The Artist, the one who drives the Rollscanardly, told me that her family played a lot of parlour games when she was growing up. Her siblings were keen on the Name Game. That’s the one where someone writes the name of a famous person on a post it note and sticks this to your forehead. By asking lots of questions you have to figure out who it is. It might have been Mary Queen of Scots or Florence Nightingale. She got the Fat Slag.
In my family we used to play Charades when Fierce Granny came to tea. This was largely because it gave us all something to do to take our mind off Fierce Granny and put her at a disadvantage if she got landed with “Wacky Races”, which she invariably did.
We were more Lionel Blair than Marcel Marceau with our brash, exaggerated and unrelenting house style. We were encouraged to make large gestures for the benefit of the “gozzy” one (that would be me) amongst us. Often this would be accompanied by a murmured narration of what was going on, as well as a lot of guess work and shouting. It never networked.
Other people’s family gaming traditions can be equally eccentric, but not as eccentric as their approach to involving a player who can’t see to play the game.
There was the board game where one player rolled the dice on my behalf and another one moved my counter up and down the board. Someone else read out my forfeits, but needless to say, it was me that had to do them. Once I had to stand outside and shout “Fish frying tonight”. Worse was to follow.
There are practically no good party games, with the exception of the Hat Game, which is played sitting down, requires no leaping about after too much turkey or rum butter, and allows all players free reign when it comes to describing the famous, as well as the next door neighbour, and best of all; you don’t need to be able to see to be good at it.
At the second of this years’ family Christmas lunches, held in shifts to accommodate the completing needs of in-laws and out-laws, parlour games raised their ugly head. A palpable wave of horror ran through me. This was compounded by the discovery that not only were we all going to play games but, we were going to log on to the internet and suffer a small fee what you have always been able to suffer for free.
Using our phones and tablets “as controllers” we were going to play “the wildest” “the weirdest” comedy contest game with up to ten logged on players and an audience of thousands. I was about to demonstrate that a winning quip requires accuracy in its execution. When you only have seconds, not even the Zoom function on an iPad is enough.
Like the public humiliation of having your blind bowling score illuminated for the world to see, or being asked to take part in a karaoke contest in which you know you can only mouth the song, I had my answers and comic reposts laid out before an unsuspecting audience. Or at least, I had half of them laid out and not one in it’s finished form.
As the answers flashed up on the TV screen on the other side of the room, everyone laughed and pointed at I know not what. I was not amongst the top scorers. It was all lost on me.
I put down my iPad and harrumphed a fast quip. There is nothing like throwing a tantrum to win in the game of family life. Harrumph is always Top Trumph.