CREATIVE SPACE #25 OF 2022 (Uploaded December 14th 2022)

CREATIVE SPACE is an award-winning series spotlighting local (Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published exclusively in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 as a blog series and syndicated as of 2019 on Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. It has its first print run in the paper every other Wednesday, with the online extended edition with EXTRAS running here on the blog and full interviews and extras on AntiguanWriter on YouTube. In 2021, the twopart CREATIVE SPACE mini-series on marine culture placed third in the OECS clean oceans journalists challenge. CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean authorjournalist, producer, and freelance writer, editor, and trainer. 

Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared in the Daily Observer newspaper on December 14th 2022:

Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with EXTRAS. 


Ever feel a nostalgia for the games we played as children – those of us old enough to remember when play meant going outside instead of in to a virtual world?

1 & 2

Ever thought how cool it would be if one day during Independence season we made Rising Sun into a mega playground and, with the children, revisited the games of our youth.  Call it exercise, wrap it in culture; really, it’s low key sloughing off the dress of adulthood and its world of worries, and re-discovering the joy of play.

Because remember how all you needed was a ball to open up a day of play whether with a group, a smaller group, with just one other friend or by yourself?

3 & 4

Rounders, as pictured above, required a group. Baseball’s daddy and cricket’s cousin, which dates back to the 1700s, wasn’t played with a stick in the Caribbean; it was bare hands, fisted, whacking the ball and bare feet eating up the earth as we ran the bases to “home”. I hadn’t seen rounders in a while but then I came upon some pictures of CBH workers playing rounders during Breast Cancer Awareness Week, October-gone; a reminder that exercise and bonding happens naturally when you introduce a ball and play. When my alma mater, “we beige, green, and blue”, has its get togethers, it’s not unusual to find Captain Ball, niche to us, on the programme. Like the title says, it’s all about getting the ball to the captain, instead of into a hoop, as with the games it resembles, basketball and netball: jump and run, move the ball around or aloft to the captain in the middle without turning it over.

Marrals, like hopscotch, requires a hard surface and fewer people. We played it in the school yard, on the street, on the steps in front of our houses, rolling the ball and then clapping it – 1, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4 – hoping to make it all the way around unbroken.

As for the joys of Hand Tennis, when my nieces and nephews were younger, I played with them in the street, like the granny character and Dante in my book The Jungle Outside, a book, incidentally about introducing a boy wedded to this device to the wonders to be found outside. Sometimes, it was all of them against me one, sometimes they took turns, with the singular goal of someday, finally (!) beating me. More often than not they had to run after the ball …until they got older, and I did too.

5 & 6

With a simple tennis ball, furred or clean shaven, with friends (rounders, captain ball), fewer friends (marrals), in combos or solo (hand tennis, beating the ball against a solid surface if no one else was around), we found ways to play for endless hours, outside. No bat or other equipment required.

Take the ball away and even more games come to mind: from childhood to the days when, as a volunteer reader with the Cushion Club, I wove Concentration in to revision, and Red, Light, Green Light 1, 2, 3 in to spelling games with the children. I learned that physical play can enable the mind and explore in my writing workshops with teens and adults, some of them teachers, games like Punchinella, “look who’s there…what can you do”, to spark creativity.

The games we played sometimes had their own stories whether we knew it or not – and I’m not just talking the romance novels we wrote while skipping rope – “tell me the name of your sweetheart” (Queen of Hearts). From circle games (Ring-a-Rosie) to hand games (“Ms. Mary Mack Mack Mack all dressed in black black black with silver buttons, buttons, buttons”) to London Bridge (is falling down, falling down, falling down”), there’s lore there. And as with many of the collected fairytales we grew up on, some of it debatably quite dark at the root.

Yes, much of it was European but we brought our African selves – our rhythm and wit to it, adapted all of it to our environment; and in the joy of song and keeping time (Four white horses) and quest for adventure and victory (I denominate), learned to work together by adhering to the rules of play while unlocking the wonders of the imagination, all while breathing air and, as the kids would say, touching grass.

Images in this post –

1 & 2 – CKHS girls from different eras playing Captain Ball – I believe 2 is my era, mid-to-late-80s, as I recognize some of my classmates.

Sources: 1, the Christ the King High School 85 & Alive Facebook Page; 2 and this one, CPTSA Wings Sports Club Facebook Page.

3 & 4 are from the Central Board of Health Breast Cancer Awareness Week album on Facebook.

5 & 6 are the cover of my book The Jungle Outside and a panel in the book in which an older character (Granny) is playing hand tennis with a child (Dante) in the street.


Ring play and its African and European roots.

Games handed down.


What are your favourite childhood games?


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