Monday, September 15, 2008

On forgetting how to have fun

On forgetting how to have fun

"Dad? Can I have a gun?"

And you look around with your child's eyes, and every boy you know is running about with a toy rifle or a cap gun, shooting the imaginary injuns hiding in a neighbour's bushes.

Back in the day, nobody batted an eyelid about kids with toy guns. For heaven's sake – I remember a group of us – all ten and eleven-years-old marching out into the middle of our street during the Queen's Silver Jubilee party in 1977, raising our fully-charged cap guns above our heads and letting off a six-gun salute to Her Majesty.

Try that these days, and you'll be eating pavement with an armed response copper's knee in your back. If you're lucky.

Even pointing an imaginery gun at the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition is likely to get you an ASBO.

Such is the fear of firearms this side of the Atlantic that not even toy guns are acceptable these days. Even sports guns for target-shooting enthusiasts, and more the pity, for I was a reasonable shot in my time, and can probably still shoot the nads off a fly from 300 yards.

I admit to mixed feeling on this, for once you've been at the wrong end of a pistol-whipping, even a kid with a toy in Marks and Spencers can make you jump six feet in the air. But when a nice man put a real, live AK47 in my hands not long ago, I was like a boy in a toyshop. A toyshop that sells big, spiky weapons that can kill people TO DEATH.

So. We went to Disney in Paris this year.

Rack after rack of toy guns in the western-themed Disney tat shops, but hardly a piece to be seen around the park.

"Dad? Can I have a gun?"

That's what my excellent nephew asked of his father.

"Tell you what – if you seen ten other boys carrying toy guns in the park today, I'll get you one."

We saw nine.

Out of tens of thousands of cash-paying punters.


We saw loads of Buzz Lightyear-style noise-making blasters.

But guns? NINE.

No gun. But a nice cowboy hat.

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