We played a lot of outside games as children and
one of our favourites was hopscotch. In hopscotch
there had to be drawn with chalk on the pavements, ten
squares but squares that began with a single square,
then a double square, then two single squares,
a double, a single and a final double, all numbered one
We all had our hopscotch stones, which we guarded with our lives.
These were ordinary stones polished until they shone
and so, sped smoothly to the square we needed as if
they were on wheels. But you had to judge how much impetus to
give to the stone and that was the secret!
When you’d worked that out, you had to hop to that square and
pick up your stone whilst still standing on one leg. The first
one to triumphantly hit 9 and 10 and was able to hop to it without
putting a foot down through nerves or because you were being
heckled, exactly to that end, well, that was the one who won the
There was another game we used to play – high-kelly, which
was doing a handstand against a wall. You kept your head
up and stared at the red bricks until they were burnt onto your
eyes. To do a high-kelly in the days when jeans were not an
option, meant tucking your skirt into the elasticated hems of
your knickers so that you were always ‘decent’! As always,
with every endeavour, there was one little rebel who preferred
her skirt to hang down over head. Sometimes, you were the rebel,
sometimes it was someone else. But there was always room for
everyone – rebels and peace-makers both.
Hopscotch isn’t a game,
It’s a science,
A mathematical challenge,
An exercise into just how far
Your stone will slide
Over those ten squares
Stretching into infinity.
Most important of all
Is the application of logic,
To determine if this
Is an exercise in futility
Or if you have at last learnt to hop,
And stand on one leg.
© GWEN GRANT