If you clicked the link to this article then you’re probably that thing which makes wine better and bread not. Older. You might also be that guy. The one who looks to the middle distance and sighs “Fi żmieni…”
The truth is, kids were freer back in the 80s and 90s. Here’s what they could do fi żmieni:
1. Walk the streets
Nowadays, no child is seen outside unless they have a helmet, protective elbow pads, a child-friendly smartphone and a Secret Service security detail. Back in the golden decades, children roamed the potholed boulevards of our nation in noisy packs, chasing cats and playing boċċi with gay abandon.
Today, the masses who attempt vehicular manslaughter on a daily basis have rendered the streets off limits to the Zaylons and Sheznaiahs of the present.
2. Get tooth rot
It seems that in the bygone eras, nobody gave that much of a shit about dental health. It’s a wonder any of us still have their original teeth, since any cents harvested from behind sofa cushions were instantly traded in for ice lollies.
A Fruity Blue was standard, Orange Maid was a tad more exclusive, but the loaded fuckers would go for the Strawberry Mivvi. Oh yes, you thought you were fly, with that mahogany on magenta bite that you could purchase with your extra 2ċ whilst us poor plebs had to keep ourselves entertained by trying to turn the ice lolly completely white with one long suck. Not to mention the almost forbidden delights of Catch and Mini Mint.
Fields, undeveloped plots and recently constructed buildings in shell form were fair game for the young Livingstones of those days. With scant thought for tetanus or the state of our trousers, we would clamber over walls and under fences, to play hide and seek in any available area.
Nowadays, entry to any similar sites without a hard hat and a team of Sherpas is impossible.
4. Go topless
The summer months would come and mums nationwide would heave a sigh of relief, because their laundry load was instantly halved. Scores of scrawny brown torsos infested the streets, as no male child under the age of 12 deemed covering his chest necessary.
Today, the ever-increasing lethality of the sun’s rays has made it practically illegal for anybody to leave the house without applying at least 4 inches of sunblock on any exposed skin cell.
5. Get lost
Nowadays, every human being can be GPSed to the nearest millimetre. Babies are born with a mobile phone surgically implanted into their hands and parents are publically executed if they are not aware of their offsprings’ whereabouts for a picosecond.
Dari, children would leave the house in the morning and, most times, return home at dusk, with tattered knees, sticky hands and future melanomas aplenty. Parents would raise a perturbed eyebrows if a couple of days passed and Jason wasn’t seen, but the police were only called if he missed Sunday Mass.
7. Bring home pets
An excursion into the wilderness wasn’t considered complete unless you brought home the spoils of the hunt. Caterpillars which consumed cabbage leaves and shat little green pearls, chameleons which were happily placed in balconies and which (obviously) employed their fabulous camouflage skills and disappeared within minutes, a three-legged hideous dog named Godfrey (after your best friend at school); all these and more were produced at the end of a day of adventures.
Nowadays, the disappearance of green areas makes wildlife almost non-existent, and thankfully most stray dogs are taken in by animal sanctuaries.
8. Earn some cash
The rubbish bins and beaches of Malta were rummaging grounds for kids who scoured the landscape for empty glass bottles. These were slung in a plastic bag, which was then delivered to the closest kiosk, who would part with 2ċ in exchange for every receptacle that crossed its threshold.
6 empty bottles got you a Coke, and you’d get 2ċ back when you finished it! This has all become extinct, as soft drinks now make their nest inside plastic bottles and aluminium cans. Let’s face it, glass bottles even tasted better.
9. Buy cigarettes
Every Sunday. Every bloody Sunday. As soon as dessert was over, Dad would turn to you, burp, and say “Mur ixtrili pakkett Rothmans Red.” At which point, your ten-year old ass would be pushed out the door and you’d trot down to the corner bar and purchase said box of fags. And nobody would bat an eyelid.
Nowadays, cigarettes are packaged inside mini-coffins, with lurid illustrations of death and mutilation printed on the surface and you need evidence of at least 2 post-graduate degrees from universities of repute to procure a batch of cancer sticks.