Thursday, 19 December 2013

Fun and games

It's time to start dusting down the board games from last year and think of games to play with the whole family in the long Winter afternoons.
At children's parties in England, we used to play lots of party games. The whole event revolved around them.
Pass the parcel, Blind man's buff, Chinese whispers, pin the tail on the donkey, hunt the thimble. The list was endless, and we all knew how to play them. I can still clearly see my Mum dancing towards me, face alight, holding hands with the other Mums and singing "Here we go gathering nuts in May".
As we got older we played Postman's knock, spin the bottle and most exciting of all Sardines.
I always loved playing Charades and Consequences.
At parties for grown ups in England, at this time of year, you could find yourself standing on a phone book with a complete stranger trying to pick up a key from the floor, without falling off.
I tried to export these games to Italy. Elegant women playing pass the orange under the chin, or passing a match box from the end of your nose. They were all good sports and joined in, but I don't think they've got the same enthusiasm.
It seems to me that the aim of these games, apart from, hopefully having fun, is not to take yourself too seriously and break the ice.
Party games must go back a long way. In "A Christmas carol" we see  Scrooge's nephew playing Charades.
When my Mum came to stay in Italy, she and my Italian mother-in-law, spent many happy afternoons playing "Connect Four" and "Guess Who", the language barrier less of a problem.
My mother-in-law joined in with my party games more than anyone. It was very moving to see this lovely, elegant woman dressed in my daughter's tutu, my Dad's flat cap and some fairy wings. She looked like she was having the time of her life.

I'm just going to give instructions for one game here. Anyone can play it, from one to a hundred.
It's a great game for the end of a party because everyone can win something.

Beat the pan.
A sturdy kitchen pan is placed upside-down in the centre of the room and under it is placed a small prize.
In turn, each player is blindfolded and given a wooden  spoon, then turned round and round (gently).
Either crouching or on all fours ,the player tries to first find and then beat the pan, with everyone encouraging and directing from the sidelines.
When a player beats the pan the blindfold is removed and the prize won.
Another prize is then placed under the pan until everyone has a turn.

Just to be a bit sort of pompous here, party games start to teach you to do what Kipling says we should. "Meet with triumph and disaster and treat to these imposters just the same ", I think it's written above Wimbledon.

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