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A Dorset Childhood: Bully For You?

A Studland 24 Group Chief Scout writes:

Re-reading your recent article in which you make extended reference to several hallowed traditions and ancient rites, observance of which still mark the end of the Dorset year in many of our more ethnically-uniform towns and villages, I was set to thinking about my own childhood and the many hours of innocent pleasure we derived from games which appear to have gone out of fashion in recent years and are, therefore, in serious danger of being completely forgotten.

Chief standout, to my mind, is that old Dorset favourite "Roll fatty in the shit", in which a group of enthusiastic playmates would select the weakest member of the group and submit him or her to hours of gratuitous public unpleasantness and private humiliation. What larks we had and where, I ask, was the harm in it? Most of us had great fun and the few who didn't leaned valuable lessons which they remembered for a lifetime. [NB The recent pusillanimous campaigns against obesity could learn a thing or two from us when dealing with fatties and their like!]

A Dorset childhood in the 1940s was not always easy.

Even the bespectacled Professor Thrupiece (pictured above)

might have been the subject of jibes had it not been for his

self-evident greatness.

Of course those were simpler days when the absence of ethnic minorities and really poor people to torment meant we had only the estate "gypsies" with no shoes on their feet to pick on. Did we complain? Did we hell - we just got on with it and tried to find other ways of making our own entertainment. And find them we did! Remember "Dunk smelly in the river" or "Hang out specky-four-eyes from the window"? "Flick bogies at the kid with nits" and "Make the Girl with Braces Cry"? Hilarious!

So, I wonder, how many more hallowed traditions will we lose in the name of modernity, multi-culturalism and good citizenship? My father never spared the rod and look how I turned out!


Nat Front

Ex-Corporal Nat Front

Studland 24 Group Chief Scout and Chair, Campaign for the Reinstatement of Traditional British Sports

Our image of childhood and its timeless tradition of innocent play

is often rose-tinted, says childhood historian Di Storted-Lenz. Here a seemingly idyllic portrayal of maypole dancing complete with distracted window-shopping parents and a self-satisfied kiddie fiddler may hide darker truths about the real cruelty beneath the apparently serene and happy surface.

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