Opie collection of children's games & songs

Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie (part 1 of 3)

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  • Subjects

    Children's games; Children's songs

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    Opie collection of children's games and songs

  • Recording locations

    Coram Fields, London, England

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 3. 00:00:00 - 00:35:16. This recording was made at Coram Fields, a playground for children in London. The recording contains a combination of interviews with the children, several discussions concerning popular playground games, and renditions of clapping songs and ball game rhymes. The recording begins with a performance of a song that the children call 'Michelle' [00:00:00 - 00:02:55]. The song ends with the line:  'Boys have got the muscles, teachers got the brains' to which one of the schoolboy replies: 'teacher's got the brains? That'll be the day!' [00:03:19 - 00:03:24]. The children also perform the clapping song 'See, See my Baby' [00:04:37 - 00:04:56]. Another version of this song is heard at [00:10:38 - 00:10:56] and Iona notes the 'funny lyrics' which include: 'see, see my baby, come back and marry me, I've been here sixty years, please come and marry me'. A number of ball games are demonstrated on the recording. These include: 'Over the Garden Wall' [00:27:35 - 00:28:07], a song that one girl calls 'I Don't Go to Brownies Anymore' [00:29:36 - 00:30:00] and 'One, Two, Three, Solari', which may be a variation of the game 'One, Two, Three O'Lairy' [00:30:56 - 00:35:16]. Aside from these songs, the majority of the recording centres upon a particular boy and his discussions with Iona. While the boy comments several times on his desire to have a girlfriend as it gives him something to 'occupy' himself with and he hopes that he 'might strike gold' if she is wealthy [00:26:05 - 00:27:22], he also maintains that nobody in his school likes girls as they frequently spoil their games [00:23:41 - 00:24:33]. He exclaims that they are slow runners and always 'handball' the ball when trying to play football. This particular boy also comments on popular games played at school, mentioning 'Leap Frog' [00:21:03 - 00:21:31], 'Rock Paper Scissors' [00:18:55 - 00:21:02] and Marbles [00:25:30]. He asserts, however, that he only collects marbles so that he can give them to girls and receive a kiss in return. There is a brief reference to terms used for 'immunity' within a game such as 'tig'. Whilst one boy maintains he does not use such terms and just kicks his friends in the knee, another suggests that they use the terms 'fainties' [00:15:45 -00:17:45]. The children also discuss the topography of their play and one of the children notes that he prefers playing on the streets as 'at least you've got freedom there' [00:08:28 - 00:10:42]. He explains that the children also often play at 'Highbury fields' as there are tennis courts and football fields there [00:12:29 - 00:13:55]. He complains, however, that they cannot play on the apparatus provided there as the 'infants' play on it and they might 'knock 'em off' or 'beat 'em up' if they also play on there [00:14:12 - 00:15:11]. There is also a discussion between the children about Brownies. One of the schoolboys asserts: 'I think Brownies is poofy' and maintains that they do not learn any useful skills. At Scouts, however, he has learnt to navigate himself and other 'survival things' such as first aid [00:01:35 - 00:01:42].

  • Description

    Item notes: Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie. Speakers' notes: Group of schoolchildren at Coram Fields. Recording notes: Slight dropouts to tape extremities. Otherwise good throughout.

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