ALTHOUGH our four sons all left home many moons ago, and all have children of their own, you never really stop worrying about them.

These many weeks of lockdown have been pure agony for Mrs Hextol as she has been deprived of the company of the lads, other than flickering images on the computer in regular Facetime chats.

She frets about their jobs, their health, their wellbeing, and much more besides while I tend just to them get on with their lives.

I suppose it stems from my own childhood, when adults tended to be a little less concerned about what their children were up to. My parents both saw active service in the Second World War, which had only been over for a few years when I appeared on the scene,

When you have been depth charged by a Japanese destroyer, and strafed by German Messerschmitt 109s, the perils of everyday life faced by your children in peacetime tend to pale into insignificance.

My siblings and I used to roam our estate from morning until it went dark. Stone fights with rival gangs meant we would regularly come home bloodied and bruised, but there were never any recriminations, as fights were considered part of growing up

If one of us complained that a bigger child had hit us, my father would merely rustle his Daily Mirror, and said: “Well go and hit him back.”

I can only once recall him becoming involved in childhood disputes, when my brother came in with an angry red mark on his chest, and under questioning, admitted that he had been shot with an air rifle by an older boy.

He went round to the gunman’s house, explained what had happened, and the gunman’s father smashed the weapon against a wall, before giving his son a good hiding with the broken stock. No police involvement and no hard feelings.

When I was 13, my brother and I were bored after completing our paper rounds, and announced to our mother we had decided to pedal from Macclesfield to Blackpool, some 80 miles away.

This was in February, but all she said was “Just be careful.”

So off we went with half a crown each in our pockets, and negotiated the busy streets of Manchester and Preston, and got to within eight miles of the floozy of the Fylde coast before it started to get dark, and we decided to turn round

We pedalled back to Manchester and were fortunate enough to bump into an uncle who worked for British Transport Police, and he put us and our bikes on a train back to Macclesfield.

It was after ten pm and pitch black when we got home, but all our mother said was: “Have you had a nice time?”

I was still only 15 when myself and a schoolfriend announced we were going to hitchhike to London, armed only with a two man tent, a ten shilling note and for some bizarre reason, a cucumber.

Remarkably no objections were raised by either set of parents, and no inquiries were made as to where we intended to pitch our tent when we hit the capital,

On the first day, we got a lift to the outskirts of Nottingham, and pitched the tent in a field at the side of the road sleeping like tops before deciding the next day we would rather go to the seaside than London,

After a look round the city, we thumbed a lift to Skegness, and found a proper campsite, where a kindly family saw us munching on half a cucumber each and invited us into their Bedford Dormobile for eggs and bacon.

Lifts were in short supply the next day, and we only got as far as Leeds before pitching our tent on a roundabout in the middle of the A1, a course of action which remarkably drew no attention at all, even though several police cars drove past in the night.

The following day the first driver that stopped said he was going to the Lake District, so in we jumped, and found ourselves in Penrith, within walking distance of my uncle’s farm.

Throughout the escapade, neither of us had made any contact with our parents, who had absolutely no idea where we were and there was only mild surprise when my uncle rang the only man in our street with a telephone to announce we had turned up there.

“I thought they were going to London,” my mother mused.