'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Games We'd Play



When I was young and on a car journey, if I hadn't been doped up too much with Avomine for my car-sickness, I would watch out the window of the car at the scenery passing, and often pretend that a lovely white horse (my imaginary companion) was racing alongside the car, jumping over all obstacles, almost flying over houses and hedges, and all because he couldn't bear to be apart from me while I was away for the day...

We used to run our hands on a corrugated iron wall on the way home from school, and avoid treading on cracks or you'd marry a rat. If I had a balloon I would hold it up with my hands and pretend it was full of helium like the balloon in 'The Red Balloon'.  In the 'dell' where we ate our school lunch, I would pinch up little piles of dust and make road lines with my fingers.  I'd make daisy-chains when I should be watching for the ball on the boundary on sports afternoons, and see how long I could hold my breath underwater at the swimming pool.  I would weave weeping willow fronds against each other to make a wall of a secret house, and tickle the horses' noses with blades of grass, and when we went to the beach stick bunny's tails* into the sand in rows.  

What games did you used to play?


19 comments:

  1. None of these, but when I was walking, usually over grass, I would pretend I was flying a helicopter over jungle or bush. To this day I have never even been in one - Dave

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  2. That's interetsting Dave. So is a helicopter on your bucket list at all? Even near the bottom?

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  3. Avoiding treating on the cracks in the pavement is one from my childhood. The rhyme went:

    If you tread on a nick
    You'll marry a stick
    And a blackjack will come to your wedding

    Blackjack was another name for a beetle.

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  4. Intriguing SP. I've never heard of that one. But you've reminded me of all the rhymes. What's the time Mr Wolfie, The Farmer's in the Dell, Oranges and Lemons... skipping games. marbles, hopscotch, four-square...

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  5. Games I used to play? Rugby, football and cricket.

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  6. Oooh, I used to have a horse companion too - only mine was a beautiful black called Hoyt (for some reason now lost in the mists of time). And I used to imagine mine was running alongside the car, too, jumping all obstacles. I wonder how common that little fantasy is? I used to imagine I was riding him when I was on my bike, too.

    Love the vid. I have to admit I've done the 'grass is lava' thing, and I still walk like that over cracks sometimes!

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  7. In my country, if you stepped on a crack you would break your mother's back....

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  8. YP - Good-oh.

    Jay - that's so neat that you did too. Perhaps most of us did! I never told anyone because I felt it was a bit soppy.

    Robert - there are a lot of violent childhood rhymes. Ever read Hoffman's Struwwelpeter?

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  9. Hi Katherine. No, I am not interested in riding in a helicopter unless I am involved in some sort of accident.

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  10. At six or seven years old, maybe even older, when summer's light still seeped past the curtains I'd look at the swirly wallpaper next to my bed. It was muted and blue and white and I'd see mountains and castles and snowstorms and imagine knights of yore and maidens in turrets and sometimes the ocean crashing on storm-ridden shorelines and then I'd eventually close my eyes and fall asleep but often those images would enter my dreams...

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  11. YP. That was a spell-binding piece of writing. Thank you for gracing my blog with it.

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  12. Reminds me of Jack Nicholson in “As good as it gets”, as a crack avoiding, stone stepping compulsion neurotic in New York.
    A stupid game I did was how long can I bike with my eyes closed. Mostly ending in prickling bushes.

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  13. When I was a child I was too old to play games. Now in my sixth decade I play them all the time.

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  14. The first and maybe the only text book at University that I actually read, cover to cover was one for Education 1 by a couple whose surname was Opie. It was about children's games and how they get passed on from generation to generation of children, for decades and sometimes for centuries. The kids pass them on without the agency of adults and they are often age specific, so there are games passed on by 8 year olds to the next crop of 8 year olds and so forth. There are regional variants of games, defined by subtle changes in rhymes, actions and so forth. The book covers skipping games, rules for tag games, the way kids taunt each other, all that kind of thing. I wish I could remember the title.

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  15. Ben, That sounds very exciting! Or maybe a little crazy... Are you still such a dare-devil?

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  16. GB. Never to late to regress.

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  17. VenDr. How interesting that you read that one, of all the suggested/ required texts...

    Try here for the name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iona_and_Peter_Opie

    Did the book make any suggestions about how these games were transmitted? Did it suggest a collective unconscious? I hope not, in an academic text.

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  18. Yes, it talked about transmission of the stories. the kids just taught them to each other as they played the games. Then they got a bit older and stopped playing that, and learned the next game off the kids in the playground,or street or park. Each generation of children assumed the games/ rhymes/ songs/ chants were new, freshly devised by them and their mates; they had no idea they were doing stuff their great great grandparents had done in exactly the same way when they were the same age.

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