On Tuesday evening I watched the latest Rick Mercer show, one of my favourite TV programs. In this particular episode Rick visited a group, maybe team is a better word, of boys and girls specializing in skipping. Like so many things these days this brought back memories of my school days in Belfast . Rick was clearly impressed with the skills shown by the training of these young boys and girls preforming very tricky and intricate skipping drills. I recalled the incredible skills particularly of school girls skipping in the back streets of the Belfast. I say girls because it was considered sissy for boys to skip. Nevertheless many boys were tempted and did try, I doubt they ever became as accomplished as the girls but it was fun. The young girls were amazing, they skipped and sang or recited poems, not all poems would be considered appropriate today, but they were always done in fun. In the school yards or after school in the streets you would always find six or more girls skipping. The larger skipping ropes seemed more popular, while a girl at each end swung the rope four or more girls would jump in and skip the light fantastic with such clever footwork. All the while reciting words they had committed to memory. They laughed and played and were so fit and healthy considering the poverty and lack of hygiene found in the back streets of the city. Boys also played in the streets, mostly football, but using a tennis ball. We played headers with our jackets being the goal posts, usually two aside with the goals set about 18 to 20 feet apart. We headed the ball back and fro until someone scored. Sometimes we drew goal posts on the end walls of the corner houses with chalk. They were days when children entertained themselves with whatever was at hand, no fancy toys and no really suitable or safe places to play. We played in the streets until dark, sometimes continued under the street lamps. In the local Parks and Gardens we were mostly shunned by the groundsman, we called him the Parky. Football being the biggest offense when playing in the park and most games ended being chased by the Parky. Grand old times though and I still hold those wonderful memories dear to my heart.
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