Opie collection of children's games & songs

Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie (part 1 of 2)

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  • Shelf mark


  • Subjects

    Children's games; Children's songs

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    Opie collection of children's games and songs

  • Recording locations

    Chelsea, London, England

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 2. [00:00:00 - 00:31:46]. This recording, made at a public play area in Chelsea, London, in 1974, contains discussions between Iona Opie and a large group of children concerning marbles, football, play areas, the children's neighbours and the game hopscotch. The children also perform a number of skipping and singing games, although these performances are obscured by background noise and the noise of other children. The recording begins with a conversation between Iona and a schoolboy who explains to her the different marbles games that he can play at this particular playground. He tells her that the best surface for marbles is lino [00:00:10 - 00:05:00]. Iona then discusses with a small group of schoolboys the different sorts of balls that they play with. E.g. a 'training ball' and an 'FA Cup ball'  [00:05:05 - 00:05:45]. Another group of schoolboys explain to Iona that they play marbles out on the playground. The boys are then distracted by Iona's recording device and ask repeatedly: 'is that on?' When they are told that it is on, a boy remarks: 'don't tell me that's on, c'mon don't give me that'. Iona then plays them some of the recording back [00:05:45 - 00:06:27]. Iona finds on the playground an area where someone has written 'marbles' on the floor. On the playground is a hand painted in white paint on the floor and a boy explains that the children must put their hand in this when taking a shot in marbles. There are also feet painted on the playground that the children must stand in [00:06:46 - 00:08:41]. One schoolboy tells Iona that the 'pavements' on the play area are good for 'hopscotch'. He then remarks that a certain set of squares look like they should be for 'Jake the Peg' (who has three legs) and he tells Iona that this is a song by Rolf Harris on 'The Rolf Harris Show' [00:08:42 - 00:13:18]. One boy can be heard remarking that 'the church is good for playing war games' although they are not really supposed to play there. Iona returns to the topics of marbles and asks the boys where else they might be able to play this game [00:13:20 - 00:13:45]. Iona asks the boys if the windows around the playground are broken very often as there are a lot of footballs 'bouncing around'. One boy answers: 'not really', although another adds that there is 'this one old faggot […] who lives opposite, always sat at the window waiting for us'. They then discuss their neighbours in 'their block' (of flats) who dislike them playing ball games [00:14:50 - 00:19:00]. One boy describes a piece of playground that they play on called 'hell's scar' although another boy calls it 'the banana'. From [00:19:00] in the recording, Iona has moved location and is now with a group of girls. The girls perform a number of skipping songs. They sing: 'I'm a Little Girl Guide' [00:20:13 - 00:20:47]; 'Apple Crumble, Apple Tart' [00:21:01 - 00:21:20] and 'Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear' [00:22:39 - 00:22:48]. Throughout these performances, one particular boy can be heard shouting and teasing the girls, particularly is sister. He can be heard shouting: 'guess what, she [his sister] never combs her hair in the morning'. He then shouts 'you're as thick as a bunk Deborah' and 'Deborah, I think you've got a bloody big thicky head' [00:22:53 - 00:22:38]. ] Iona and the children discuss 'Spinning Tops'. Iona asks if the children have ever heard of 'whipping a top' and the boy shouts: 'I like whipping her with a whip' [00:24:22 - 00:25:40]. The schoolgirls ignore this particular boy and go on to perform a variety of singing games for Iona. They sing 'Poor Jenny is a'Weeping' [00:25:57 - 00:26:59] and 'I Sent a Letter to My Love' [00:28:20 - 00:29:28]. From [00:29:20] in the recording, Iona has changed location again but is still with the same children. She explains she is also with a baby who had been left crying on its own for an hour. The children then sing 'Who Stole My Watch and Chain?' [00:29:45 - 00:30:34]. The recording ends with a schoolgirl singing the ball game rhyme 'Busy Bee In a Tree' [00:30:44 - 00:31:08].

  • Description

    Item notes: Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie. Speakers' notes: Group of Chelsea schoolchildren. Recording notes: Slight L/R imbalance, variable throughout.

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