimes when you think about the past it’s the small things that you miss. I have lived close to our local park for a very long time- about twenty five years- and I have known it well for much longer than that. Filey is a seaside holiday town and in the summer it gets very well used. There is a boating pool, a putting green, crazy golf, slides, swings, a climbing frame, trampolines, little motorised bumper bikes to ride that run round a small track, tiny tricycles to ride along the paths and a cafe. Most importantly there is a large stretch of grass where visiting schools can eat their packed lunches and groups of energetic people can play football, cricket or rounders. There are seats everywhere for those who need a rest and flowers in the Spring. In lots of ways it has changed very little; forty years ago I was enjoying putting or playing cricket on the same grass and now I am within sight of the age where I will need a good sit down. I am glad that the park is still there, still giving pleasure, but some things have gone…………..
When I was growing up there were two putting greens, not one. You bought your ticket, which doubled as a score card, from a man sitting alone inside a small mock Tudor booth. I can remember his face very well. Early middle aged, round, cheerful, neat brown hair, tie. Like magic he would produce a putter, just the right size, and a golf ball for you and pass them through the window. When I was seven or eight this was exciting ( be tolerant there was no internet back then) and he would talk to me. When I brought the clubs back, running ahead of my dad, he would ask me how I had done. That was his day. Over and over again. One person after another. By the end of the first week of your holidays he might know your name and by the end of the second week you might have shown him your new Tressy doll and told him which of the beach ponies you liked best. Sometimes it was so busy that you had to wait for someone to bring their golf clubs back. I loved it. It might as well have been St Andrews. It was St Andrews.
That man is long gone now and his booth is used to store the crazy golf equipment. The putting greens are never busy. The window he used to look out of has been boarded up and there is a sign placed on it. “Please obtain putting equipment at the trampolines.” I always feel sad when I walk past it, almost as though the man who I remember is still hidden in the dark inside, longing to be let out, along with a whole world of childhood memories that come with him. He has been forgotten- very few of the people walking past will ever have known that he once sat in there. They do things differently now, in our hurry up and be careful world. The man at the trampolines has a busy day. As well as timing how long children spend jumping up and down he has to look after the golf clubs, set out the crazy golf, and monitor the bikes and the little racetrack. I doubt that anyone shows him their new doll, although I hope they do, and I sometimes wonder what would happen if one of the more determined toddlers tried to head for freedom on one of the trikes. You can get a long way in ten minutes.