Miles Kington: The hazards of Chestnut Horror

Children no longer bothered with conkers, marbles, spinning tops or the old simple pleasures

Share
Related Topics

The chairman of the committee, Roger Blewett (Lib Dem), said that several studies into the effect of conker-playing had been made but the medical implications were unclear. On the one hand, there were minimal risks involved. On the other hand, anything that got children out from behind their computers and into the fresh air was worthwhile.

Stanley Wirral (New Labour) said it was poppycock to suggest the risks were minimal. If you had a game where two children were wielding hard objects with enormous force very close to each other, there were bound to be injuries, not to mention the piercing of chestnuts with skewers, and the heating of them in the oven. Conkers was a health and safety nightmare and should be banned. Even the slightest risk of injury was not worth taking.

Bob Bellis (Old Labour) said he had played conkers as a lad and it made him the man he was.

Sir Rodney Froop (Old Tory) said he had played conkers as a lad, and also as a grown-up and a father, and it was the most tremendous fun. He still had a three hundred and sixty-twoer stored away at home and was prepared to challenge Bob Bellis to a match any time he liked.

Bob Bellis (Old Labour) said he was on.

Stanley Wirral (New Labour) said he couldn't believe his ears.

The chairman said that the survey had also looked into the effect of conkers playing on the horse chestnut trees themselves.

Victor Sketchley (Second-hand Labour) asked how the chestnut trees could be affected as the fruit was already off the trees when they were turned into conkers

Because, said the chairman, children very often tried to remove the conkers by throwing branches up into the trees and knocking them down, which had a tree-linked danger potential.

Tree-linked danger potential? said Terry Heather (Failed Tory Leadership Contender). What did that mean?

The chairman said it was one of those awful New Labour phrases. Just as the Eskimos were said to have 100 different words for snow, so New Labour had spawned a thousand different health warnings.

Stanley Wirral (New Labour) said he would not rise to the bait, but he would point out that Eskimo was a term disliked by the Inuits, as they should properly be called.

The chairman said he was prepared to apologise to any Inuit present, if he would make himself known.

Or herself, said Stanley Wirral (New Labour). Laughter.

No Inuit having made himself or herself known, Sir Rodney Froop (Old Tory) said he feared the committee might find itself redundant, because in his experience children did not actually play conkers any more. Whereas once up on a time the contents of a horse chestnut tree were spirited away to be turned into conkers, they now littered the ground in their shiny mock-antique magnificence. Children, alas, no longer bothered with conkers or marbles or spinning tops or the old simple pleasures. What was the point of banning something which had gone out of circulation? One might as well try to make snuff-taking illegal.

Neville Bungay (Lib Dem) said that he wanted to draw attention to a new video game on sale, which was called Chestnut Horror and was an electronic version of conkers. The basis of the game was to imitate the skill of conker playing electronically, but you could, if skilful, kill up to a thousand enemy by swinging monstrous sized conkers, which reduced your enemy to a bloody pulp and sent his limbs flying. You could also attach your enemy's lost limbs to your conker for better leverage. That was where modern youth was at. That was what the committee should be worrying about.

The chairman said that at least they should be thankful that no one had yet derived any addictive hallucinogenic substence from conkers. He proposed that they should postpone further discussion to another day, and pass on to the next item, which was the health hazards involved in playing marbles.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence