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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on Muriel never skipped


Despite images on Pathé News of Lee Savold in training, skipping was considered to be an occupation for girls. Probably because of the singing; Lee was never heard to invoke "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" [1] when preparing for a championship fight.

Picture of children skipping From Kate Greenaways Birthday Book, London Frederick Warne & New York

Skipping was both a solitary and a group activity. A commercial rope was available for the discerning user with wooden handles and roller bearings, but Ringlets favoured temporary use of a washing line. Length was adjusted by standing on the rope and winding excess around each hand.

In full flight, ('Black Pepper' for the cognoscenti), those spindly legs, white ankle socks and pink plastic shoes (single button-down strap) became a blue of activity. Normally solitary skipping was quite genteel: "My mother said that I never should, play with the gypsies in the wood".[2]

Group skipping involved a much longer rope and two 'enders', or more usually, one with the other end tied to the fence. Speed of rotation commenced quite slowly, slap, slap, slap, while the queue of skippers tuned into the rhythm. Singing co-ordinated movements and tempo; skippers entered the rope individually, dwelt therein as a little group, departed individually, and rejoined the end of the queue.

Deceptively simple. It is now possible to expose the hidden truth behind this activity; a politician lurked inside the chest of each ender. Changing the speed of rotation, moving the position of ender in or out, and taking the rotation out of phase with the singing: could all significantly effect the enjoyment and apparent skill level of the skipper. Behind "I'm a little Dutch girl dressed in blue"[3] it was a harsh world.

Whilst inside the maelstrom it was not enough merely to jump up and down occasionally. "Bobby Shaftoe" and "Mississippi" involved set gestures with both hands and feet, all calculated to distract the novice. "All in together girls" granted invisibility to the nervous, whilst executing 'high water' was only for the ostentatious.

Boys sat around, scratching, displaying apparent bored disinterest with proceedings; but the first wisps of selection and display were abroad. A precursor to the dance floor, really.

Muriel never skipped. <Sigh>

Written by Smokey

"Teddy bear, teddy bear"
"My mother said that I never should, play with the gypsies in the wood".
"I'm a little Dutch girl dressed in blue"