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Newhaven Bools Rules!

By George Venters

There were a variety of games with bools – marbles - but the main one consisted of digging a shallow hole in some flattened earth and then throwing or rolling your bool towards it. Whoever’s bool landed up nearest the hole was the first to roll towards , and hopefully into, it. Once you were in the hole you then “plunked” from its edge towards the nearest other marble. If you hit it you won that bool. When “plunking” you extended your thumb to flick your “plunker” bool – which you held between your thumbnail and the hollow made by your fully flexed first finger – a triumph of alliteration – towards the target. The owner of the target bool had to stand behind it with his feet, heels together forefeet splayed, into a “V” shape, to prevent the plunked bool travelling far from the hole. If you missed, the owner of the missed bool rolled his one into the hole and plunked at yours.

You could use three separate bools in the one game. These were the one which you threw towards the hole, your “plunker” and a wee bool  called a trapsmie” or “trapsie” which you substituted for your expendable bool to give a smaller target for your opponent to hit. The weeest  ones you could get were “steelies” – quarter inch ball bearings from cannibalised ball races.

If you wanted to be allowed to make these substitutions you had to shout “everies” as soon as the first bool went into the hole and this also allowed you to have variations on how you tried to hit your opponents’ bools such as “bomb aimers” and “heights”. These were useful if the earth surrounding the hole was bumpy for “bomb-aimers” meant you could stand straight above a target bool and try to drop your bool directly on to it and “heights” meant that you plunked from a standing position aiming directly at the target from a height rather than rolling it over uneven ground.

As I write I realise how much of a geek I seem providing the details of a variant game that probably was only played like that in Newhaven – but, you see, I did like bools – both the game and the marbles themselves. Because of the war marbles were in short supply and you could not buy new coloured glass ones. All you could get were plain clear glass, or glazed clay ones.  So if you won  a variety of different coloured glass ones it meant that, as well as enjoying the bonny colours and patterns of the bools, you held history in your hands.