Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Playground and childhood games of old

An office game of "Knock Down Ginger" has prompted this blog post... (yes, we do act like children at work). It made us consider a few questions -  what has happened to the games of our youth?

Is British Bulldog still banned in schools? Do children still have conker fights in the playground? Do girls still go to school with pockets full of elastics? Does anyone remember how to play Cats Cradle? Is Knock and Run terribly frowned upon and why was it sometimes called Knock Down Ginger? Did anyone else play aye yaki 123 or was that just me? Is "nix" a term that is still commonly used today?

I did some quick research into the above and an article on the BBC told me that 29% of 653 school staff surveyed by the Associate of Teachers and Lecturers said that British Bulldog had been banned from school, 14% said there was a ban on conkers and 9% said no to leapfrog. According to Wikipedia as recent as 2008, in attempt to prevent childhood obesity, the schools were being encouraged to bring back playground games such as these however most are still very risk averse.

With regard to Knock and Run, apparently according to Wikipedia, "victims of this prank are not likely to call the police, but if they decide to, the doorbell ditcher can face charges of trespassing and disturbing the peace, though in the United Kingdom trespass is a civil matter and not a criminal matter so the police will not compile a case for a victim." Apparently there are many different names for this practice, depending where you live in the world. This year were shot at by a man in Kentucky so it's probably not advisable to teach your children this game...

I'm sure everyone must have a name for a truce sign, you know, crossed fingers when you are playing a game. It was commonly used at my school when you needed to stop for some reason and we called it "nix". I'm led to believe that what you call it depends on where you live. My boss told me he called it "barley" and I laughed at him as it seemed so airy-fairy but according to Wikipedia this used to be prevalent in Scotland, the Lake District, Wales and of course the West Midlands where we live. So that told me. Other commonly used terms were crosses, cree, bars, scribs, squibs, keppies, locks, peas, finns and pax. None of which I'd ever heard before today.

All this talk of playground games made me think of the some of the rhymes we used to sing, which looking back now were highly inappropriate for girls of 7 or 8 to be singing, like this one

When Susie was a baby, a baby, a baby Susie was - she went a cry, cry, cry,cry 
When Susie was a toddler, a toddler Susie was - she went a scribble, scribble, scribble, scribble
When Susie was a child, a child Susie was - she went a whyyyyyy? whyyyyyy? whyyyyy? whyyyy?
When Susie was a teenager, a teenager Susie was - she went a ooh, ahh, I lost my bra, I left my knickers in me boyfriend's car

When Susie was a married, a married Susie was - she went a aahh, unnnnggggghh, aaaahhhhh, unnnnnngggggh
When Susie was a mother, a mother Susie was - she went a bake, bake, bake, bake

When Susie was a grandma, a grandma Susie was - she went a knit, knit, knit, knit
When Susie was a skeleton a skeleton Susie was - she went a

Sheesh. With role models like Susie it's a wonder any of us got very far in life! 

It seems that many of the games and rhymes we grew up with might be slowly dieing a death which is quite sad is it not? I tried to teach my daughter Oranges and Lemons the other day and couldn't even remember the words so I'm off to look that up immediately and next year, I shall be reinstating conker fights - even if it's only in my own house!

Do you remember any of these games? Did you have different names for these activities at school? What crazy rhymes did you sing?  Would love to hear from you!

love & kisses
Mrs M x


  1. I used to love elastics - was crap at it mind!!

    We used Pax as a truce term.

    As for the playground rhymes, while I don't remember the one you had, we definitely had one that ended up in "ooh ah I lost my bra, I lost my knickers in me boyfriends car"!!

    We also had a joke about about a lad on a date with a (clearly rather easy) girl, phoning his dad for advice - ended up along the lines of "dad dad, she's opened her legs. Well put something hairy there. Dad, Dad, I've got my head stuck" Soooo inappropriate for 8 year olds!!!

  2. That's brought back so many memories - thank you! We said "barley" too in the North West. Had totally forgotten it until just now... :)

  3. I loved elastics. We also played skipping with the long ropes and sometimes double Dutch, French cricket, British Bulldog and stuck in the mud.

    We also did lots of clapping and rhyming games.

    I can't remember our truce term. Probably I just cried and said I would dob on them if they didn't stop!

  4. We sand:

    I went to Chinese restaraunt
    To buy a loaf of bread bread bread,
    They wrapped it up in a five pound note
    And this is what they said said said

    My name is Elvis Preseley
    Girls are sexy
    Sitting in the back seat
    Drinking pepsi
    Had a baby
    In the navy
    Knickers on the back seat - nudge nudge!

    There was also one that included
    "Ooh, Aah, lost my bra, left my knickers in my boyfriend's car..." but it wasn't the same as yours!

    We played Ackey Ackey 123 or Forty-forty-in, and crossed fingers were nix or pax.

    There was also a very inappropriate joke going around when I was about 10 about a little girl with an unfortunate name, but I didn't understand what was funny about Fukurada... Or about the fact that the protagonist was already doing it as hard as he could...

    I grew up in Stafford by the way!

  5. Playground equipment has evolved to make things more fun for kids. Wilkins Solutions provides playground equipment in Orlando for schools, hotels, apartments and more. playgorund equipment Orlando.

  6. hello!,I love your writing very much! share we keep up a correspondence more approximately your article on AOL?
    I need a specialist in this space to unravel my problem.
    May be that's you! Looking forward to look you.

    My homepage: pokemon da terra


I always like to hear your thoughts, so please do leave a comment!