Like most people of my age, I was raised on board games. The sight of the MB logo makes me feel nostalgic and casts me back to an era when playing a game didn’t involve any electricity but did require other people, (unless your brother had tricked you into playing 52 card pick up again -a trick you’d think would only work once), when you could watch the news at the cinema and leave your back door open. Actually, I’m not *that* old. We were the proud owners of this piece of modernity:
I have been cataloguing all of my games.
What could have been a dull admin task has actually been a sojourn into my childhood.
Boggle was a family favourite: portable and quick to play. I remember playing Boggle with all my family – we all loved a word game. But what I hadn’t realised until I started working my way through my games again is that they had adapted the rules for me, as I was the youngest. And for all this time I never knew that you have to cross out the words that everyone got. My memory of playing with my siblings is that it was much more cut-throat. They were obviously nicer than I thought!
Although I do remember playing Escape From Altlantis with my eldest Sister who insisted that we ‘play nicely’. Escape from Atlantis is a game of survival. Each player tries to save their own Atlanteans whilst feeding their opponents to Sharks and Sea Monsters while Octopi lie in wait to destroy their boats leaving swimmers thrashing about in the freezing sea hoping that a friendly dolphin will protect them. ‘Playing Nicely’ pretty much destroys the whole game. Nowadays I’m a fan of a co-operative game but then, not so much.
Even friends of my siblings were not exempt from my demands. While Chris waited for my brother to douse himself in Old Spice or Brut and be ready to head to the pub, he would often sit on the floor and play a game of something. Chris once told me that if you open a golf ball acid shoots out and blinds you. He also once accidentally shaved his eyebrows off whilst trying to ‘even them up’. These odd tales and his willingness to play Perfection endlessly made him a favourite visitor. I remember the first time I played against him and when the timer ended he screamed in a very high pitched manner and clutched his chest. Excellent adulting.
Bank Holidays were for whole family games of Monopoly which lasted days and were played out lying on the flowery carpet in front of the gas fire with it’s coloured glass stones and swirling light effect. Age was a boon here, with the eldest always being banker and the youngest (me) being the first to declare bankruptcy or spent attention span.
My Aunty and my Mum liked to play card games and they taught me Gin Rummy, Pontoon, New Market and others I’ve since forgotten. We would sit in my Aunty’s caravan in North Wales drinking tea, listening to the rain beat on the caravan roof while we bet pennies on the cards. Aunty Terry always played to me, much to the annoyance of my Uncle. She would always promise to stop it and then wink at me conspiratorially. I learnt kindness from her, the fulfilment of victory but luckily didn’t develop a gambling problem.
So for me board and card games are comforting: a warm nostalgic glow like watching slow turning light through fire coloured glass; like watching the butter melt into a crumpet as I patiently wait for Pebble Mill at One to end; like marvelling at the fact that flowery wallpaper and a flowery carpet don’t necessarily match; the comfort of family with all the rivalry and love that comes with it.