As a teenager, I was desperate to escape from my home town, a very small town in the south of England. I now look back and realise that I was fortunate to be brought up in a place where it was safe to play out all day long. During school holidays my mother would frequently say to me and my brother that she didn’t want to see us until tea-time and we were given a packed lunch and sent off. It didn’t feel like neglect! We were always with other children from the estate and would happily spend the day exploring the woods, inventing games, falling out with each other, falling back in with each other, and generally learning about life from nature. There were times where we undoubtedly did things that were “dangerous” like climbing cliffs but I can now look back and see that this gave me resilience and the confidence to be adventurous as I grew up.

The teenage need to escape was backed by the belief, gained from my earlier childhood, that the world was a place to be explored and enjoyed and to not be frightened of it. I am immensely grateful for that and to parents who allowed me the freedom as a child to explore.

David Johnson
A long way away from childhood
Outside Scotland

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David’s teenage need to escape