It’s a great pity I didn’t take a single photograph of children playing traditional games when I was visiting schools as a young man in the sixties or later when I was teaching. I took it for granted that the games I knew as a child and those I saw in classroom and playground – skipping, two and three balls, clapping games and so on – would continue. But when I searched online for suitable photos to illustrate ‘The Milk Maid’ I could only find black & white pics of the 50s, 60s and earlier. Almost all the photographs of games in schools are organised, many of them with adults clearly in charge and teaching the children how to play. I don’t think the games themselves have quite died out, but they’re rarely seen and nowadays it isn’t the done thing to take photographs of children playing.
Not long ago my wife and I saw a couple of girls outside their flat playing a complicated clapping game with a rhyme I didn’t know. In the old days I would have asked them if I could write it down. Sadly, on that occasion, I didn’t think we should even stand and watch them.