Category Archives: Games

#prosit 2014

I’m with the Wiener Philharmoniker. Have a prosit 2014! Although I’ve never felt quite so sleepy while ‘attending’ the New Year’s concert in Vienna before. My eyelids kept closing. Perhaps they got out of bed sooner than they should have. The dancers’ kilts & nappies were certainly different…

The night before was fine, too. Once Daughter had been dispatched to the Lovely Library Helper’s house, the rest of us tucked into this year’s – no, I mean last year’s – home made Indian meal (apart from the chilli parathas which thankfully we’d been able to buy again), and ‘watched’ Mamma Mia! in the background. Very relaxing. We had sufficiently little food that there were few leftovers. Which is probably just as well.

Between the fictional Greek island and the London fireworks we did a quiz. It was Daughter’s new quiz book which kept us giggling and arguing for another hour, or so. I even found a question about one of my facebook friends. And I even knew the answer.

Everyone else will presumably despise us for this, but between the background television and the quiz book, we have had pleasant meals (only one sitting round the table) and not too many disagreeable silences. I could see myself doing it like that again.

That Puppet Game Show

Well that was a bit of a wash-out. The pre-show comments on That Puppet Game Show sounded so positive I almost didn’t hesitate to sit the Resident IT Consultant down in front of the box to eat dinner. I’m lucky he didn’t choke on the carrot sticks.

I was so keen I watched despite the first guest being Jonathan Ross. I was so keen I watched despite it being a game show. I don’t generally watch game shows, and especially not on a Saturday night when all right thinking people know there is nothing to watch if it’s not on BBC4.

The thing is, Jonathan Ross was among the best things on the show, and that is not a comment I make lightly. Even Katherine Jenkins was a little disappointing. Muppets/Puppets don’t belong with simple minded games. They are to be connected with highly intelligent humour, and there was only a tiny bit of amusement to be found mainly in the backstage happenings.

Singing sausages and Martini-drinking armadillos. I don’t think so.

In future we will choke – or not – on our carrot sticks in the kitchen, completely sans any puppets.

Saved by the puzzles

We knew we needed to do something. You can’t have everyone together for Christmas and have no plan at all. (And expect it to work, I mean.) The Resident IT Consultant issued an order well in advance that we had to do some jigsaw puzzled when the Grandmother arrived.

She is a bit of a pro. Whenever I visit and want to spread my laptop out, I have to shift a jigsaw puzzle. She ‘test drives’ them for Oxfam. It’s best to know whether what you try to sell has all the pieces, so she does that. Me, I can’t see well enough to differentiate between this piece of sky or that piece of sky. (Progressive specs are all very well, but there are areas in-between where I just can’t focus.)

So they puzzled and I made tea. Fair exchange.

I realised – belatedly – that we should have asked for a jigsaw puzzle table when Offspring did their woodwork for GCSE. Is it too late to ask them to return to secondary school and do the course again?

Jigsaw puzzle

Speaking of woodwork, that is what is behind the puzzles. The Resident IT Consultant’s grandfather made them. The whole extended family has loads of jigsaw puzzles, and when we’ve had enough, we swap.

He would search for interesting pictures (I think the most ‘different’ jigsaw picture I’ve seen was the enormous one of Earth as seen from above the North Pole), stick them onto a sheet of plywood and then attack it with the jigsaw, cutting out the oddest shapes. This means you can never guess what shape you are searching for. It also doesn’t help that there is no image, so you have no idea what you are working towards.

The jigsaw puzzles

I have a shelf full of handsewn fabric bags filled with jigsaw pieces. Some of the smaller ones live in old cake tins. And I keep meaning to make sure that as soon as a jigsaw puzzle has been completed, we will take a photo of it. But somehow, in the heat of the moment, this tends to get forgotten.

We – I mean they – went through a lot of them over Christmas. It helped that we had some ‘fresh’ ones in from Aunt Scarborough.

I wouldn’t mind some tulips, actually

The thing you never realise as a child, busy having fun on your birthday, is what hard work it is being a parent. First there is the day (or it could be night) when you meet, a point when the mother has generally worked quite hard for some time. When she gets home with her baby she tends to think that that’s the worst of it over.

But soon she discovers that whereas she would enjoy some praise for having produced such a fantastic baby and child, and perhaps be given flowers and chocolates on his/her birthday, it’s actually expected that she prepares a party for any number of little, or not so little, ‘hooligans’ on the same day every year. And so it goes on for almost two decades. Presents. Food. Cleaning. (At first I cleaned the house before the party. I soon learned that afterwards is enough, removing bits of chocolate trodden into carpets and stuff. And I’m not even going to mention the Whistle child who sprayed all our books with Ribena.)

But whereas I read on facebook about people’s children’s 18th parties that go a little overboard, we never had those. (Maybe they are still to come?) Son, who today is a bit older than 16, celebrated his 16th some years ago. It’s a party that still baffles me.

It was the first time I seriously thought the guests would be ‘grown-up’ and demand drugs and entertainment.

What I got was the same group of overgrown boys, dragging the same mud through the house they always did, playing tag in the garden. (Remember it’s the middle of January. It’s cold. It’s dark. Often wet.) I used to worry what the neighbours would think when hearing the adolescent screams. They might have been mere calves, but they sounded like fully grown bulls.

Pizza was eaten. I suspect some guests moved on to non-alcoholic beer, whilst Coke was still more popular.

And then they gathered round the piano and played Pachelbel’s Canon. And own composed requiems. (I blame GCSE music…)

Not sure if that was the year when the best behaved boy (and I really mean that) called me a witch. He had no idea how right he was. Just mortified when he realised what he had implied.

This year there is no party to prepare for. And still no reward for me. Unless I count the peace and quiet.

Buying and selling

“You buy things’, said the then 7-year-old Son as he tried to describe what he’d been doing at the house of his newish friends. I thought maybe they had some toy shop of sorts.

He wasn’t so good at mentioning the pertinent facts about whatever he was going on about, which left us guessing more than necessary. Once he’d elaborated a little more, it sounded like he might actually have been talking about Monopoly. Yes, you do buy things, don’t you?

This tells you one thing about us, however, and one I’m not terribly proud of. We had been depriving Son, and we had failed to play this classic game with him. In fact, we played very little. Bad parents.

It’s worse, considering how much I had loved it as a child, and how much I craved owning a set of Monopoly myself. I never did. It was yet another unnecessary thing we couldn’t afford and besides, games in Sweden cost a lot more, relatively speaking.

Anyway, as an only child I would have had a hard time finding enough companions to play with. But I enjoyed it whenever I was at someone’s house and we could play. And that time when I was about 16 and was the only one of my cousins who’d been invited to our aunt’s birthday dinner in a restaurant, I was sufficiently enraged over the unfairness, and elected to spend the day with the unwanted cousins. (And I did love restaurant meals.) We ended up playing Monopoly all afternoon, and there were at least five of us, so it was a great game. Must have been, since I still remember it so vividly.


So why I hadn’t bought Monopoly for Offspring is a mystery. That day when Son enthused about it, it dawned on me that I could, actually, buy a box. We could afford it. So we did. Not that I went about it the easy way. I asked Mother-of-witch to buy the Swedish version, so that it’d be a little bit different.

It certainly was different. No one else could read what was on the cards. First not the children, though they learned after a while. And definitely not their friends. So at the school fair one year Son finally bought an old battered British Monopoly set, and now we are the same as everyone else. Except I still don’t know the addresses very well. There is nothing like Norrmalmstorg.

And when someone says they quite fancy a new version, Manchester or whatever, I point out that we barely use the ones we do own. Offspring are still deprived of quality game time with the old people.

Happy 75th, dear Monopoly!