Escaping from Colditz and the Exclusion Illusion

There is nothing more enticing to a child than something forbidden. For my year 9s it was a poem. It was a lesson I taught many times. I would distribute anthologies from the AQA exam board and ask them to turn to page 37. In some anthologies they would find ‘Education for Leisure’ by Carol Ann Duffy, but in some – judiciously placed, post 2008 anthologies they would read ‘This page has been intentionally left blank.’
Some kids: “How come mine’s blank?” “I haven’t got a poem” “Why has she got a poem and I haven’t?” “Let’s see”…. and much generic fussing culminating in a general consensus that it was ‘tight’ that they couldn’t all have a poem.
My response was to explain that some of them were blank because the government and the exam board don’t want you to read it. This consolidated the vague and shared sense of injustice into a tangible outrage that ‘they’ would ‘even dare stop me reading that poem’.
I did my best as a responsible adult to assuage their anger by explaining that if I read it to them then they would probably segue from hanging round in hoodies intimidating old folks to actually murdering people. But in the end I gave in and read it to my hushed, conspiratorial audience. Awesome.
For me, it was not a poem but a board game that I was denied access to. And it was my brother’s insistence on playing Escape From Colditz alone, rather than let me ‘ruin it’ that found me in an e.bay bidding war for a copy of the forbidden game. Surely I am big enough now to master its complexities.
Somewhat daunted by the suggested 2.5 hour time limit, my son and I bravely commenced. At the end of 2 days, he had sprung only one PoW and we crowned him the winner. We carefully packed it away in its box and waited for a rainy weekend.
Colditz is complex. One of you assumes the role of German guard and thwarts your opponents every escape attempt. Gleefully calling ‘Appels’ at key moments rendering all their previous moves futile. The thought of adopting multiple roles is a kind of intelligent lunacy. It has made me look at my daft big brother in a whole new respectful light. (But don’t let on I’ve said that though).
And what about you? Don’t worry I have something that you’re not allowed to play. Well, you are allowed but it’s probably too difficult for you: Enigma.
It’s impossible: a combination of maze, riddles and pits of ignorance. I’ve said this to visitors aged 9 and up, always with the same response: ‘Let me have a look then.’ In fairness both Carrie and Brigid got at least one question right. (O.K. it was one but I thought I’d big them up.)
In fact, here’s 2 riddles – solve one (just post your answer in the comments section or tweet me #cardsordie) and you win the ‘smug git of the week’ award plus a much sought after Cards or Die badge. I mean you won’t get it so I’d stop reading here if I were you…
The game is on…Good Luck!

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