Thursday, October 18, 2007


Brigg residents who can boast conker, or horse chestnut, trees on their properties have a much more peaceful existence than they would have had 30 or 40 years ago.
Walking past one such tree on St Helen's Road the other day, and seeing fallen conkers on the path, brought back happy memories of games fought out in the playground at the old Glebe Road School, back in the 1960s.
The favoured spot to collect conkers were then both on Wrawby Road - near the Cemetery Lodge, and at St Helen's, the large detached house with the very long drive, almost over the border into Wrawby.
Back then the owners of both must have been sick and tired, each autumn, of being visited by noisy groups of children, some of whom resorted to throwing sticks and stones in an effort to dislodge the conkers...or (in a few cases) even resorted to climbing the trees!
Once the conkers were obtained - by whatever means - some players liked to soak them in vinegar and 'bake' them in the oven. (Advisable to wait till Mum was out!).
This was designed to make them harder, and super-competitive in our playground games.
The conkers would have holes pushed through them with a meat skewer and then strung up with bootlaces, prior to combat commencing.
Each game a conker won would add one to it credit rating - a bit like Battle of Britain pilots recording their 'kills' on the side of Spitfires and Hurricanes.
Conkers were rated in 'ers'. So a handful of successes made it a six-er.
Discarded and damaged conkers littered the playground, and many Brigg streets, for several weeks during the all-too-brief season.
It was good, cheap, and generally clean, fun.
The other day, a national newspaper carried a large picture of youngsters playing conkers 2007 style. 'Health and safety' has become involved and they were sporting safety goggles in their school playground, as they took aim.
What would 'health and safety' have made of Brigg lads in the 1960s climbing these very tall trees to knock conkers down to the ground?
To use a modern phrase....Don't go there!

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