Fair game


Funny thing about family life — other people’s families, not mine — is that they play games together. I went off the whole card game/boardgame thing at around the age of nine. I’m not being sniffy about them, quite the reverse. I gave up games because even I was aware that the sulks monumentalis they triggered in my unsportsmanlike breast (I blame my older brother for being better than me – oooooh, still raging) perhaps drained some of the joy for everyone. Since then I’ve always thought that playing games for enjoyment through childhood and into adulthood suggests an emotional maturity and generosity of spirit that, shamefully, I could never muster.

The really annoying thing is that I like them, I find. All those wasted years! I was reintroduced to Racing Demon about a year ago, and then again in Ibiza. I’m not very good, but like with pool, uselessness no longer seems to bother me. It’s probably vastly irritating for my opponents, waiting as I hum and frown and wibble, but then I can volley out the reproachful sentence that so drove me to distraction as a child: it’s only a game.

So, after several bottles of wine, we all settled in for a game of Racing Demon – just as da Beefa kidz were probably downing their first pre-club Jäger-bomb. We praps weren’t as speedy as we might have been, being half-cut and thus light on short-term memory, but later on that evening they taught me Contract Whist. I can’t remember any of the rules, except you have to guess how many tricks or trumps or something you think you’ll get, and that I won by a country mile. I got, like, 70 points or something. How? Though I do recall a lot of people saying ‘Sorry, what was trumps again?’; there may be a clue there.

My favourite game of the whole week, though, was the quickfire round of Shrieking Husband we played when Fred relinquished the driving duties to Pip and sat in the front seat. Easy rules: just shout ‘That ditch is REEEEEAALLY close!’ and then apologise profusely afterwards.


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