Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Bunny Run



Inspired by this week's theme, but otherwise entirely irrelevant, is the story of the Bunny Run. The drama group I was in in Milton Keynes was famous for its local documentaries, and we did one about life in Stony Stratford in the 1920s and 30s. This is what some Stony residents remembered:

"Sundays, we used to walk the High Street. Everybody did. It was the highlight of the week…

Up Stratford High Street, on Sunday nights, they used to call it “The Bunny Run”. You’d walk up and down, talk to girls, Sometimes, in the summer, you walked across the fields to Cosgrove…

They used to go and stand about in the shop doorways and they used to reckon that, if you walked up the “Bunny Run”, eventually you’d get a young man. This is going back about 1936 or ’37. It was like a promenade at the seaside. If you’d got a new coat or anything new, you had to appear…

I think there were some people in them days, met their partners on the “Bunny Run”…

Sergeant Rollings would come by. “Come along. Out of those doorways.”…

If any of the shopkeepers didn’t want it, they used to put a little gate across the front of the shop, so you didn’t go in the doorway. I remember Grafton Cycles put in a little gate, so no one could go in their doorway. Oh dear. When you think about it!...

The young fellows from Deanshanger, Stony Stratford and Wolverton would all walk the “Bunny Run” as we used to call it. We all used to walk and smile and nod and maybe have a word with someone and nothing ever went beyond that. I suppose, through talking to boys like that, you sort of got to know them. You might have a date with a boy and go out for a walk with him. That would be the start and then it led to courtship. Or you just had a date, where nothing came of it, and you sort of looked around somewhere else. That was a great pleasure; because that was one of the ways we really met boys unless we went to dances…"


Any courtship rituals in your neck of the woods?

The Bunny Run - the Living Archive Band

10 comments:

Mnemonic said...

In Penzance, it was a short raised stretch of the promenade, between the Winter Gardens (the "Wint" at one end and the Folly Cafe at the other. Sunday nights between about 7-10 o'clock. Apparently people met and married from there. Don't know if it still goes on but it was a cheap way of parading your best clothes and meeting boys.

goneforeign said...

There was a very common routine in Chiapas in southern Mexico in the '60's; many small towns were built around a central plaza, starting on Sunday afternoon and going into the evening, everyone in their finest, the men would walk around the square clockwise and the women would go counterclockwise just inside them. If there was someone you fancied you'd pass about every few minutes. There was always an awful radio station played very loud through a very cheap and distorting amp. The bars had outdoor tables for the spectators. It may still be happening.

AliMunday said...

They have the Westgate Run in Wakefield, which has a similar role except that it is also a notorious pub crawl. Saturday night sees scores of scantily clad women tottering about from pub to pub, pursued by boys with no coats and white ankle socks peeping below their trousers.

BalearicBeat said...

In Manchester from the turn of the century through the 20s and 30s, there was the same courtship ritual, known here then as the "Monkey Run" or "Monkey Parade". Again this was principally a Sunday evening pastime, as before the Second World War licensing laws didn't allow dancing or film shows on a Sunday. This quoted from 1905 in Dave Haslam's excellent Manchester, England: "On Sunday evenings there are three main points of attraction for working lads: Oldham Street, Market Street and Stockport Road. From Hulme, from Ardwick and from Ancoats they come in, in the main well-dressed and frequently sporting a flower in the button-holes of their jackets".
Ewan MacColl recalled this: "The conversational gambits were generally uninspired, consisting of the kind of clicking sounds that are used to encourage a horse to go faster, or remarks like "Going far" or "fancy a walk?".
The lads would often parade up one side of the road and the no-less enthusiastic lasses the other. This one lady recalls: "All up Regent Road on either side there were lads and girls...that's where they picked these lads up. My mother copped me once with a lad and I got a damn good hiding".

B-Mac said...

When i was a teen, it was the old "go down the new cross venue on indie night, drink 3 pints of cider, dance to the breeders, lunge at someone, have a snog, do a sick" routine - worked for me!!

Rib said...

I remember the scene/song 'The Bunny Run' very well - as I wrote and directed the play! The song was written by Kevin Adams, of The Living Archive Band, and it's still available on CD. Incidentally, the term 'Monkey Parade' was also used in Derbyshire and Notts. There must have been equivalents all over the country.
Now, I'd really like to know who posted the first item here.

treefrogdemon said...

Hi Rib: it was I, Joc Rose, former Stony Stratford resident and member of SCTC.

Rib said...

Ah Joc - I remember you well! Thanks! Rib

Silvergold said...

I totally remember seeing this play, I went to see it with my best friend and her parents who lived in Stony Stratford. About 1991-1992? I just Googled "Bunny Run" because I remembered the song in the play and wanted to know if it was a countrywide term - how interesting that it was just a local thing!

treefrogdemon said...

Hi Silvergold - glad you remember the play! Yes, it must've been early 90s, soon after I moved to Stony.