Wartime games we used to play in Hainault

Conkers was a popular pastime. Photo: PA

Conkers was a popular pastime. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

In this week’s column, former Hainault schoolboy Derek Hall reminisces about the various different ways boys and girls used to keep themselves entertained while the Second World War raged.

The games we used to play were brilliant.

We had One Chase All Chase, which was a game where one person would wait in the road and then 10 kids would run out and hide in different areas – back gardens, sheds, behind bushes – wherever we could find.

One person would then look until they found someone. Once you’d caught him, then the two of you would look for someone else, and that’s how it went until everyone had been found.

We also used to play Torches.

One person would wait behind and everyone else would run away, but they would shine their torches as an arrow so they could never hide that well, and again, the last person hiding won.

That used to be great fun.

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Another one was Tin Can Copper, where you would have an empty tin of beans or what have you, and you’d put sticks across the top of it, and then you’d cross the road and take turns throwing things at the tin until all the sticks had been knocked off.

Whoever knocked the most sticks off won.

Of course the parks were full of conker trees, so every year we’d knock down the conkers.

Sometimes we’d put them in vinegar overnight or cook them in the oven to try and make them stronger, and then we’d drill a hole through and use a bit of string and then we’d play a good old-fashioned game of conkers.

And then there was Knock Down Ginger, which I’m sure children still play today, where you’d run away from a stranger’s door after knocking on it.

Sometimes we’d hide up trees and run pieces of cotton along three or four different doors.

We’d pull on the cotton and they’d all knock at the same time,and then these people would run out into the streets screaming: “We know that’s you Derek Hall! We’re going to tell your mum and dad!”

It was all good fun, and quite often the adults were just happy to see kids still enjoying themselves despite everything that was going on.

We used to not quite run riot, but we all had fun. Sure, our football pitch always had cowpats on it but we always made it work.