Two Penn’orth: Bonkers about conkers

You know the world has turned upside down when even conker fighting, that great tradition of every child’s autumn in school, turns into a health and safety risk. Since a young girl was struck with a stick after it was thrown to remove conkers from a tree, Nottingham Council has removed the conkers from the tree in order to avoid any further injury or similar situations. Council workers used cherry pickers and high rise platforms to remove the conkers on Queen’s Walk in the Meadows, Nottingham.

Michael Williams, the city council’s Corporate Director of Communities, has been quoted as saying that the tree is on a main thoroughfare, and in his own words is “bombarded with a huge number of sticks, branches and even metal bars.” A bit exaggerated I think. He then went on to say, “We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, [yeah right,] but after last year’s incident, and following some damage to nearby properties, it was decided to collect the conkers for children to safely pick up from the ground to avoid the possibility of further injuries.”
Not only did they remove the fun part of the action, climbing up trees and grazing knees to reach those nuggets of childhood fun, but they take the easy part of the game out, removing conkers from the floor too and trying to find the shiniest and largest and show off to all your friends.

It isn’t just conkers, though. In a bygone age, it was typical to see kids eating mud and climbing trees and this was seen as good for a child. It helped to create a healthy kid, good immune system, and teach them lessons, like mud doesn’t taste nice. Now if kids get close to a sneeze they are dosed full of Calpol (not that I was complaining, loved the taste of it) and kept in a clean sterile condition.

I fear the next steps society will take to make sure that injury is avoided – bubble wrapping children and swapping conkers for foam balls? It takes all the fun out of the sport and our childhood. Gone are the days of conker fighting being a sport of strength, soaking conkers in vinegar and roasting them to destroy your friends. This is the new age of health and safety children, don’t get too close they may catch something.


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