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  • Public Servant Lifestyle: 'As well as the main games played today, there are others which are only popular in particular regions - such as 'Aunt Sally' in Oxfordshire, or bat and trap in Kent - or even individual pubs, ranging from the obscure to the downright eccentric.'

    June 30, 2008

  • "Aunt Sally" was, beginning in the 19th century, a popular amusement at fairs and carnivals in which a representation of an old woman's head with a pipe in its mouth was set up and players attempted, by throwing sticks, to break off the pipe. I would imagine that the "Aunt Sally" game was thus similar to a carnival attraction popular here in the U.S. in which the object is to knock over a stack of wooden milk bottles with a softball. In any case, evidently this "Aunt Sally" game was sufficiently popular in the mid-19th century that by 1898 "Aunt Sally" was being used in a figurative sense for someone who became the object of easy but unfair attack, the sort of unwarranted but superficially plausible criticism we Americans call "a cheap shot."


    February 8, 2009