Con­ckers not bon­kers

La Montagne (Brive) - - Corrèze Actualité -

Par Mark Preece, un Bri­tan­nique ins­tal­lé en Cor­rèze de­puis 25 ans.

I was at the coast with some friends, a few weeks back, when I wal­ked un­der a tree that, at first, I hadn’t paid at­ten­tion to. Then, I step­ped on so­me­thing and when I loo­ked, I took a trip down me­mo­ry lane. Con­kers, three round, of va­rious sizes, and a “cheese­cut­ter”. Fruit of the horse­chest­nut tree, we used these seeds to play what, with the hand slap­ping game, must rate as one of the most use­less games ever in­ven­ted. We didn’t have in­ter­net or mo­bile phones, so we played with what was avai­lable. The con­kers would fall from the tree in their green ou­ter ca­sing and when that dried, it would split open to re­veal the ma­ho­ga­ny co­lou­red nut. We would take the conker and drill a hole from top to bot­tom and pass a piece of string, ap­proxi­ma­te­ly 40 cm long, through it. We would then tie a knot at one end in or­der that the conker would be cap­tu­red on the string. Our com­pe­ti­tion ker­nel was rea­dy. Pre­pa­ra­tion of the conker was eve­ry­thing. The hole had to be clean and not split the skin as this could cause it’s pre­ma­ture de­mise. The string, ca­re­ful­ly cho­sen, was of­ten a thick lace as the less play in the hole there was, the lon­ger the conker las­ted. The knot was large and as flat as could be so as to not exer­cise un­due pres­sure on the base of the conker in “stri­king” mode. Cle­ver ow­ners would “treat” their con­kers. Har­de­ning in boi­ling in vi­ne­gar was po­pu­lar as was slow oven coo­king, but for those that were pa­tient, drying out the conker over a year was the best. Con­sen­ting mo­thers would help their sons, as this was a par­ti­cu­lar­ly mas­cu­line game, in this part of the pro­cess, and the fa­thers with the tool wiel­ding. The pa­rents would then quiz their pro­ge­ny as to the score of the conker, a “oner”, “twoer”; or “threer”... consi­de­ring that if their boys were playing con­kers, they were not en­ga­ging in less sa­lu­brious ac­ti­vi­ties. The ob­ject of the game was for one player to hold his conker at arms length dan­gling from his hand, whil­st the other player strikes the conker with his own. The roles are then re­ver­sed un­til such time as one of the con­kers breaks. Big con­kers clear­ly had an ad­van­tage but flat fa­ced con­kers “cheese­cut­ters” were al­so pri­vi­le­ged due to their sharp edges. The vic­to­rious conker be­comes a “oner” and can ac­cept a chal­lenge from ano­ther conker. If the conker then de­feats a “fou­rer” for ins­tance, he im­me­dia­te­ly be­comes a “sixer” as he ab­sorbs his op­po­nents re­cord, main­tains his own and notches up the vic­to­ry. Hap­py days. Ne­ver got past two per­so­nal­ly !

Newspapers in French

Newspapers from France

© PressReader. All rights reserved.