5 Things Only A British School Kid Would Know

Conkers, in the wild

Conkers, in the wild

Kids, as the old TV show claimed, say the darndest things. They also play the darndest games, make up the darndest tricks, find the darndest uses for stuff that falls from trees and, in one disturbing example, turn a campaign for understanding and tolerance into the darndest playground insult.

How to play British Bulldog(s)
Think of this as Dodgeball without the ball. You have a big square of playground, and everyone lines up on one side. Someone is nominated the ‘bulldog’ and they patrol the area in the middle. Your job is to get from one side to the other without being caught. To catch you, the bulldog has to cling onto your shoulders and shout “British bulldog one, two, three!” and this confers their bulldog powers onto you. Then you both go off hunting other people, until everyone is out.

Naturally, the game can become heated and in some cases, violent. Some schools no longer allow it to be played, and the playground rumor mill states that this is become someone died. Or had a leg broken off.

Note: if you went to school in Rhode Island in the ’60s, you may remember a game called “Cock-a-Rooster,” which is apparently much the same.

To Be Wary Of ‘The Bumps’
It’s your birthday! Hurray! Let’s all gather round and sing that song about it being your birthday – the one that is the subject of those strict copyright laws, although those are being challenged now – oh and when we’ve finished singing, we’re going to surround you, knock you over, grab you by each of your four limbs and pull you into the air, so that your waist shoots upwards like the middle of a parachute, and we’ll do that one time for every year you have been alive, “and one for luck.”

That is the bumps. Fear it.

The rules of Conkers
Take the nut of a horse chestnut tree out of its spiny bed. Now drill a hole in it and jam a shoelace through the middle, tying a knot underneath so that it doesn’t slip off. Congratulations, you have now primed your conker for action. Now before you start, watch this instructional video presentation:

Approach a friend with a similarly ready weapon, and assume the stance.

Note: do not be tempted to cheat, especially not the pig thing.

The Correct Answer To The Question: “Are You A Benny Tied To A Tree?”
There is no correct answer. No one will say yes to this question, and if they say no, the person asking it gets to point and shout “URR! BENNY ON THE LOOSE!”

Who Joey Deacon Is
If you grew up in the 1970s, and watched the TV show Blue Peter, you knew who Joey Deacon was. He was the figurehead of a well-meaning campaign they ran to highlight the problems facing people with cerebral palsy, and to raise funds for a charity which was, at the time, called The Spastics Society (it’s now called Scope). Unfortunately, schoolkids are notoriously bad at handling disability issues with any form of sensitivity, so the name Joey Deacon very quickly became schoolyard shorthand for someone who is a bit dim. The full effect also involves sticking your tongue in front of your bottom teeth – just like John Lennon liked to do – and intoning, doltishly “durr! Joey!”

It is a mark of no progress whatsoever that this insult has since been replaced with the word gay. Kids, eh?

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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