Once again, the Brussels rumour-mill has been churning wildly and this time it’s concerned with the ancient British game of Conkers…

autumnAs summer fades away and we enter the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, small boys minds turn to scrumping apples (soon to be made illegal by EU dictat) and gathering Horse Chestnuts for playing Conkers.

The ancient game of Conkers, as played in Britain and Ireland goes back to the 19th Century.  Robert Southey mentions a similar game, in his 1821 memoirs but played with snail shells or hazelnuts. From the 1850s horse chestnuts began to be used, with the game growing in popularity in the 20th century and spreading well beyond England.

The origins of the name are uncertain and may come from the dialect word conker, meaning “hard nut”or may also be influenced by the verb conquer, as earlier games involving shells and hazelnuts have also been called conquerors.  Conkers2Another possibility is that it is onomatopoeiac, representing the sound made by a Horse Chestnut as it hits another hard object.   Whatever its origins, there is no doubt that it has been part of the British schoolboy’s fabric of life for nearly two hundred years.

This could all change if new Conkers regulations, currently being drafted in Brussels come into force.  The game of Conkers has allegedly been added to the list of activities likely to promote over-nationalistic feelings and patriotic fervour in EU Regions such as the EU Region formerly known as Great Britain.  As reported here previously, it has already been necessary to ban Dad’s Army, once a staple of the BBC Repeat Calendar ( as well as English Morris Dancing (

Klaus Stampitoutt, Commissioner for Recreational Games and Pastimes refused to comment on persistent rumours that the two-hundred year old game will either be made illegal or only approved to be played under strictly controlled conditions with players wearing full protective equipment due to concurrent Health & Safety concerns.  However he did point out that the EU already offers a wide range of suitable games/diversions for the young such as learning how to correctly fold the EU flag, guessing the number of stars on said flag, singing the EU anthem and cleaning migrant refugee camps.  “Nobody,” he said, “should be wasting their time on futile pursuits like ‘Conkers’ anyway.

Watch this space…..


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