‘In the playground at playtime, we invented our own games’ (18)
Alongside all the festivities Charles reminisces about in my first Fun and Festivities post, Charles recounts happy memories by talking about the childhood games he played whilst growing up in Sutton-in-Ashfield! ‘We children could play on the streets until bedtime, usually 8 or 9 o’clock. Games were varied and of our own invention, some probably passed down to us by older boys who, in their turn, had probably likewise inherited them’ (19). Like the memoir of Frederick Charles Wynne, Charles nostalgically remembers playing games, giving a sentimental picture of the fun and festivities Charles had a child.
‘One was ‘Lurky’. All the group except one hid themselves in various parts of waste ground or neighbouring fields whilst the one who was “on” counted up to 50. On reaching his target, he yelled “Yip Yip Yallah, if you don’t shout, I shan’t fallah (follow)”. Hearing a chorus of replies in the distance, his job was to locate and capture one’ (19).
Describing in depth ‘Lurky’, Charles recounts flawlessly the childish chanting that he and his friends used to do when playing games. This clear memory Charles has when thinking of games with friends radiates happy and fun childhood memories. When recalling another fun filled game, Charles touches on his working-class childhood: ‘“Shine a light”, played with lanterns. Real lanterns cost money, a commodity that we did not possess, but we had a remarkable talent for improvisation. We made our own…an empty fruit tin…and a piece of candle’ (20). Referring to money as a ‘commodity that we did not possess’, it gives a first-hand experience of life growing up early twentieth-century as a working-class child in rural Nottinghamshire! Although Charles and (assuming) his friends could not afford real lanterns for their fun games, they improvised and created nostalgic memories regardless
Charles’ special and clearly sentimental childhood memories of fun and festivities are also explored in a Working-Class Childhood by Jeremy Seabrook who claims: ‘Most people can recall beautiful moments of childhood which pierce the habits of living’ (118). Like many other children, Charles took his ‘habits of living’ and his working-class status into his stride and made an abundance of treasured memories which has given us the fascinating memoir from him that we have today.
Charles also reveals a more mischievous game played by him and his friends, called ‘“Making the Bull Roar”’ (20). This entailed them lighting matches at the bottom of drain pipes– ‘harmless’ (20) fun according to Charles! ‘We would stuff paper up the bottom of a house drain pipe and put a match to it…The heat generated by the burning paper, naturally caused a fierce draught of air to rush up the pipe and produce a roaring sound’ (20). Of course, not intending to cause any harm to others, Charles and his friends entertain themselves daily with different and fun activities fit for young boys in rural Britain!
Another form of fun was a family outing on a brake ride. ‘What we did get at our house was an annual brake ride…When the great day arrived, lunches were packed, everybody dressed in their Sunday best and awaited the hired brake, expected sharp after breakfast time’ (33). Although Charles doesn’t define what a brake ride is, as he continues to describe the ‘family affair’ (33), it became apparent to me that a brake ride is a horse and cart ride, an idyllic family outing! ‘I have ridden motorbikes and driven cars for more than fifty years and I still love it. I have a passion for nature and the countryside, but those who have never been on a brake ride have really missed something’ (33). Charles confesses to his passion for nature and his feelings towards brake rides whilst connecting older and modern modes of transport, this connection is an interesting concept in Charles’s memoir at it shows the progression in technology throughout his life.
Charles’s connection with nature is prominent as he depicts horses: ‘Two beautifully groomed horses meanwhile stamping and pawing to be off…When all were safely aboard, off we would go…those proud nodding heads, bells and brasses tinkling on their harnesses, great shoulders moving with the rhythm of every step’ (33). This meaningful description of the horses embodies the fun Charles had on his family outing and the type of festivities they enjoyed as a family, a warm and sentimental notion that runs throughout Charles’ memoir.
‘The whole set-up was romantic and endearing…a perfect day’ (33-34).
Sanderson, Charles Whiten. ‘Half a Lifetime in the 20th Century’ Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies. University of Brunel Library. Special Collections. 688.
688 SANDERSON, Charles Whiten, ‘Half a Lifetime in the 20th Century: A Book of Memoirs’, TS, pp.115 (c.78,000 words). Extracts published in Mansfield and North Nottinghamshire Chronicle Advertiser (Chad), 13 March – 31 July 1980 (Sutton-in-Ashfield Library). Brunel University Library.
 Seabrook, Jeremy. Working-Class Childhood. Southampton: The Camelot Press Ltd, 1982.
Wynne, Frederick Charles. ‘Old Pompey and Other Places’. Burnett Archive of Working class Autobiographies. Brunel University Library. Special Collection, 2:08
Daish, Lucy. ‘Frederick Charles Wynne: Fun and Festivities (Part One)’. 18 April 2018. Writing Lives. Web Accessed 20 April 2018
‘Horses’ by Richard Beavis (1824-1896). Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum. https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/horses-58189/view_as/grid/search/keyword:horses/page/1
‘Landscape with Playing Children’ by Gyula Sajó (1918–1989). Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens. https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/landscape-with-playing-children-35191/view_as/grid/search/keyword:children-playing-297403/page/1