Friday, 30 November 2012


One of the most popular crazes of my childhood was conkers. Gathering them, all brown and shiny in their shells, was the start of the fun and then they had to be strung, taken to school, and thwacked at someone else's. If your conker smashed another it became a one-er but if it cracked a conker that had beaten three others it was a triumphant four-er. Some cheats soaked theirs in vinegar or roasted them in an oven. Those traitors met a stern fate behind the bicycle sheds in the lunch hour and never did it again!

(With thanks to MadHatter for the photograph)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


When I was at junior school just after WWII we had seasonal crazes. For weeks or months we absolutely had to have a hoop and we would run, beating it with a stick. Then the prized possession was a top which had to be set spinning with a whip and you must wrap the string lash round inadequate hollows first to get it going. (Did you know that the fascinating wobble of a top in motion is called "sleeping" - hence the phrase "sleeping like a top"?) This was followed by ancient, scratched marbles which were precious in those austere times and some children played at jacks but I thought that game futile whereas the others were meaningful and significant! What effect did these obsessions have on our adult personalities? Do modern children have these ritual compulsions? Answers in the comment box - please.