The “Banjo”

The Banjo

Sometimes I wonder how or what we’d have done without our ‘Banjo’; our lives as children revolved around and in it, it was our second home. When we were not in our homes we were in the ‘Banjo’.

The lucky kids lived in the ‘Banjo’, those that didn’t were usually told to “sod off and play in the ‘Banjo'”. It was safe there was no traffic, when I think back I wonder what traffic on the street, in the early mornings they’d be the milkman with his horse and cart and the baker with his, the baker’s was the best; you’d get the smell of hot freshly baked bread coming from his van, and sometimes we’d be given a treat and a penny or two to buy a warm bread roll or small Vienna which we’d tear into straightaway, just ripping it apart and chomping merrily.

Once in a blue moon we’d get the ‘Tinker’ with his horse and cart and that was great fun, he’d sharpen the knives and fix holes in saucepans and fix anything else that needed repairing; and we’d stand and watch him at work, spellbound, he never spoke to us just mumbled away under his breath as he worked. Apparently ‘Tinkers’ had a bright vocabulary.

An expression that my Mother used quite a lot was “doesn’t give a tinkers cuss”, which came from the ‘tinkers dam’ this was a tool they used. They’d melt lead into a tin cup then pour the molten metal out over a dam to stop the dross. So we get a “Tinkers Cuss or a Tinkers Dam” .

I’m getting away from the subject again which in case you forget is ‘The Banjo’.

Without the ‘Banjo’ the game of ‘Knocking down ginger’ would have been impossible; who thought it up I don’t know and whether or not it was played on any other Banjo in England I’ll never know; it was an intricate game 😉

As you can see with this clip from Google Earth the name  ‘Banjo’ is very apt.

‘Knocking down ginger

This game was centred  around the use of a tin can, without which it was impossible to play, this game could be played by both boys and girls and sometimes was, Beryl Hayter, Barbara Thomas and Elsie Oakes would join in until it got a bit rough.

The tin can was placed at the end of the ‘Banjo’ in the middle and whoever was “It” had to stand there and the boy with the best strongest arm would pick up the can and toss it either up or down Langley Crescent as far as he could and then we’d all scarper and hide, and there were plenty of places to hide.

‘It’ had to chase after the tin can get back to the spot and put the can down in the middle. ‘It’ could be a boy or girl mostly though it was a boy, ‘It’ then had to call out the name of one of the kids and say where he or she was hiding, then pick up the can and sing out “‘Knocking Down Ginger, one two three’ hitting the ground with the can 1 2 3 with the call.

It was an honour thing, if you were called out correctly you’d leave your spot and go stand in neutral territory, (and this was important). The first one called out would be the next ‘It’ providing; and I’ll get to that in a minute.

‘It’ would sing out “I see Nicky Coster hiding in Barbara Thomas’s porch one two three bashing the can down and if Nicky was there he’d come on out if he wasn’t he’d stay put.

While ‘It’ was going through all those playing, and there could have been a dozen or so, those in hiding would be trying to creep down to where the can was standing so they could pick it up and throw it again and the ‘It’ would have to start all over again. If you look closely at the picture from Google Earth where the letter ‘e’ is, is about where the can was placed. Just a bit more useless information which I’m full of or so I’ve been led to believe 😉

This did happen on occasions, as ‘It’ would creep up the ‘Banjo’ trying to keep one eye on the tin can and the other searching for a hidden player. If ‘It’ spotted one then it would be a race to the tin can. ‘It’ had to get there first and perform the ritual  1 2 3 otherwise you know what happened.

Looking at this ground view compliments Google Earth it’s obvious that ‘Knocking Down Ginger’ can no longer be played here! Some officious soul placed a post right where the tin can has to go!  😦

Sometimes the game would last an hour or so then we’d get bored and play or act out something else.

All comments appreciated and acknowledged

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