Games People Play: Nicholas Parsons, Actor and Presenter

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The Independent Culture
I PLAYED rugger when I was young, including three years at Glasgow University and an international Scottish trial game, East vs West. I was only 18 at the time. If I'd gone on playing, I think I could have achieved quite a lot - although you do have to train to a very high standard for that.

I was a forward, and often scored tries. It was always rough and tough, but there seem to be more heavyweights in the game now. They don't move so rapidly, but they're strong, and a lot of brawn goes into it. If you get into a ruck, you can actually have a more uncomfortable experience than perhaps you would have done when I was playing.

Once I was in showbusiness, I played a lot of squash, which is the most wonderful game in the world. You can be stressed out by your work, or perhaps someone is being difficult, and half an hour in the squash court rids you of all that pent-up frustration. Then you're completely relaxed and at peace with the world afterwards.

Physical activity is the best thing for mental stress. If you're out in the open, as long as you have a ball, you can always think of a game. I remember when I was very young, my mother used to get so irritated with me. I'd take a tennis ball into the garden and play games, throwing the ball at different angles against an uneven wall. It's very good for hand and eye co-ordination.

I still play cricket for the Lords Taverners, which I've been doing since the Fifties. I used to play a reasonable game, though I suppose at my advanced age, I should have hung up my box years ago!

Nicholas Parsons plays the Narrator some weeks in the `Rocky Horror Show', currently on tour. He is also recording the 34th series of Radio 4's `Just a Minute' for transmission in the New Year