© Copyright 1990 - G.M. Clark & E. Dixon; reproduced here by kind permission


Children love ritual, especially that imposed by their peers or immediate seniors.

It was common in the Thirties to see groups of children preparing for a game by going through the ritual of “dipping”.

Children would stand in a line, or form a circle. One child, often the more dominant one in the group, would repeat a jingle as she touched the hands of each child. As she reached the end of the Jingle, the child touched on the last syllable would be declared “out”. This continued until one child was left. The game would then begin with this child as the first to start the game off.

There were a number of jingles in use some would be considered to have racial undertones in this modern period - but in those days it seemed of no consequence. Some were plainly vulgar, but children have always tried to shock the older generation,

Examples of starting rhymes vary from country to country, Even in a small area, variations occur quite frequently.

Starting games common in Newport Pagnell

Eeny meeny miney mo (would be called racist now) One potato, two potatoes
Eeny meeny miney mo (vulgar) Pinch punch
A penn’orth of chips Two, four, six, eight
Silk, satin, muslin, rags As I went down Icky Picky Lane

Eeny, meeny, miney, mo,
Catch a n**ger by his toe,
If he squeals, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miney mo

A ruder version went as follows:

Eeny, meeny, miney, mo
Sit the baby on the po.
When he’s done
Wipe his bum,
Eeny, meeny, miney, mo.

Children's Games - Eeeny, Meeny....(Vulgar Version)

This was current in the Nineteenth Century. One can imagine an older child left to look after the baby, and being given instructions about its toilet arrangements. The Victorians were very concerned about their bowels.

A penn’orth of chips to grease your lips and ‘out’ goes you,

Silk, satin, muslin, rags,

Rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief.

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four;
five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes, more: ‘out’.

Pinch punch, the first day of the month, and don’t return it.

Children's Games - Pinch, Punch

Two, four six, eight,
Mary at the cottage gate,
Eatinq cherries off a plate,
Two, four, six, eight.

As I went down the Icky Picky lane,
I met some Icky Picky people,
What colour were they dressed in?
Red, white or blue,
Out goes you