Continuing my occasional series, under the heading of ‘Play in the black and white days’, I asked Victoria to tell me some play stories of her childhood in a village in north Dorset. These stories I receive are reproduced here pretty much how they come (I just do my copy-editing bit). In this way, it’s always interesting to see how one play story snippet leads on to another and where the telling leads the teller. These are Victoria’s stories:
My earliest memories of playing are digging in the garden, probably from about the age of three: not only digging in the garden, but digging holes under the garden fence and passing things through to the boy next door, who I spent much of my growing up years with and we are still in touch.
I learnt to ride a bike around the age of four: my aunt had been an army wife and they had lived in Germany where my cousins – all boys and slightly older than me – had been bought a two-wheeled bike with wide white tyres. I remember it well. We had a slope in our back garden and I used to sit on the bike and lift my legs up and free wheel down the garden, and long before I learnt the art of steering I collided with the line post, the blackcurrant bushes, and anything else that got in my way: I can remember the grazes and bruises but was not one for giving up. I was an outdoor child and, if not outdoors playing, was a bit of a bookworm.
My mum bought endless elastic so that we could indulge in the craze of French skipping, which was great fun: we had skipping ropes and hula hoops. I had home-made stilts, which I spent hours on: always having been on the short side, I liked being that little bit taller and seemed very able at walking on them for long periods of time. My next step up from them was a pogo stick, which was most probably my favourite pastime. I would bounce away endlessly, clocking up hundreds without a break and driving everyone insane, but I loved it.
Damning streams, building camps, lying on your back in the middle of a field and cloud watching were all great fun, along with picking primroses for one of the elderly ladies in the village. A good game was standing either side of a trough and seeing if – by throwing large stones in – you could splash your friends on the other side. Climbing trees and playing football with the boys: there were more boys than girls in the village.
As a family we played Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and, as we got older, Monopoly, as well as card games such as Snap and Patience. I loved Spirograph and one of my all time favourite Christmas presents was a chemistry set. We did things like paint old tiles and decorate jars and pots with shells and pebbles.
I guess when I started comprehensive school I became interested in music, and we had our first reel-to-reel tape recorder, which my sister and I had between us for Christmas: we spent hours recording records and making up dance routines.
Then, to a degree, school took over. I used to ride my bike quite a bit and swim almost every day.
[A short while later . . .]
I forgot hopscotch: we spent hours drawing the boxes and playing the game. Great fun.