Finger Thumber Dumber Little Granny
I was chatting the other day (on Twitter, not that that matters) about street games we used to play as children, back in the days when only one person on the street actually had a car (an Austin A30). No one but me had ever heard of one of my favourite games – Finger Thumber Dumber Little Granny.
The gang of kids divided into two teams, via picksies. One player of the defending team was Cush, and stood against the wall. His* teammates bent down, the first with his head in the cush’s stomach, the others in a line behind to form a line of backs. The other team would, one by one, run up behind and leap onto the backs of those bending, trying to make them collapse. If they did succumb, the leaping team ‘won’ and got to inflict the punishment again. If the defenders stood strong, the leader of the leapers would shout “Finger thumber dumber little granny!” and hold up either a forefinger, thumb, fist (dumber) or little finger (little granny). One of those bent over would have to guess which he held up, ostensibly unaided by the Cush, although I’m sure Steve Maltby cheated sometimes. If the guess was wrong, the leapers got to go again. If right, the defenders got their turn at inflicting pain and suffering on their playmates. It was a remarkably sophisticated in a satisfyingly violent way. I always wanted to be on Alan Bower’s team as he weighed about the same as the weekly pop lorry and was an expert at collapsing opponents.
Extensive research (I Googled) shows that as early as the 1500s, children in Europe and the Near East played “Bucca Bucca quot sunt hic?” which name lives on in the States as ‘Buck Buck’. Pieter Bruegel’s painting “Children’s Games” (1560) depicts children playing a variant of the game (bottom right of the painting).
*for some reason girls never wanted to play this