October in Britain heralds the coming of the conker season. This time honoured tradition of collecting the largest and potentially strongest conkers, hardening them by drying either on a radiator or in an oven, and then threading them with string, is seen as the most important game of the month in every school playground.
And in October there are two official tournaments on the Island, the first being the World Conker Championship in Ashton Northamptonshire which started in 1965 and attracts audiences of some 5000 people, and the second the Scottish Conker Championships in the Tweed Valley. The rules of the game vary but the goal is to smash the opponents conker to bits by hitting it with your own, which requires good eye-hand coordination and a certain amount of nerve.
And what happens when the conkers fall in Germany?
Not surprisingly they are put to an altogether more creative and less competitive pastime.
Kastanienmännchen or conker figures are animal or human figures constructed and created with matchsticks or wire. The different shapes of the conkers are used to create the body parts of the figures and this apparently not only develops the children’s dexterity but also their creative skills.
So does this difference offer an insight into both cultures? Maybe.
The British are good at making games and the Germans are good at making things.