© Geoffrey Heard 2014
The kids in our little bunch of houses are always coursing around giving tongue like a bunch of ferals, one minute here, one minute there, and suddenly, horror of horrors, they have disappeared from our ken.
Mothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, brothers, aunts, and uncles call and call to summon them home or at least back to where we know where they are. They might return in minutes as a flying feral wedge baying like hounds in pursuit of a fox, or they might slink back in dribs and drabs.
And sometimes they play ad hoc team games. A favorite is "Tin".
"Tin" has got to be one of the great children's games. It is dead simple, it costs between nothing and practically nothing for equipment, it involves two teams which can be virtually any size from three up, anyone can play from quite young to quite old, it is non-contact (except for a ball, a store-bought rubber ball or a homemade coconut husk or plastic bag ball) thrown at you, it can be played in any space, it is fast and furious, and above all it is noisy!
The usual start to Tin is a loud and passionate argument about the rules and the teams. There are hardly any rules, but everyone loves to argue about them. When that is finally settled, the game starts in earnest.
Everyone gathers empty tin cans -- parents often save them -- and they build a little tin can wall. Then one team gathers at a mark a (loudly disputed) distance away. They have three shots at breaking the wall with the ball. If they don’t succeed, the other team has a go. Whoever breaks the wall (an event heralded with much joyful hooting) becomes the attackers. They scatter.
To win the game, they must rebuild the wall.
The defending team scatters the cans (an often disputed amount -- scattering the cans too widely is cheating but everyone pushes the envelope) then sets out to hunt down the attackers.
Their job is to tag the attackers with the ball so they are "out". To win, they must eliminate all the attackers before they have rebuilt the wall.
Defenders chase attackers and hurl the ball at them to tag them out. The attackers duck and weave, attempting to draw the defenders away from the wall and importantly, to tempt them to throw so that the ball ends up in an undefended area far from the cans.
When defenders get too far away from the cans, attackers dart in and feverishly build the wall.
The defenders, of course, are set on tempting the attackers to trap themselves close to the wall of cans where they can be readily picked off.
Action is fast and furious with much yelling and shrieking. With skilled players, two good sized teams of perhaps eight or nine, and a wall of two or three dozen cans, a single game can go on for a loud, high speed, half an hour.
The winners are get to celebrate for only minutes before the losers are screaming for the opportunity to exact their revenge. And it is on again!
As I was finishing this off today, Monday, the big kids were all at school. It was raining, the soft, warm rain of the tropics. And two teams of three little kids were dashing about playing Tin with a dozen cans and a deflated ball.
Enjoying themselves immensely. ###