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Is it time for a return of competitive spoon cleaning?

Once it was a highlight of Co-operative outings and treats. Is this a bracing northern way to tempt children from their computers and mobile phones?

Have you got children to occupy over the weekend? How about a spot of spoon cleaning?

The idea comes courtesy of the Northerner’s Twitter friends theGoldthorpes who got it from their friend Olthwaite, both good northern names with their references to village and fields.

They found it in the endlessly absorbing Huddersfield Examiner whose archivist Stephen Carter was its ultimate discoverer, in the paper’s library during a spring-clean to get ready for the Examiner’s move to new offices in Bradley. It is reassuring to hear that local newspapers still have archivists in these straitened times, and Mr Carter’s spoon-cleaning revelation underlines that point.

He turned up a set of photographs of very neatly-dressed children pausing during the spoon cleaning competition at the Skelmanthorpe Co-Operative Treat in 1909, watched by an impressive number of parents and neighbours. The contestants are all girls but that surely wouldn’t be the case these days. Washing-up in my experience is quite a male interest; probably a compensation activity for inability to cook adequately.

Spoons are particularly good to clean, without the fiddly tines of a fork or the possible dangers of knives. They have a curious fascination which Private Eye has used to good effect. Even the word is appealing, and its derivation is enjoyable. There are even spoon-cleaning videos online, and here is one from YouTube.

The Northerner has just been writing about the Co-Op and its continuing prosperity, and last year we looked at their involvement in education, providing an alternative management model to academies with less of the uncertainty about future which structures which surrounds the latter. Perhaps they would be the people to spearhead the return of spoon-cleaning, and other useful but entertaining activities for children and families from past ‘treat’ outings.

You can check out other pictures from Huddersfield’s past here. Have a good weekend. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds