Mask of sorrow all ends in tears after fun and games

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Mobile phones before they’re five, foreign travel, their very own iPads and pocket money paid straight into their bank accounts by direct debit...

Before you know it, it’ll be junior hedge funds and yachting lessons ahead of their post-GCSE Caribbean regatta experience on the I want, I want, I WANT IT NOW list.

Kids today; what an expensive carry on. I’m glad mine has got to 24 and is a fully-functioning independent adult. Hah, haha, hahaha.

Remember the days when we thought a high-tec toy was a talking Tiny Tears and the height of holiday luxury was your parents booking a Silver Standard chalet instead of a caravan? The sister-in-law and I got to reminiscing the other night about chalets. Mine was in windswept Berwick upon Tweed. I can still picture the brown and orange bouclé seating and the melamine dining table, screwed to the floor in case a scummy family tried to nick them.

She could never forget the Fitties holiday camp at Cleethorpes. Though for a reason which still causes her cheeks to burn with shame. There was nowt wrong with Fitties (apart from a name that sounds like a boot camp for fatties). It was pretty rock and roll to a nine-year-old from Wingfield. But the experience was forever marred the day she discovered (her sister and cousins having lost a kid’s ransom in the Penny Arcade) another slot machine – that guaranteed a prize every time!

She rushed the gang back to their chalet to beg for another 2p each from their mums, then led them to the amazing instant-win machine. One after the other the 2ps went in; sure enough, each time a drawer opened to reveal a dinky little box containing their gift. A surgeon’s mask! How brilliant!

Each kid hooked the elastic loops either end around their ears and headed off to play a very innocent version of doctors and nurses. It was some hours before they arrived back at their chalets hungry, tired, happy – and proudly wearing their masks. Then it all went wrong. Their mothers’ faces registered utter horror. The masks were snatched from their faces with no explanation. They started to cry.

It was years before she realised Dr White’s machines in ladies’ lavatories were not there to provide dress-up gear for imaginative little kids. Or theatre masks for doctors suddenly called upon to perform emergency surgery.