Virginia Barton

1 June 2015: Little People


1 June 2015



There are sounds that catch you in the back of the throat. The three o’clock bird followed by a dawn chorus, be it ever so small; the distant rattle of a train going North, perhaps; the ice-cream salesman’s jingle, “Just one Cornetto,” heard across several back gardens.

But the one sound that gets me every time and makes me brim is the sound of children’s voices. That high-pitched treble, instantly recognisable, recalls I suppose my own voice and those of my children — merry, carefree, bursting with energy.

Whether from a football pitch or a playground, there is no other sound like it and it stops you in your tracks. Neither boy nor girl is distinguishable (until you see the red knees and the hands-to-ear whispering of secrets), just this unique noise.


Schools out! Hear the children laugh and shout!
Swings or swapsies, tag or ball,
skipping, hopscotch, games for all.
Sevensies against the wall.

Who’s behind you Mister Wolf,
Moshi Monsters, Jump the gulf.
Grandma’s Footsteps.

There’s a brawl —
someone’s howling. That’s a sly
swipe at Kevin! Felled him with a cry.
Thwhack across the cheekbone
just below the eye.

“Teacher! Teacher!
Kevin’s going to die!”


Here comes Teacher and doesn’t take Kevin by the ear, as she might have done in my day. But nobody was called “Kevin” then, and if we “played” outdoors it was in private, almost silently.

Only at “Games” did we let rip, on the lacrosse pitch. Bus’d out of London to Twickenham we spilled out, big white-legged girls, shrieking and yelling like prisoners on an Outing.


Yes, I was a little person once. Takes one to know one, eh?



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