So there we were, standing in the market, miming throwing tennis balls against a wall and trying to remember the rhyme that went with it. Anyone watching us would have thought we had gone completely bonkers! (as opposed to just slightly bonkers – as they already know we are)
All this began with a song I’d heard on the car radio on the way in, it wasn’t one of those ‘game rhymes’ but it had triggered off one of in my mind – or rather a snatch of it and I asked Anthea if she knew what the rest of it was.
It wasn’t long before we were reminiscing about other playground games from our (long ago) youth. Unlike hopscotch, which is ‘institutionalised’ in primary schools by having neat grids painted on the playgrounds, ( where we’d had to find a stone that could scratched a line, or a nub of chalk) I suspect that many playground games that we played may have died out.
How about this one? Do you remember ‘ The big ship sails through the alley alley oo, the alley alley oo, the alley alley oo, on the first day of September ‘ ? Played by a chain of children, one with her hand pressed up against a wall, the child at other end of the chain leads under the arm against the wall, then under the next pair, and so on until the whole group is knotted up, then to the continuing refrain, they un-sew themselves. (or all fall over – depending on where you came from) Having looked it up since, I find it is thought to be one of the last survivors of the ancient ‘thread-the-needle’ dance games. I wonder if it still surviving?
Clapping games were also popular in our small rural primary school. The clapping game ‘Have you ever, ever, ever, in your long legged life seen a long legged sailor with a long legged wife?’ was the rhyme I was trying to remember, as we also played it as a ball game, juggling a pair of tennis balls, bouncing them off the wall and doing a ‘drop, spin, catch’ on every ‘long legged life’ part.
And I can’t go without mentioning skipping games – particularly the ‘long rope’ games requiring two ‘turners’, one at either end – and usually a queue of children ready to jump in at their turn. ‘Keep the kettle boiling, never let it stop’ – w here you must jump into the rope at ‘keep’ and out of the rope at ‘stop’ edging your way forward on the skips so that the next person has room to jump in. Anyone missing the beat takes the rope end. Or ‘Salt, Vinegar, Mustard, PEPPER’ – where the first 3 words have leisurely two jump skips and at ‘pepper’ the rope is spun really fast. When you trip up you take the rope end and the turner joins the skipping.
You know, we really did ‘make our own fun’ back then. A long length of heavy rope, a few tennis balls or even just a wall and we could fill every playtime with fun.
What games do you remember?
How many do you know of that are still being played by the primary age children of today?
Do share – you know I love to hear from you all!