Alas, the Law Conkers All

As a child, I lived in England for a year. There I learned to play the ancient and venerable game of conkers. A conker is the seed of a horse chestnut tree tied to a string. The basic rules of the game are elementary. The receiver dangles his conker steadily while the striker attempts to strike his opponent’s conker as hard as possible. A hit results in another turn for the striker; with a miss play passes to the receiver. As you might imagine, the striker sometimes misses so holding your own conker steadily in the face of a whizzing “sixer” can take some courage. Fingers may be bruised.

Sadly for young Britons, the playing of conkers is being banned by British schools under an onslaught of American-like lawsuits. Some say the lawsuits are brought on by the legalization in 2000 of contingent fees for lawyers. Others point to a long-term decline in the tradition of the stiff upper-lip.

In either case, it’s miserable. What’s next? Will young teens no longer be able to enjoy a shandy at the local pub?


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