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Friday, 1 April 2011

First draft of Playground rhymes, games and words post - Work in progress


Rough Draft - I am publishing this now to prompt peoples memories - if any of these remind you of anything please add your memories in the comments box - I will update the post with it. Please tell me if things I have written here also occurred where you are.

Thanks! 

My primary school, Southville Primary in Bristol - © Copyright Anthony O'Neil and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licencehttp://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2256566

[I love this subject.  I can remember learning and repeating rhymes at school with no knowledge (or even interest) in where they came from - they are real anarchic little bits of child culture that get passed generation to generation.

It is true that some may have come via books, or TV, but my suspicion is that many are just passed child to child (or possibly adult to child across the generations). I love how tiny fragments of rhyme get passed across between schools as children move about the country. Some, such as the second one down ("Ip, Dip, Bird Sh**."), must be free from books, TV and adult intervention, yet it was being spoken simultaneously in different cities!

Bellow are a few that I have collected (warning - a few are rude!). If you want to add yours to the comments box I shall update this post.



Counting rhymes -


Ip Dip Do
Batmans got the flu
Robins got the measles
so out goes you
if it lands on number ten
it will be you
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


From Southville primary school in Bristol late 1980's

~#~

Ip Dip Bird Shit
You Are On It


From Southville Primary school in Bristol, also South Twerton Junior in Bath, late 1980's
 


~#~


Eeny Meeny Miney Mo,
catch a baby by its toe
if it screams let it go
Eeny Meeny Miney Mo.


From Southville Primary school in Bristol, late 1980's

~#~


Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
catch a nicker by its toe
if it hollars let it go
Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
You
Are
OUT!


The recorder of this rhyme says she never did know what a "nicker" was. Almost definatly it came from "nigger", though by the 1980's this was thankfully redundant as a word in Bath schools, other than this corrupted and meaningless remnant . Horray!

~#~

Ip dip doo
Cat's got the flu
The dog's got chicken pox
So out goes you

Mark First School, Somerset (2008)

~#~

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo 

In a public playground in Chagford (Devon) I observed a boy using this to decide which end of a see-saw to go - the end where "mo" was said was used - 2011

~#~ 

Eeeny Meeny Miney Mo
Catch a nigger by his toe.


Sadly I heard this one in 2012 in a Devon hospital by a nurse handing out meals and joking about the power she held to give people the meals they asked for - she quickly realised she had said something unacceptable in using the word nigger and flustered out in a hurry exclaiming that it was unacceptable because you couldn't say whitey either any more.


Taunting rhymes -

From South Twerton Junior in Bath, late 1980's
 

~#~

Oh Dear, what can the matter be
J**** and G*****, stuck in the lavatory
Been there, Monday to Saturday,
Nobody knew they where there.

J**** and G*****where two children, apparently unsuited for each other

From South Twerton Junior in Bath, late 1980's
 

~#~

Oh Dear, what can the matter be 
Two old ladies, stuck in the lavatory
Been there, Monday to Saturday,
Nobody knew they where there.


From Southville Primary school in Bristol, late 1980's
 

~#~

J**** and G****** sitting in a tree
K. I. S. S. I . N. G.

Again J***** and G***** where the favoured people that this informant remembers, but other people where used. This informant also recalls only later realising that the letters spelt 'Kissing'! I too remember this rhyme, though who it was used against I can not remember - it was a bad thing to be accused of Kissing!

From Southville Primary school in Bristol, also South Twerton Junior in Bath, late 1980's

~#~

Liar Liar
Pants on fire
Your hair sticks up like a telephone wire!

Yeovil 1980's

~#~


Liar Liar
Pants on fire

Bristol 1960's and 1980's 

~#~

Made you look
made you stare
Made you lose
your underware

Bath 1980's


~#~
Made you look
made you stare
Made you wet
your underware


Chagford children 2011

Oaths


On my mothers life

Oath sworn for deadly seriousness. As my mother was already dead I used this peticularly when I wanted to lie, or show off in front of my friends who where in the know...

Bristol, 1980's;


Crossed fingers

Luck, called Cross-keys in Bristol 1960's

~#~

For lying, escaping rules of a game and also for luck - Bristol and Bath 1980's.  In Bath girls also crossed their legs, and in Bristol to retrospectively get out of something one could claim to have been crossing ones toes at the time one agreed to do it...


 Clapping Rhymes

A sailor went to sea sea sea
To see what he could see see see
But all that he could see see see
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea

Clapping rhyme (Two children face each other - clap; right; clap; left; clap; together; together; together).

From Ringwood, Hampshire / Dorset border, 1960's and from Chagford, Devon 2000's


~#~

Chinese men are very funny,
This is how they treat their mummy,
Oo cha,oo cha,turn around and boot ya.

Clapping Rhyme - Exeter, 1970's


~#~

My boyfriends name is tony
He comes from macaroni
with a cherry on his nose
and ten back toes
And this is how my story goes

One day as I was walkin'
I heard my boyfriend talkin'
to the prettiest girl in the whole wide world
and this is what he said to her

I L. O. V. E. love you
I K. I. S. S. kiss you
so I jumped in a lake
and swallowed a snake
and then I got a belly ache.

Do me a favour
Drop dead!

This long song was accompanied by a complex clapping rhythm (two girls facing each other- clap; right; clap;  left; clap; together; clap; left palm up right palm down; clap; left palm down right palm up- repeat). 

My informer says she remembers the existence of loads of different songs, especially amongst the girls, though she cant recall them now. Usually they were nonsense words, that accompanied skillful and complex clapping or skipping rhythms.Once you where good at them there was quite a performance about them, you showed off to others who watched. She remembers there where other rhymes,

Interesting the last but one verse, with swallowing snakes, jumping in lakes and belly aches - was this some allusion to puberty? Or was it just nonsense?  My informant now thinks it was quite suspicious, though at the time it meant nothing - she actually assumed it was some sort of self harm!

From South Twerton Junior in Bath, late 1980's

~#~

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother, mother
For fifty pence, pence, pence
To see an elephant, elephant, elephant
Jump over a fence, fence, fence.

He jumped so high, high, high
He touched the sky, sky, sky
And didn't come down, down, down
Til the 4th of July, July, July

Clapping Rhyme from Yeovil, Somerset, 1980's .  Sounds weirdly American - 4th of July...

~#~

Tinker, 
tailor, 
soldier, 
sailor, 
rich man, 
poor man, 
beggar man, 
thief

Yeovil and Bristol, Somerset - 1980's - a skipping rhyme, also used to count things and tell who you would marry.
~#~

The big ship sails on the ally-ally-oh
The ally-ally-oh, the ally-ally-oh
Oh, the big ship sails on the ally-ally-oh
On the last day of September.

The captain said it will never, never do
Never, never do, never, never do
The captain said it will never, never do
On the last day of September.

The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea
The bottom of the sea, the bottom of the sea
The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea
On the last day of September.

We all dip our heads in the deep blue sea
The deep blue sea, the deep blue sea
We all dip our heads in the deep blue sea
On the last day of September. 

Someone had their hands on the wall and others went under them - Bristol,  1980's

~#~


Fragment -
If not, Why not
In a cup and saucer
Hopscotch
Jump for a colour

Half remembered fragment of a skipping rhyme from Yeovil 1980's

~#~

Fragment-

...See see 
My granny...

Clapping song in a pair - Bristol 1980's
~#~

My name is Elvis Presley,
Girls are sexy,
Sitting in the back seat,
Drinking pepsi,
Having a baby,
In the navy,
Do me a favour,
Drop dead.'

and as a variation at the same school - 

My name is Elvis Presley,
Girls are sexy,
Sitting in the back seat,
Drinking pepsi,
Huggin' and kissin',
Don't know what you're missin’,
Do me a favour,
Drop dead.'

Both from Bristol, 1990's
~#~

We are the tiger girls
We wear are hair in curls
We wear are dungarees, 
Down to our dirty knees.
La la la boom si eh 
How did i get this way
It was the boy next door
He had me on the floor
My daddy was surprised 
To see me tummy rise
My mummy jumped for joy
It was a baby boy!

Not sure if this was a clapping rhyme or not, but it has the rhythm of one!

Filton (Bristol) primary school - date uncertain - possibly 1990's?


~#~

Tip Tap Toe
Now Above,
Now Below
Give me three in a row,
Polly got shot by a UFO

This is a cue for the paper / scissors / stone game and is accompanied with a (very complicated) clapping routine. The clapping was done too fast for me to remember - it did have a bit where the fingers are  interlaced and the palms turned away from the body and clapped on those of  your opponent - who is doing the same thing.

Then comes -

Spider crawling up your back
Which finger is that?

The loser of the first round has to guess the correct finger their opponent is wiggling up their spine.  If you don’t then offer your arm and the other says -

Oh dear, You lose,
You get a big BRUISE!

on the word BRUISE the other can punch you in the arm.

Chagford primary school, 2010




Chasing games - 

Tag was called "Daddy-dun" - Poole 1940's

~#~ 

Olly Olly in,
the cat's in the bin

or

3 Erkies saves the lot

And "Getaway Games" where all played. (I actually pilfered this from another internet site, but I don't think they would mind). Someone from Plymouth explained that an Erkie was used in a game like hide & seek where you have to run and get back to the lampost/tree before the searcher and call it out.

Whitleigh, Plymouth  late 1970's

~#~

Ring-aring-aroses
a pocket full of poses
atishoo atisho
we all fall down

From Southville Primary school in Bristol, late 1980's


~#~


There was a similar game of safe bases (manhole covers) in Bristol, involving running around from base to base screaming, trying to escape the sharks. If you where caught you became a shark and joined the chasers. You could stay on a base as long as you liked, but the sharks would try and tempt you into the water by backing off...

From Southville Primary school in Bristol, late 1980's


~#~

There was also "sardines" where someone hid and everyone else had to find it and the last one to find it had to hide first next time.

From Southville Primary school in Bristol, late 1980's


~#~


Whats the time, Mr Wolf
with the wobbly tooth?

Tooth was pronounced more like "tuff" to rhyme with wolf but without the L.  This was said holding the 'wolf's' fingers.  The 'Wolf' was the person who was 'it' or 'on it'.  If s/he said "dinner-time" we all fled, if it was any other time it was OK. The wolf had to catch someone and they would be the next wolf.

From Southville Primary school in Bristol, late 1980's


~#~


One informer has a different version - the wolf faced away and everyone else walked toward them the number of hours the wolf said. she said there was some cudos attached to taking big steps, but also to not being caught. At the shout of "DINNER TIME!" there was lots of screaming as they ran away from the wolf... Whoever was caught was 'it'.

From South Twerton Junior in Bath, late 1980's

~#~

In and out the Dusty Windows was remembered by two of my schoolmates from Bristol - I cant remember this game or how it was played. One friend is now a primary teacher and teaches it to her class.

~#~

British Bulldog - one informer from Twerton, Bath remembers it thus in the 1980's - - Everyone would line up on one side of teh playground. One person would be in the middle. They would then shout "Bulldogs - Charge!" and everyone would peg it across the playground. The person in the middle would then have to wrestle whoever they could get hold of to the (concrete) ground and then pin them there until everyone else was safely on the other side.  The person thus court (often bleeding) would be the next person in the middle. Due to the shape of the playground everyone had to be involved, weather they liked it or not. There was some kind of honour code where the littlest ones where aloud to be by the sides where it was safist.  My informant remembers being terified when she reached the top class and realised she would be one of teh ones in the midle. It was banned throughout the time she went to the junior school, and took place through out that time, and often involved a teacher trying to stop it.

It also took place in our school in Bristol at about the same time, but ours had a slightly separate football pitch where it could happen, so I was not often involved, as I hung around by a big planter shaped in my mind like a horse and cart...  What I do remember of it was not a bloody as the Twerton version







Rhymes for fun - 

Bronco Layne had a pain,so they sent for Wagon Train.
Wagon Train was no good,so they sent for Robin Hood.
Robin Hood lost his bow,so they sent for Ivanhoe.
Ivanhoe was too large,so they sent for I'm In Charge.
Early 1960's, Exeter - It relates to TV programs  of the time.  'I'm In Charge' is Bruce Forsyth.

~#~

A pinch and a punch 
for the first of the month

Bristol, 1980's

~#~
Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.
[also herd as the bells of "St Clemons" or "St Clemens"]

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
YOUR DEAD!

Bristol 1980's, 1990's - I think it went like this - two children make an arch with their hands - the other children file through.  When it gets to the last line the hands come down and the unlucky person is trapped, their head metaphorically cut off...

~#~

Willy was a watch dog, lying in the grass,
When along came a bumble bee and stung him in the...
Ask no questions, tell no lies,
Have you ever seen a policeman doing up his...
Flies are a nuisance, bugs are worst,
This is the end of my little verse.

One informer remembers teaching her school mates (South Twerton Junior in Bath, late 1980's) this rhyme, given to her by her Dad, who is from Bath Ford or Bath Eastern area. Who knows where the poem is from. It could even have been from her mum who is from London. Anyway, it ended up in a Bath school.

South Twerton Junior in Bath, late 1980's

~#~

Would you run a mile
Or jump a style
Or eat a country pancake?

If the answer was "Country Pancake" then they had just said they would rather eat a cow pat!

Yeovil - 1980's

~#~

 
Order in the court,
The judge is eating beans,
His wife is in the bathtub,
Playing with submarines!


Plymouth - 1990's?

~#~

"Smell the cheese"  - this is where the fist is placed on the open palm of the other hand and offer to be smelt - anyone foolish enough to fall for it gets there nose flicked (or punched - I might have received the watered down adult version - not sure!).

 Chagford primary school, 2010
Jinxes -  

In Bath it appears it is simply "Jinx", but you have to say it at the same time to avert the doom.

Bath, 1980's?

~#~

In my secondary school if you said something at the same time you said "jinx.". If this was said at the same time you said "whoops you owe me a forfeit". If this was said at the same time it was repeated until one person laughed.  If this point was not reached then it would be the first person to say their own name who would loose... 

Bristol, 1990's
~#~

"Snap, Snap, Snap,
No Snapping back"

Somerset 2012 - This meant the 'snapping' (matching two objects and thus claiming ownership) had been preformed three times and thus could not be repeated.


Words


 
 

Truce

Self explanatory truce word -  Bristol 1980's

~#~

Parley

Truce word  - Bristol 1980's

~#~

Mercy Peanuts

Truce word - Pill Juniors, nr Bristol 1980's

~#~

Mercy

Truce word - Twerton, Bath 1980's
~#~

Time out

Temporary Truce word - Bristol 1980's

~#~

Failance (Fingers crossed)

Truce- Parkstone area Poole, Dorset 1940's

~#~

Knock knock Ginger

Pill, nr Bristol, 1990's - The name of the game where you knock on a door and run away.

~#~

Knock out Ginger

Knocking on the door prank in Pill, Bristol in the 1980's/90's
~#~ 


Mooching

Truanting - Bristol 1930's


~#~

Bunking off

Truanting - Bristol 1990's

~#~

Skiving

Truanting - Bristol 1990's

~#~

Mitching off

Truanting - Torquay, Totness, 1980's

~#~
Taking the air


Possibly a local group of friends phrase rather than a wider one - for discussing skipping a lesson for a smoke ("I will be taking the air this afternoon, care to join me?" "Err, double maths, yep OK") - Bath 1990's


~#~

Scabbing

Begging or asking for food off your friends - Bristol 1990's

~#~

Wicked, Sick, Dark, Well good

All words for good things in 1990's in Bristol

~#~

Lush

Bristol 1980's

~#~

Gert Lush

In "Proper Brizzle" (Bristolian Bristol), also in Southdown / Twerton / Foxhill / Snowhill in Bath 1980's and 1990's


~#~
Well Good
Good stuff - Bath 1990's

~#~
Ace


A good thing - Kingsteington, Devon - 1980's?


~#~

Dark

Word for bad stuff, after it had been for good stuff 1990's Bristol

~#~

Gay

A bit rubbish - Bristol 1990's (some of these children's words are pretty un-pc!)

~#~

Mingin'

I think this was in use while I was at school, which would make it mid 1990's Bristol - but the internet recons it only came south from Scotland in the mid 2000's...

~#~

Umm... I'm Telling!, Telling on you

Telling a teacher about someones misbehavior, Bristol 1980's

~#~

He grassed you up

 Telling a teacher about someones misbehavior, Bristol 1990's 

~#~

Spazzer, Spaz, Spazzing out

Another un-pc one...  Usually said the followed by the tongue being pushed into bottom lip sometimes with arms flailing with wrists limp and eyes rolling - a taunt for a stupid or emotional person. The school was trying to kill this one off at the time - I hope they succeeded. Bristol 1980's

~#~

Scabbing, A Scab

 Asking for someone-elses food, someone who would ask for others food - Bristol 1990's

~#~

Scavving

See above, but Torquay 1980's]


 

Map - Plymouth 
Map - Pill
Map - Yeovil

Some good books about this subject.  

Also, if by some miracle you read or here about this Iona Opie, I would have loved to use some of the rhymes you collected, but without being able to contact you to ask permission I did not feel that I could. If it was OK to use rhymes from your book here I would be overjoyed, and would re-publish this article with a much better scope for context etc.)- 

The People in the Playground by Iona Opie



Remember - as yet this is just a draft - please add your rhymes and games etc. bellow... Thanks! 

3 comments:

  1. Wanted to comment about the "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo" rhyme. Here in the states, Houston Texas to be precise, I heard the following variation:

    Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
    catch a tiger by its toe
    if it hollars let it go
    Eeny Meeny Miney Mo

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  2. Some of those songs are remarkable. You kind of wonder where they come from. They seem to be distorted along the way.

    The strange thing I remember about children's games is that no adult ever seems to teach them. I learnt games like "bulldog" from older boys, and probably helped to teach them to younger boys. Its funny to think of a continuing tradition being passed on like that among children.

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  3. Fantastic to think of Eney meeny miney mo happening in Texas!

    It is brilliant how these rhymes pass between children. I was thrilled when it dawned on me that I was involved in such a fantastic chain of oral folklore... (good name, wearelibrarian!)

    ReplyDelete