Ready for landing

Air travel wasn’t available when I was a child, or not for me anyway. I am unable to recall anyone in my circles, family or friend, who travelled anywhere by air. Perhaps we weren’t an adventurous lot, but air travel wasn’t as easy, affordable, comfortable, quick, or commonplace as it is now.

Though I’d often thought I’d love to be a bird soaring above the world, I was a young adult before I experienced my first flight. I was entranced by the land below as I sailed on the wind in a glider, like a bird on the wing.

It was a couple of years later that I had my first plane fight, and many years later before I travelled internationally. Yes, I’ve lived a sheltered life. Like many of the younger generations, my grandchildren have already experienced air travel, both within Australia and internationally. They would require almost as many fingers as I to count plane trips.

Whether travelling or not, airports are always a great place to visit with children. There is much to observe, learn, wonder about, and imagine.

Watching planes take off and land can fascinate children, and encourage all sort of questions, not only about the physics of flight, but the types and features of planes, the airlines, and where they are going to or coming from.

People watching can also be absorbing and encourage even more questions about the jobs people are doing and the reasons for them, where the people are going to or coming from, and who they are travelling with.

There is much to see and learn about, like passports, boarding passes, security scanners, customs officers, flight attendants, cleaners, retailers, baggage handlers, check-in operators. Or there were, until recently. Some of these roles have now been automated.

The boards showing arrivals and departures can spark discussions about places around the world, the people who live there, and who might be travelling to or from each location and for what purpose.

The currency exchange tellers with their constantly changing figures can lead to even more discussions.

I’m sure I’ve omitted more than I’ve included and that you can add many other points of interest.

But knowledge of what goes on in airports is not all that can be developed. Children’s imaginations can also be inspired. Observation tells so much. The gaps can be filled by imaginations creating stories of what might be.

I was doing my share of people watching recently while waiting for the arrival of daughter Bec on a flight from Canberra. People were coming and going, some hurriedly, others more relaxed. Some were obviously waiting for their own flights, others waited with them. Others, like I was, were waiting for the arrival of family or friend.

Sadly, we were all to be disappointed. Brisbane experienced an unusual weather event – dense evening fog which prevented planes from landing or taking off. Bec’s plane turned back to Canberra mid-flight. At least she was returned home. It wasn’t so for some of the other passengers, stranded for additional days away from their destination, be it home, holiday or other.

Evening fog in Brisbane is unusual; morning fog, less so. Last year when returning from LA, my flight was diverted to Coolangatta. Fortunately, disruptions to travel caused by fog are not frequent.

But why am I thinking about planes and airports?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an unexpected landing. It can be acrobatic, an unplanned move or created into a metaphor. Go where the prompt, or chickens, lead.

This is where my thoughts landed after a foggy start.

Ready for landing

“Are we there yet?”’

“Not yet, Honey. Look. This is us. This is where we’re going. Another couple of hours. Watch a movie. Then we’ll be almost there.”

Mum replaced her mask and earplugs. Soon there’d be others to entertain Flossie while she relaxed on the beach or caught up with old friends.

She hadn’t realised she’d drifted off until Flossie’s insistent, “How much longer?” awakened her.

“Must be soon,” she flicked on the flight tracker.

“Please fasten your seatbelts for landing.”

“Yep. Almost there.”

“DIVERTED” flashed on and off the screen.

“What! Where?” She squinted. “Home! Why?”

Fog!

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

63 thoughts on “Ready for landing

  1. Jane Morris

    Ooh, thanks Norah, that post reminded me of a conversation I had with my son.
    He is currently learning to fly. At the tender age of 17 he has decided to try and get his pilots licence before his driving one! Maybe he’s realised that Mum’s taxi has its benefits?
    Anyway, he astutely observed yesterday that “flying is easy, landing is difficult”.
    He explained all the processes he has to go through for each and that landing a plane is the tough nut to crack. Its also expensive as a pilot pays a landing fee for each landing. The more times you practice a landing, the more cash you have to stump up.
    I then highlighted the metaphor that his words had just generated in my mind. It is indeed easy to fly or day dream, but landing and making the daydreams a reality? Isn’t that where the hard work begins and the money gets spent?!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for sharing your son’s piloting experiences and the wisdom and analogy you gleaned from it, Jane. Yes, I think daydreaming is easier, making them a reality is the hard, and often expensive bit. I would have thought flying and landing were both essential skills for a pilot! Interesting that there is a charge to land. What else are they going to do? I don’t think they could fly forever!

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  2. Jennie

    Great post, Norah. In my classroom I have a “travel box” filled with real money from all over the world, maps, and tickets, and magnifying glasses to study the big satellite map I have taped to the table. I line up two rows of chairs to be a plane and have children make and sell tickets at the writing table. So popular, especially when we are learning about a new country.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your classroom travel centre, Jennie. It sounds fun. Had I been writing for the readilearn blog, I would have included many of those suggestions. Children really love finding out about countries in this way, don’t they: selling tickets, making their own passports and passport photographs, and getting them stamped. Satellite maps are great too, as is exploring the world through Google Maps – seeing the places from all the different perspectives, up close and far away. Communicating with other children from around the world is much easier now with the internet too. Just like we do – across the world.
      A lot can be learned with that real money from different countries.
      The children in your class are so fortunate to have you as their teacher – the way you enrich their lives is marvellous.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Jennie

        Thanks, Norah. Children really do learn best from hands on experiences, particularly with real items. The world is becoming smaller and smaller, so this sort of pretend play is important (and fun). How different from our childhood where we never even flew on a plane!

        Liked by 1 person

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        1. Norah Post author

          This hands on pretend play is great fun. Yes, it’s amazing to think that most of these children have been on a plane, years younger before we were on our first flight!

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  3. Hugh's Views and News

    I can’t recall knowing anybody who had flown in an aeroplane until well into my teens, Norah. There was a family who took their caravan to Italy, every summer, but the rest of us spent summer holidays in the UK.
    Never thought of an airport as a place of learning for children, but you’ve certainly highlighted how interesting a place it can be for them. Like watching flights take off and land, I was always fascinated by trains. My father would take me to the local railway station every Saturday morning so I could watch the trains come and go. I wanted to be a train driver back then, but that soon moved to wanting to be a Firefighter, to then wanting to be a shopkeeper. Makes me wonder how many of us actually end up doing the job we wanted to do as a child.

    I don’t mind fog, although, I agree, it can be very disruptive. You must have been very disappointed that your daughter’s flight was turned back. I hope plans are afoot for her to make the trip to see you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Hugh, Thanks for sharing your experiences. What a nice Dad to take you to the railway station every morning to watch trains! I’m sure you learned a lot through your observations.
      It’s an interesting thought to ponder, ‘how many of us actually end up doing the job we wanted to do as a child’. From age ten, I wanted to be a teacher, and education is what I have spent my adult life engaged in, so I guess it worked for me. I can’t remember wanting to be anything else (other than a mother probably) prior to that.
      It was very disappointing when my daughter’s flight was turned back. Hopefully we’ll get to see each other soon. Fingers crossed. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. robbiesinspiration

    You are so right, Norah, about how flying has become so much more common place. My son flew for the first time at 9 months and I flew for the first time at 24 years old. I went to South Korea and had to change planes in Singapore. That was my first flight every and it was to a country where people don’t speak English. I am not sure if I would do that now.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Robbie. It is pretty tough travelling to places when we can’t communicate with others. My first international flight was to Beijing, but I was lucky to be visiting an Australian friend there, and she did a great job of looking after me. She could speak Chinese fluently. When I visited Paris and got a taxi from the airport to my hotel, the driver and I had a fun time trying to communicate, he with his broken English and me with what I could remember of my high school French. 🙂

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  5. roughwighting

    Ah, yes. Our ‘first plane flight’ memory. I was 20, in college on summer break, and my parents decided to fly me to Paris to stay with some family friends (French). I was so motion sick on that plane I used about a dozen air sick bags and had to be helped off the plane when it landed. I vowed I’d never get on a plane again…but of course, I had to fly back home a week later. Since then, I’ve flown many many times, and for years used motion sick pills to help me. When we began to fly our children from one coast to the other to visit grandparents, we discovered that my son acquired the motion sick gene. Poor boy! Now we travel with our grandchildren, and the lessons to be taught! I like all of your suggestions. Another is how humans respond when seated closely together in a small flying tube. A good way to teach patience and understanding. ;-0
    Love your flash fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Oh Pam! I’m so sorry to hear about your travel sickness. How daunting it must have been to contemplate getting back on that plane to return home! To think that sickness has stayed with you, and now your grandson has inherited the gene! I have to say that it was rather generous of you to share. 🙂 It is interesting to see how we act when we’re all cramped in together. Lots to learn through observations, as well as our own social skills development. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash.

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. Pingback: Unexpected Landings « Carrot Ranch Communications

  7. Charli Mills

    Where I grew up, I remember many plane crashes (over the Sierra Nevada Mountains). My father being a search and rescue volunteer, made me aware of the unexpected landings. As a teen, we once rode our horses up a trail so high, almost 12,000 feet, that at night we could see Reno, Nevada over 100 miles away. He then told me of a plane crash on this mountainside that he had been part of the rescue team and how they found the pilot who survived the crash but succumbed to the freezing cold. He was still upright, staring off toward Reno. I suppose that’s not a lesson for most children! I prefer your idea of visiting airports though in the US that’s not so easy anymore with security measures in place. My husband worked for over 20 years in aviation which meant flight benefits for the family and those earlier morbid introductions had no last impact on what became a love of flight. However, I agree with Paula — the airlines today offer a far less satisfying experience. I love your flash and the mother’s thoughts on her parenting break, foiled by fog. I understand more than half the flights from Upper Michigan are canceled due to fog.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Charli. Your father must have had some stories to tell. What a great thing to do, to be involved as a volunteer in search and rescue missions. I’m sure some situations would have been rather unpleasant. The poor pilot frozen in place, standing, looking out. I wouldn’t have thought it possible. What a scene. I’m pleased the stories didn’t have a lasting negative effect on your attitude to flying.
      How great that Todd’s work in aviation offered some benefits for the family.
      As most of my (few in number) flights have taken place in the last 12 years, I can’t compare now with earlier times. I’m none the wiser.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash.
      If half of the flights from Upper Michigan are cancelled, I’m surprised they don’t have the radar facilities that Edinburgh has, as mentioned by Geoff. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. dgkaye

    Cute story Norah. And I agree there is so much going on in an airport to give many an education, let alone children, lol. But in your first statement where you mention air travel is now more affordable and comfortable, I’d have to disagree. Comfort isn’t something any airline is striving for as they cram more seats in to make more money, and everything from our seat to food and baggage is an add on fee. I told my husband they’ll soon start charging to use the washroom. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Debby. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about flying. I must admit I enjoyed reading them in your fun book “Have Bags Will Travel” too. 🙂 You are a more seasoned traveller than I, so I defer to your opinion as the result of greater experience. The airlines, like most corporations, do focus on their money making, as you say. I wouldn’t look forward to having to “spend a penny” on a plane. I can just imagine the hassles with people having to dig out coins to pay. Credit card facilities probably wouldn’t work up there – they wouldn’t be able to contact the bank! Or maybe they’d find a way.

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        1. Norah Post author

          You know, Debby, when I was writing my statement, I wondered about that. I hadn’t made any in-flight purchases, but I wondered if I’d seen eftpos machines in use. I wonder how they work, and why we can’t use the internet. I am behind the times! Thanks for bringing me up-to-date! 🙂

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          1. dgkaye

            Well, most people have their laptops going, doing whatever or watching movies on a plane. There are a few airlines that DO offer paid for internet. But most domestic flights that don’t offer it still allow you to use laptops, so make sure their charged up! 🙂

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            1. Norah Post author

              I know people can use devices on planes, but I wasn’t sure about internet. One of our local carriers offers their own service, but I thought it just connected to their onboard server, not further afield. As I said previously, I defer to your greater knowledge and appreciate that you are bringing me up to speed. Thank you. 🙂

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              1. dgkaye

                Thanks Norah,. The rules are ever-changing it seems with each trip I take, especially with every new stipulation the US seems to come up with seems to always trickle down to other country’s protocol. It’s getting harder and harder to travel.

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                1. Norah Post author

                  I think you’re right. I know what a disappointment that would be to you. You’re much closer to everything over there. We’re much further from everyone here and the flights are long and arduous. My daughter is visiting Columbus in Ohio at the moment. It took three flights and nearly 24 hours in travel time to get there. One of the flights was fifteen and a half hours. The return flight for that section is almost 17 hours. It’s a long time in the air in those cramped quarters you described.
                  I hope the changes don’t impede your travel plans too much. Stay safe.

                  Liked by 1 person

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                  1. dgkaye

                    Thanks Norah. Wow, that’s a long trip for anyone. And of course, besides all the sticky tape and cramped quarters, with all those stop overs and connections, you have to cross your fingers the luggage doesn’t get lost! 🙂

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  9. TanGental

    i am with you all on that first flight experience – I must have been 23 and on my way to Spain. I’ve never really been frightened by it but I can’t say I’ve ever found it enjoyable. Edinburgh, which I visited countless times on business, always seemed ot be shrouded in fog and I was used to being diverted until the late 90s when they fitted a new radar that let them land in pretty much any conditions; maybe it’s the sort of thing you get when it’s a daily issue and too expensive for Brisbane’s needs. Love the maternal comeuppance in the flash

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your flying experiences, Geoff. When the flights were diverted, I wondered how “foggy London” would cope on a daily basis. Interesting that there is radar to help foggy places, like Edinburgh, cope. I wonder how much cost is an inhibiting factor in places where fog occurs, but not so often.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. Thanks.

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  10. Dayne Sislen, Children's Book Illustrator

    Who would have guessed the future of air travel would be so annoying and cumbersome. I remember going to the airport as a young child in the 50’s just to watch planes take off. No one in my family had ever been on one, but I imagined them to be luxurious and destined for exotic places. Passengers who boarded the planes were all dressed up. Men in suits and hats and women in stylish dresses and hats. Women also wore nylon stocking and gloves. Things have sure changed.

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s an interesting observation, Dayne. (Some) people choose comfort over style when travelling. Maybe it depends how far one is travelling and for what purpose. I find it interesting that you describe air travel as “annoying and cumbersome”. With my little experience, it still fascinates me.

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  11. Annecdotist

    Reading this, I was so disappointed when Bec’s plane was diverted, so must have been quite a blow for you. When I used to supervise organisational observations, I remember someone did one at an airport which was quite interesting.
    But air travel with very young children isn’t so easy, as your flash shows. Airports are for more entertaining than the inside of the plane – and there’s room to run about.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for sharing our disappointment, Anne. We were very much looking forward to having the weekend together, but such was not to be.
      I’m sure the airport observations were interesting. 🙂
      You’re right. Air travel with young children is not easy, and airports are only “fun” for a short while. Not so much fun if flights are delayed or with a long time between connecting flights.

      Liked by 1 person

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  12. cynthiahm

    Hi Norah. The airport in our city has a family restaurant with large windows. You can eat while watching planes take off or land. Many families take their children for birthday celebrations. Your post reminded me of that place and bringing my son to watch the airplanes at an early age.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Cindy. What fun to have a birthday party at an airport. Clever airport to get people in. Is it in a separate area so they don’t have to go through security to get there? With renovations to our airport, it is not so easy to watch the planes take off and land any more.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. cynthiahm

        Actually, it is in a very separate area. I was just talking with my brother about this because when he first tried to find the restaurant, he went through the main area (guided by Siri) and couldn’t get to it only to find he actually had to drive around to a separate building beside the runway. It is quite unique, I think.

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        1. Norah Post author

          That sounds like a great idea, Cindy. I haven’t heard of anything similar so I assume it is unique. But then, just because I haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!!!
          How true it is that we can’t always trust Siri to know! 🙂

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  13. Susan Scott

    Lovely post Norah thank you! So much to pique the imagination! A place of transition is the first thought that comes to mind, people leaving and arriving and the excitement of that. But so much more as you’ve so aptly described! Such a learning experience for the younger ones, and for the adults who are used to flight travel, it is still a place of wonder … I love people watching and imagining …
    The flash prompt is lovely too!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Transition. That is a great term for it, Susan. Thank you. As I wrote my piece, I was thinking of the excitement. But departures, arrivals, and transitions can all be coloured with a variety of other emotions too. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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  14. susanzutautas

    The first time I few was when I was 17. I hated the take off and landing. I still do to this day. I do love airports though. I enjoy watching people especially the ones that have been reunited. Seeing the excitement on their faces when they first spot each other and run into each others arms.
    Loved your flash fog and all 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, Susan. I know many who don’t enjoy the take off and landing, or any part of the flight. You are not alone. But people watching is a great past-time. Some times Hub and I discuss what may happen if we rushed up to strangers and welcomed them off their flights. The responses could be amusing. But I think it’s something we may just imagine rather than do. 🙂
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. Thanks.

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  15. thecontentedcrafter

    When I was young Norah it was only the wealthy who flew – we travelled by train or bus and later car. I would drive regularly between Hawkes Bay and Wellington in the early 70’s with my babies sleeping in the back seat of the car. I was in my very late 20’s before I took my first flight on the same route, turning a four and half car trip into a 40 minute event of going up and coming down. Back then folk still took off for their OE’s by sea. It seems like it was back in the ark doesn’t it! Our local airport, being built in the middle of a plain that actually lies below sea level, is often at risk of cancellations because of fog – especially at this time of the year. I’ve learnt to check and check again. Your flash is fully realistic to me 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your memories, Pauline. It definitely does seem like the ark. When I think how much things have changed in our life time, it’s absolutely amazing. So much of what the young ones take for granted didn’t exist when we were children. Seems like your airport isn’t built in the best spot, but then we can’t determine the weather, and better to have flights when the weather is fine, than no flights at all.
      I’m pleased the flash is believable. Thank you for your kind words.

      Liked by 2 people

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  16. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I can remember the first plane landing at the airport (or perhaps it was the first I’d seen and it was a new type of plane) when I was very young. It was a Fokker Friendship. From that time I used to run around with arms outstretched playing Hokker henhips. It took them a while to work out what I was saying. I could not pronounce F’s in those days. Having a flight on one a few years later was memorable. We flew from Casino to Sydney. The captain let us go into the cabin and the view was spectacular. Funnily although I have flown a fair amount I never get over the rush that comes with taking off and landing and the childlike wonder (now tinged with a bit of adult fear). Great flash.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your memories, Irene. Your memories and experiences of flying are earlier than mine. How exciting the flight itself would have been for you, but to go into the cabin and see all the instruments and meet the captain – wondereful. I remember stories of children being taken up to meet the pilot and thought how exciting it must be. I don’t think it happens any more, but I do sometimes spot them walking through the airport. I love every moment from engine start to landing, especially if I have a window seat. But then, I’ve been very lucky with smooth, safe flights.
      Thanks for you kind words about my flash.

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  17. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Years and years ago I babysat a little fella who was most easily entertained by going out to the airport and watching the planes come and go. Wonder why I think of that now?
    Air travel was not as taken for granted in the early seventies, and it was still an event. As children we got pins from the flight attendants (they were called stewardesses then). I was disappointed, confused, indignant, when my brothers got captains wings and mine said stewardess. Nobody could explain that to me to my satisfaction.
    Norah, you landed the prompt again!

    Liked by 3 people

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      1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Thanks for the read. I never wanted to be a pilot but I sure was mystified that someone was dictating what I could imagine. I knew those pins were fake but she was doling out status and possibility thru those gender specific pins. It could have been an easy fix, but I the five year old was told to accept it graciously, it’s just the way it is. Harumph.
        Do you see play changing among the little ones? Are little girls and boys playing at different occupations and roles than in years past?

        Liked by 2 people

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        1. Norah Post author

          How insightful are your words. “doling out status and possibility thru those gender specific pins”. It’s a terrific phrase. I think you should hold onto it.
          I haven’t had much to do with children’s play over recent years, other than that of my two grandchildren. Sadly, I think they have undergone more social conditioning than the parents would have liked.

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