Boys’ and girls’ street games

In the War Years, British Summer Time added two hours to summer evenings, the government’s intent being to facilitate the harvest. 

It helped us too. Darkness didn’t fall until eleven or half past and the stretch on the evenings was enjoyed and appreciated by those of all ages. 

I seem to recall that it rained much less, though that may be the result of a fertile imagination or a flawed memory. We used the long, sunny days and interminable evenings to play a great variety of street games popular at the time. The boys played football at the gas-yard gates, handball against the gaol wall, rounders in the middle of the street, skipping with a rope (though that quickly came to be seen as a girl’s game and boys who skipped were seen as ‘cissies’). Then as skipping became part of boxing training, it was O.K. again for boys to skip alone. Boys also had marbles: we recall shooting them up and down trinklets; dislodging one inserted in a hole in the pavement with another fired horizontally from the ‘Butts’; lining up to take this shot was referred to as ‘Knuckling your Trig’.  

Girls made a communal sport of skipping, one at each end of a long rope while three or four of their friends skipped to the revolving rope and chanted street rhymes all the while. Many of these referred to future prospects of finding a life-time partner. All contained strong, hypnotic rhythms and it has always surprised me they were not ‘borrowed’ by teeny-bop song writers. Many girls’ games reflected their probable future domestic role: playing ‘wee house’; tending to the imagined ‘sick’; cooking and cleaning. They also like ‘dressing up’. 

While we were so preoccupied, the women folk and older children, the babies and toddlers at long last tended and ‘put down’ for the night on their straw mattresses, would pull chairs out on to the street, the yard, ‘the steps’ or wherever, and chat and yarn, and ‘have the craic’ until the stars came out!

This was a wonderful story on how the kids and parents entertained themselves in those days.

I particulary loved the piece about the game of marbles and I’m sure Tom will remember the other rules and phrases we used in this game.

“Knuckle out” When your marble was against an obstacle and you could’nt get a clear shot.

“Heights” Elevating your aim with your non shooting hand.

A pig’s knuckle was a style of holding your marble. Hinching was regarding as a foul (almost similar to a “push shot” in snooker. A wee dinger, this was your own favourite marble and a waterloo was a large colourless marble.

Then of course there were the games and rules.

Three mugs and three scuds (or whatever you selected to play) Three holes and three hits of your opponents marbles. Then there was the game of “Rings” were each player placed a marble in a marked out ring. To start the game each player would throw from “Butts” to get as near to the ring as possible. The object of the game was to hit as many of the marbles out of the ring and then hitting an opponent before you had another shot at the ring.(a waterloo was often used as the shooter in this game)

Yes indeed these games were certainly wonderful pastimes.  James Dean (Contributed)

… Street Battles …

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