I found myself thinking this weekend morning, settling into a second sleep or waking from it, of a game we used to play in our primary school playground. (In Wilmslow, in Cheshire.)
The playground was asphalt; next to it was a grass field.
The playground was also the netball pitch, where the girls played during sport lessons. The field was the football pitch, where the boys played during sport lessons. You couldn’t set foot on it otherwise, except when there was snow.
On the half of the playground further from the school buildings we would all line up behind one of the side lines, except one person who was “on”. At the signal we would roar across to the other side. Anyone touched (“ticked”) by the person who was on became on, too. So the numbers in the middle became higher and the numbers running became lower and the runners’ task became harder. When the last one was ticked we started again. I suppose there was a winner, the one who was ticked last, but I just remember running in the crowd. I wished I did it still.
Did we call it Bulldog?
Sometimes we also played football at playtime. People, boys I suppose, and later even I, had footballs made of old socks rolled around old socks. These footballs weren’t much good in the wet.
At sport lessons Nigel Moorhouse, who was good at everything except swimming, and another boy who was the captain of the other team, picked the teams. I was always one of the last. It put me off.
(Playground, Brussels, February 2005)