Opie collection of children's games & songs

Interview with Rowland Kellet discussing games and songs from his childhood with Iona Opie (part 2 of 2)

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  • Subjects

    Children's games; Children's songs

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    Opie collection of children's games and songs

  • Recording locations

    Leeds, Totkshire, England

  • Interviewees

    Kellett, Rowland (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 2 of 2. [00:00:00 - 00:38:14]. This recording continues on immediately from the C898-18-01 recording as Rowland Kellett proceeds to discuss games and songs from his childhood with Iona Opie. The recording begins with a number of singing games and rhymes from Rowland's childhood.  He sings a song that begins with the line: 'I brought a penny blacking brush'. [00:00:00 - 00:03:10] He explains that his sister first learnt this song when in hospital in Northumberland. He has collected many different versions of this song and estimates that the song originates from the Boer War. Another song sung by Rowland is 'We are Three Jolly Sailor Boys' [00:08:05 - 00:08:58]. He explains that this song was played as a 'ring game' on the streets of Leeds in the 1920s.  Lastly, he performs the song 'Roman Soldiers' [00:16:09 - 00:20:57]. He suggests that this song can be traced back to 1691. Iona, however, suggests that 'so many people fight' over this song that it is difficult to determine its heritage. Rowland, however, goes on to suggest that the song may refer to Catholic and Protestant divides. Â  Counting out rhymes or 'dipping' rhymes are also discussed throughout the recording. He explains that when playing games such as conkers, there were no counting rhymes to decide who would go first. Instead, the children would say 'fussy go' and the first child to say this got to go first. The other child had to 'honour this code' [00:29:29 - 00:31:29]. From [00:31:29 - 00:33:20] Rowland continues to discuss these counting out rhymes and tells jokes from [00:09:00 - 00:12:15].  Iona and Rowland return to the subject of 'Whip and Tops'. Iona asks if he played this game during any particular time of the year. He explains that all games had a 'set period' that never 'deviated at all'. 'Wooden tops' would be played first, followed by marbles and then skipping. He comments: 'nobody told the children when they should start them [the different games], it was more like […] telepathy'. Rowland also describes other popular games. One was played with cigarette or 'ciggie cards' and was called 'Banker' and another was based on simply attempting to flick cigarette cards into a flat cap [00:24:30 - 00:28:26] He would also play conkers and briefly explains a term that the children would employ when playing this. The term 'strings' was used when another conker hit another and the two strings entwined. If this happened the player was allowed another go [00:28:30 - 00:29:18]. Lastly, Rowland describes a ball game called 'Fives'. He explains that this was 'one of the most arduous of games' and the girls did not play as 'it was a bit too much'. You would have to 'bash the ball against the wall' with your fist and see how long you could keep it up against the wall. 'Fives' referred to the five fingers on your hand. Â

  • Description

    Item notes: Interview with Rowland Kellet discussing games and songs from his childhood with Iona Opie. Speaker's notes: Rowland Kellet is from Leeds. Recording notes: Slight dropouts to tape extremities. Otherwise good throughout.

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