Time to put down the iPad and go hunting for conkers

The Richmond Arms
, West Ashling

THE DISH DETECTIVE: The Richmond Arms, West Ashling, near Chichester

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Autumn brings out the ‘nutters’. For me, it’s a wondrous time.

The spicy fragrance of a wood burner, the russet hue of a crunchy leaf and the lopsided limp of a school child who is ‘shoe-clumsy’ after removing a lace for a game of conkers.

Bizarrely, the latter is a dying art as schools have banned the ruthless practice of horse-chestnut clashes, deeming it too dangerous.

I was a big fan of conkers as a youth and I’ve witnessed some epic contests over the years.

Who can forget the ‘Second Alley Crackdown’ of 1982 when Leggit Leishmann’s seasoned 32er was beaten by a young sprat from Milton?

Or the all-out stampsees that splattered the dreams and aspirations of Boney Burnett.

In fact, in all of those years there wasn’t one single incident that genuinely makes me concerned for my own children’s welfare.

Okay, you may get a crack on the knuckles or a discarded fragment of conker detritus may smack you on your size four Clarks shoe.

But seriously, do we want our children to grow up in a society that takes minimal risks and quashes enjoyment?

The school playground was the amphitheatre for the conker conqueror. Now health and safety has put paid to that enjoyment.

Some schools do allow children to play conkers, but insist on them wearing safety goggles!

Other establishments have banned the pastime because a selection of children have nut allergies.

Clearly anaphylactic reactions need to be considered, but nut allergies didn’t even exist 30 years ago.

We’re asking children to handle them, not gargle with them.

So the legacy stops with us to keep this great British autumnal tradition alive.

This weekend put down the iPad, log off Facebook and take your children or grandchildren to the park.

Kick around in the leaves and seek out a nice big, juicy brute.

Drill it, string it up, enjoy yourself and see who is rightfully crowned ‘King of the Swingers’.