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Letters:

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From: Eric Brennan by Email:

I've just been reading your tale in DIFFERENT TIMES about the game "Rally-O". We used to play a similar one, in Miles Platting, called Rally-Vo! when someone caught an opponent they would hang on to them whilst chanting" two four six eight ten, follow me to my den, one two three caught by me, Rally-Vo". If the captive escaped during this recitation they were free. Hope this helps, you have the making of a fabulous mine of information, Eric Brennan. Canada

Reply from the Website Manager:

An interesting comment, Eric (and your appreciation is much appreciated). I've heard quite a few local variations on the name of the game. For instance: people I know in Luton (UK) knew a similar game but called it "Tally-oo". Perhaps the origin of the name is from the hunting cry of "Tally-Oh"? I'm immensely interested in the children's games of the past (now rapidly disappearing under the onslaught of passive electronic presentations and ready made settings). In my book "Different Times" a whole chapter ("Swings, Steps, Slides and Skipping Ropes") is centred on the games theme; along with the chapter called "Ring and Pretend Games". Does anyone else know of other variations on the game in question? From the UK or any other country?

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From: Steve Jones by Email:

Looks interesting. Will get back to this site when I have time. Regards Steve Jones - Adelaide South Aust. (Great Grand Father Had a Mill - so the story goes - around Bury area?)

Reply from the Website Manager:

Thanks for the note, Steve. I hope you get time to return and plunge deeper. Bury was an area of many mills. But, like all similar districts whose mills once "boomed", most of them have now closed down and some demolished. The ones remaining have (wisely) been converted into useful buildings - some of them even into highly sought-after accomodation blocks.

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From: Eric Brennan by Email:

Further to the previous e-mail about games:

I remembered a couple more: Alla Balla Boosha, Who's Got the Ball. Also, I think one was called Horsie: Here one poor soul, usually the heftiest, was stood against the wall and his team lined up one after the other with the leader shoving his shoulder and neck into the wall standers stomach. Then the other team would vault on top of the backs of the team. The object was to collapse them. Regards Eric Brennan. Canada.

Reply from the Website Manager:

Thanks for your additional contribution, Eric. I believe the subject of how children play is of immense importance. It seems to me those first years of play determines social, emotional and physical development (a theme I took up in my previously mentioned narrative headed "Swings, Steps, slides and Skipping Ropes") It seems there's a great and spreading concern about the type of isolated play children now experience; and the physically inactive form it takes leading to obesity, with its possible affects on physical wellbeing in later life. Regarding your comment on "Horsie": It seemed to be a widely played game, as you describe, and involved a great deal of physical activity. I remember it as immense fun. Also, and as you point out, it involved close and sometimes "rough" contact with the other participants and demanded the develop of a tolerance in knowing "the nature of the game" insisted upon the acceptance of being "roughly treated" - which one had to accept without complaint. In addition to the beneficial physical activity the game offered in its immediacy: if such games were still played and their implicit lesson extended, as a principle, in later life, I believe it would reduce the seeming intolerance now widely developing about life's inevitable "rough treatments" and the concomitant feeling of "victimisation"? This is just a speculation on my part but one which I feel has some validity. I believe we are the product of our childhood and the form it takes and the lessons it teaches - and especially those lessons we learn in the important business of play. As the poet said: "The child is father of the man."

A note to any reader: Further comments on this very important subject are welcome.

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From: Malcolm Saville by Email:

Bill. Your web site is first class but I may be biased as I originate in Oldham and as a double bonus am the right age group to appreciate it My only gripe is that I hate reading from a screen so will you please, please consider having all the books published in paper back, similar to the recent one on Hollinwood Canal by Gerry Fanning. I really do feel that future generations will be gratefull to read history straight from the horses mouth rather than the sanitised version put out by some "professional historian"... Many thanks. Malcolm Saville.

Reply from the Website Manager:

Thanks for your support, Malcolm. I totally agree with you about the value of what could be called "direct history" i.e. the direct testimonies of people as distinct from the second hand constructions of some historians - as valuable as this may be in developing the wider, academic theories. Just think how valuable and interesting it would be if we had a written testimony of - say - an ordinary farm worker's day to day experiences - with the day to day concerns of that ordinary person - in the years immediately preceding - say, and for instance - the Battle of Hastings. However, with regards to your suggestion of publication in conventional format: This is not easy in this day and age, because the vast majority of publishers look for the certainty of profitability. The only way to persuade this profitability may be forthcoming - and therefore publication worthwhile - is if I receive appreciative communication of the type you have generously given. Thanks once again.

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From: Mike Bowden by Email:

My grandfather John Bowen DCM was born and raised around Angel Meadow and Red Bank.I have just flipped through the narrative about this area and so much my grandad used to tell me about was included. This man had more tales than anyone I know... We used to play a game called British Bulldog. This involved a group of about 10 or 12. One person would stand in the middle and the others would run past. The one in the middle had to catch one of the others stopping them getting past. The winner of the game was the last one to be caught.By the end of the game 10 or 11 people were catching one person: very physical, very rough, very character building and immense fun. Thank you so much, Mike Bowen

Reply from the Website Manager:

Thanks for your communication, Mike. It is interesting to hear of a person who also lived in and therefore experienced the area described in my narrations, and that he received the DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal). The people of that area were schooled by the nature of the area to be of the type who wouldn't be deterred by difficult situation, which would have deserved the award your grandfather obtained. It is also interesting to hear of the game: Children were extremely active in their play when such games were in vogue. It seems a general concern that they are no longer as physically active as they should be - this created by the setting of the many "sit down and watch" facilities present-day children have claiming their interests.

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From: Glen Aston by Email:

Dear Bill, I heard about your website from my brother, Mike Bowen,(please note spelling), one of your recent correspondents. Just out of interest, our grandad then moved 'out' to Blackley village where he became a postman and delivered in the Charlestown road area for many years. He was a great story teller and kept us entertained as kids. As for games, being a bit older than my brother I remember playing Kick-can with hoards of other kids of all ages. This was a grand variation of tag or 'tiggy' which was started by kicking a can. The person who was 'on' had to retrieve the can before being able to chase and catch the others. Thanks for the website - I enjoyed reading it. Greetings from Belgium. Glen Aston.

Reply from the Website Manager:

Welcome to this website, Glen, and to its Letters Page; and thanks to your brother for the introduction. Your e-mail again confirms the astounding number of highly active games kids used to play - with nothing more grander than a tin-can. Both aspects (physical activity and using a throw-away item - costing nothing) is a mode of play which children of the present period are being denied by the constant supply of ready-made things - this along with the denial of excitements involved in inventing their own games and rules. Recent research conducted by Kathy Sylva - professor of educational psychology at Oxford University - seems to bear this out. Her conclusion was: large numbers of toys seem to be a distraction and this makes children play less well than they do with fewer distractions. I believe the "making do with nothing" and the self-imposed and willing acceptance of group rules were extremely valuable social and personal skills - which the settings portrayed in my narratives readily provided the children of that time, out of necessity. Your granddad would have known all about this and about making do with "nothing". He and my mother were born in the same area and both would find it amusingly astonishing if they could hear that one of the concerns related to the present period is that the "poor" of our society are getting "too fat". Obviously, we do not want the malnutrition of past periods and that dreadful condition of barefooted children portrayed in the photo offered in my narrative on Charter Street. But what I think we do need is a sense of balanced perspective and an awareness of past-times may offer this. Thereby, and as a society, we might be able to devise a proper educational system which - perhaps - teaches "more" is not necessarily "better"?

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A note for those of you who may've read the appropriate extracts from the publication "Different Times"
A reader (Stuart Peers) sent the dramatic panarama - shown below - wherein Charter Street Ragged School (the building with the upper floor windows outlined in white) is captured in the centre of the picture along with the railway viaduct slanting behind its structure. The greenery in front and at the side of the building is where St. Michael's Church with its burial ground used to be. He also e-mailed the communication I've inserted below the photo - indicating why he has a strong (family) interest in the area.

From: Stuart Peers

I have recently been down to Angel Meadow, Charter Street Ragged School etc and taken a lot of photos. I thought you might like this taken from the top of the CIS building. I also took a lot from inside the Ragged School. If your interested get in touch. Cheers, Stuart Peers

Charter Street View

My Grandmother aged 88yrs, Elizabeth Peers, (formally Bradshaw) was born on back timber street in 1911 near where the CIS building is now. She then moved across to live on Mincing street and apparently she tells me that her mother either stayed or worked at the charter street ragged school. (she was born sep 1888 just off Deansgate) She would probably love a copy of this book (On Looking Back) or any other similar publication. Can you let me know the price . I am trying to trace a record of her mother at this moment in time and have been told there are some records at marshal street. Look forward to hearing from you. Stuart Peers.

Reply from the Website Manager:

Thanks for the spectacular view, Stuart. It certainly puts the extracts from "Different Times" in the "picture" - so to speak. You may be interested to know the mentioned book is now available. Details are on the home-page of this website. Good luck in your delving into the past. It can prove fascinating.

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From: Bill Murray by Email:

Hi Bill. Enjoyed your site immensely and will bookmark it for regular visits. Found it when I was searching the web for information on the history of the Royal Exchange Building. I am doing my family tree and have been told that my Grandfather died after he fell from the building as it was being built sometime around 1860 or so. Any idea where I can get some kind of info on it? Long shot I know but it's worth a try. Thanks. Bill Murray.

Reply from the Website Manager:

Thanks for your expression of appreciation. Regarding your research into genealogy and the history of the Royal Exchange: Try www.gmcro.co.uk (Greater Manchester County Records Office) and also www.manchester.gov.uk whose "image collections" contains an interesting photo of the building you mentioned - taken around 1900.

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From: Mavis Arnold byEmail:

I have just had a look at your web page, thank you for sending me the information. I found it very interesting. As I am writing our family history, going back to early 1800's, some of your stories and pictures were pretty pertinent. Look forward to having another look.
Mavis

Reply from the Website Manager:

Mavis: I am glad you found it interesting to browse the pages. Also, I am very interested to hear you are in the writing game. It is very absorbing and opens up many interesting areas to explore.

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From: Lesley Shaw by Email:

I have been reading all the comments and e mails with interest. Hailing from Moston in the 1940's, I played all the games mentioned, Kit-can, Rally-Vo, also Catch-a-girl-kiss-a-girl (speaks for itself!) and chanted The Big Ship Sails through the Ally Ally O - I think this was to skipping, but not sure to which ship this refers. As young children we were allowed to use the garden shed as a den and, and on cold winter nights, lit an oil heater and lit candles to keep warm. We dripped the hot wax onto the work bench and stuck the candles in - can you see any child being allowed to do that these health and safety days? The smell of candle wax still transports me back to that special, secret world. We knew what we were doing, knew the danger of fire, as everyone had open fires then. We didn't mind the cold, I suppose our bedrooms were probably colder in those days of lino flooring. We told stories, formed secret societies, re-lived our favourites from the Saturday Matinees - Flash Gordon was favourite, absolute magic. We lived outside a lot more then and inter-related more.

Reply from the Website Manager:

You describe a happy situation which has, unfortunately, been mainly lost to many children of the present generation. It is a great pity this is so, because we now hear horrifying predictions that children who fail to get the enjoyment and exercise they used to do, in the past, through their many exciting games and activities, will suffer later health problems as a consequences. One of the purposes of writing the book "Different Times" was to record a world when children lived in a way very much as you describe; and, I suggest, they were happier for it - as the enthusiasm in your comments readily portray.

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