Childhood Pastimes

This is one of my favourite childhood pictures; my schoolmates and I ready to galumph our way through various maypole dances. I am the one kneeling, front far right. It may be in black and white but I vividly remember my dress and matching bow were in yellow nylon and my mother had permed my hair especially for the occasion. Delightful.

It is thought the first maypole dance originated as part of Germanic pagan fertility rituals so getting a load of young girls to dance around a phallic symbol seems rather creepy in the cold light of day. But we - nor our parents - knew anything about these connotations - it was nothing more than an opportunity to show off our nifty footwork while winding coloured ribbons around a pole.

I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere as a child and went to the village school where our pleasures were simple - putting teachers in wicker men and burning them alive, running around forests with stags' antlers o n our head and sacrificing the runt of the class to the goddess of the moon. The usual innocent pagan rituals. I jest, of course. If we'd tried anything like that, our parents would have hoicked us out of the woods before you could say Satan three times.

We played games like tag, hopscotch and marbles. At birthday parties there was musical chairs, pass the parcel and pin the tail on the donkey.

It was all a far cry of what goes on in today's playgrounds where - if you believe internet news - they play games like Spot the Drug Dealer (he's the 12-year-old with the sunglasses and bulging pockets), Mug The Old Lady, Catwalk Queen (you're not allowed to play unless you're a Size Zero-Zero) and Reality TV Star (you're not allowed to play unless you have an air of desperation and an IQ below 80).

I think I prefer pin the tail on the donkey.

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  1. We did the May Pole thing too, don't remember when it stopped. Had no idea of the origins, nor would I have understood anyway.

    Yeah, birthday parties were friends, cake and games at the home of the birthday boy (no girls at our parties). Only the birthday boy got presents.

    When my youngest was of party age, the parties were all at special venues (omg, kill me fast Chucky Cheese) one more expensive than the other and every child went home with an expensive but mostly worthless Goody Bag. If you went the old fashion at home way, people would talk.

    We do forget the bad stuff from the Good Old Days, but they were simpler times and there is much that I miss.

  2. I've only ever seen the May Pole thing on TV. We didn't do that sort of thing when I was a kid. I was actually on an elementary school playground last week, and it looked a lot like what I remember from my childhood. A bunch of kids playing kickball. Tetherball. Just general running around.

  3. That is a sweet photo. I prefer the old fashioned games too.

  4. I was a boring child, I sat around reading books instead of playing games.