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Conkers reclaimed

At last, a good news story instead of the usual elf'n safety gone mad nonesense.

A primary school in Norwich  has re-claimed conkers as a game for the playground. 

If you are an international viewer this may not mean very much to you but over recent years, the historic playground game of conkers has been deemed by some over zealous people to be too dangerous and then the urban myth syndrome that 'conkers is banned as a result of health and safety law' spread across the country. The furore over conkers started several years ago when a school in Cumbria insisted that pupils wear goggles to take on their opponents. This led to other schools around the country imposing conker bans on health and safety grounds. And it just got crazier with some local authorities  actually cutting down ancient horse chestnuts so that children throwing sticks into the branches would not injure themselves from the falling debris.

What is conkers? Basically it is a game for 2 people and involves threading a horse chestnut onto a knotted string and then taking it in turns to hit the competitor's conker with yours until one is smashed. The one left with a conker on a string wins. Kids have played it for generations and probably at worst have had sore knuckles for a few minutes. The zealots would have children wearing padded gloves and goggles or simpler for them, just ban the game.

Thankfully 'the government' has said that this attitude is nonesensical and that it’s just a bit of fun and part of tradition. If you wrap the children up in cotton wool they will never appreciate risk.

The school came up with the idea of hosting a conkers competition after realising that some had never played the game. What a great example of taking health and safety seriously but realistically. Good on them.

But has elf'n safety gone mad in another way to redress the balance of stupidity? The 2011 World Conker Championship (due to take place in Northhamptonshire) is reported as having been cancelled because setting up the event would “simply be too dangerous”. Not to worry, the newspaper article goes on to say that recent high winds have made it impossible to set up the playing area and marquees. Phew!