Opie collection of children's games & songs

Interview with Gracie Fields recalling children's games and songs from her childhood

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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

    Capri, Italy

  • Interviewees

    Fields, Gracie (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 1. 00:00:00 - 00:13:09. This recording, taped in Capri, Italy, contains an interview with Gracie Fields, aged 76. Throughout the recording, Gracie recalls her childhood, including the games that she enjoyed playing and particular incidents that occurred. Gracie initially discusses games and toys that she played with as a child. These include 'Jacks and Dobbers' which were played with small squares 'like sugar lumps'. She remarks that if they could not afford these 'fancy ones' they would often use stones instead [00:20:00 - 00:01:00]. She also notes that she often played with a wooden hoop and was 'always skipping' [00:01:00 - 00:01:10]. Gracie goes into much detail when describing the different variations of hopscotch that she used to play. Alongside playing the more traditIonal version based on four squares, she also played a version based on circles. She notes that this required more hopping as you 'had a lot longer on your one leg' [00:01:10 - 00:04:58]. Iona asks if she sang many skipping rhymes or tunes. Gracie does not recognise many songs that Iona sings to her and notes that one rhyme in particular called 'Came the Duke' was probably  'too high class' for her [00:07:42 - 00:08:18]. She does, however, sing one rhyme that they used as a counting out rhyme when playing 'Hide and Seek'. The rhyme finishes with the line 'every man that has no hair, generally wears a wig, out goes she!' [00:05:18 - 00:05:40]. From [00:06:58 - 00:07:40] she briefly discusses a skipping game that she played, but explains that she 'always preferred playing where the boys were playing' and favoured 'the rougher games' [00:06:38 - 00:07:40]. Gracie recalls two incidents from her childhood. When discussing what type of games she enjoyed playing as a child, she notes that she was a 'tomboy' and was 'always playing where they do a lot of climbing'. One day, her mother wished to take her daughter to a singing audition in town, however, she could not find her. Eventually, she found Gracie 'in the middle of the wall' and gently coaxed her down. However, once down, her mother was extremely angry with her. Gracie laughs and explains: 'I cried more because I'd been taken in by her being so kind to me!' Later at the audition she was too upset to sing [00:08:18 - 00:10:30].She also recalls one May Day in which her mother decorated a broom with 'fancy paper' and ribbons. Gracie and her friends took this broom and persuaded one of the girls from a 'posh family' to be their May queen. They then walked around the town singing and drawing crowds. She recalls that they earned 'eleven shillings' that day [00:10:38 - 00:12:42].

  • Description

    Item notes: Interview with Gracie Fields recalling children's games and songs from her childhood. Speaker's notes: Gracie Fields, originally from Rochdale. At the time of the interview she was living in Capri

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