The following account of this game, which was a favourite school-boy amusement in the west country half a century ago, is contributed by a corrrspondent to the Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, vol i. part iv. p. 186 (1888).
A goal having been selected and bounds determined, the promoters used to prepare the others by calling at the top of their voices:
“Lamp! Lamp! Laa-o!
Those that don’t run shan’t play-o!”
Then one of the “spryest” lads is elected to commence, thus: first touching the goal with his foot or leaning against it, and clasping his hands so as to produce the letter W in the dumb alphabet, he pursues the other players, who are not so handicapped, when, if he succeeds in touching one without unclasping his hands, they both make a rush for the goal. Should either of the other boys succeed in overtaking one of these before reaching that spot, he has the privilege of riding him home pick-a-back. Then these two boys (i.e. the original pursuer and the one caught) joining hands, carry on the game as before, incurring a similar penalty in case of being overtaken as already described. Each successive boy, as he is touched by the pursuers, has to make for the goal under similar risks, afterwards clasping hands with the rest, and forming a new recruit in the pursuing gang, in whose chain the outside players alone have the privilege of touching and thus adding to their numbers. Should the chain at any time be broken, or should the original pursuer unclasp his hands, either by design or accident, the penalty of carrying a capturer to the goal is incurred and always enforced. Of course a great deal of mirth is caused by a big boy capturing a little one, and having to ride him home; by cleverly dodging a fast runner, as a hare does a greyhound; and by other events in a game, success in which is the result of superior agility.
In West Somerset the pursuing boys after starting were in the habit of crying out the word “brewerre” or “brewarre;” noise appearing to be quite as essential to the game as speed.