Games people play

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The Independent Culture
Ian McGarry, 57, general secretary of the actors' union Equity

MY REAL passion, I suppose, is National Hunt horseracing, but that's much too serious to be regarded as a game. Tragically, I'm now too old to play football, or even referee, which I did for a number of years. It was quite good experience for my job, trying to sort people out, squabbles and the like. But the game that enables me to escape from all the pressures of my daily existence is an old-fashioned game called darts.

I play at my local pub in Putney. We play semi-seriously on a Thursday night in a little local league, then at weekends we play what we call silly games. I don't suppose you've ever heard of them: games like Halve- its, Overs and Unders and Blind Killer, all for the amazing stake of 25p.

Blind Killer is where you try to knock each other out, but you don't know who's got what numbers, apart from your own. It's a good escape for me, because the people I play with are nothing to do with the entertainment industry. They're all local guys that I've played with for years. TV repairmen, and plumbers and lorry drivers, and some of them have rather strange names. If you want examples there's Battersea Bill and Big John, Brian the Bump, people like that.

On Thursday evening, you forget about everything else, which is the idea of playing games, I suppose. Concentrating on trying to win. You don't think about love, money or work.

Not long ago, in a game called Tactics, I had one throw in which I got three double tops, if you know what those are. I thought it was quite an achievement to get three double twenties in a row. Those are the moments when you punch the air, or have another drink.

Darts boards are available at most good pubs. Equity may be contacted at 0171-379 6000.

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