They tumble to earth like emerald spacecraft and promptly disgorge their cargo, those glorious, glossy, nut-brown seeds that we call conkers.
It’s a long time since I attended school and, since then, the world has changed beyond recognition. Do children still play conkers or has an over-zealous Health and Safety culture put an end to those thrilling confrontations?
At school, conkers were treasured and nurtured.
Victory could make its owner lord of the playground until the day that a tougher, more resilient conker vanquished it.
Here’s a poem about just such a moment.
Harold’s had beaten all the rest
and like its owner it was tough.
Big, indestructible and smug,
he took Will's challenge with a shrug.
Perhaps he thought he’d called Will's bluff.
Will thought: Okay, let’s see who’s best.
The boys went still as Will took aim.
He held his breath and took a swing:
his conker struck hard. Harry's split.
It was a giant-killing hit.
Harold was left with empty string.
William had won the crucial game!