We like a word game in our house.
I don’t just mean Scrabble, though, of course we do have it in our stack of board games, sandwiched right between Cluedo and Battleships (though it’s not the flashy, whizzy Battleships that goes Wheeeeeeeeee-peeyoooooo! when you sink a destroyer, more’s the pity. That, Buckaroo! and Operation were true objects of desire during my childhood. Now it’s all Ipods and killing prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto – is it me, or has the innocence of childhood died?)
Maybe we’re a bit weird (MAYBE?) but we also incorporate word games into our daily lives.
I do like a game of Hangman, that weirdly macabre word guessing game. The tension becomes palpable as first the gallows is built, then the poor, condemned stick man is constructed, one head, one limb at a time. Even if the word is guessed before the figure is complete – thus saving the inky man from strangulation – you’re left with an amputee swinging from a noose by his neck.
Sleep well, kiddiwinks!
Maybe we all just so missed seeing a good old hanging when they finally became indoor corporal punishments rather than outdoor, bring a picnic family fun, that we had to transfer the spectacle to paper – a tragic shadow of long drops past.
Anyhow, we don’t just indulge in Hangman, oh no.
We also play the Number Plate Game.
Maybe it started because my son was so obssessed by cars – when he was younger than three years old, he could recognise most popular car makes and models, not by their badges, but by the configuration of their lights. Yeah, I know. We thought about having him tested, but he seems pretty normal in every other way, so …
Anyhoo, to while away a walk along the traffic choked streets of this fair city, we take it in turns to use the three letters from a number (or licence) plate to make up a three word sentence – each word beginning with the letters in order.
For example, the letters ‘C B R’ could prompt the sentence –
‘Colour Big Rhinos,’
‘T P Q’ could be
‘Topiary Penguin – Quiet!’ etc.
Yes, Zs predictably become Zebras and Xs are usually Xray (with the occasionaly foray in to Xylophone territory, of course) but great nonsense is produced all round.
Our other favourite word game isn’t really a game – it’s more a case of looking for the obscure and peculiar.
This is called
To play this game you’ll need –
(1) a hideously ugly 1970s gas fire that (for some surreal reason lost in the mists of memory) stands on bricks as if it once had wheels long since nicked by a passing scally*.
(2) a bucket of magnetic letters such as you might use on your fridge to leave yourself notes about ordering more milk / buying laundry powder / getting a life.
Now all you need to do is listen for random phrases, shout ‘Fire!’ and spell out said phrase on the fire in magnetic letters. (If you don’t have an ugly gas fire to hand, I suppose you could always use a fridge, though then you’d have to change the name of the game to ‘Fridge!’ and that just wouldn’t be the same.)
The phrase can be anything that strikes a member of the family as daft or peculiar, spoken on TV or by a real life, breathing person.
At present we have
‘You am butt’
up there (no, I haven’t got a clue why). But in the past we’ve had
‘Two thirds dead’
‘Low hanging pig fruit’
‘The elephant of surprise’
‘Is this a big furry biscuit’
and that eternal favourite
‘Milky crud cloud’.
Feel free to play along with your kids.
*Scally : A North West English term for a disreputable person – usually a thief. e.g. ‘Look at that scally – bet he’s nicked that Steak Bake from Greggs.’