A most triumphant stag

Richard Johnson bonds with his fellow men over beer and board games
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Men can bond round a beating drum. But they bond better round a taproom table. On a stag night. They learn to overcome their repugnance for the taste of whisky, and keep drinking it until they collapse – as though picked off by a sniper. My own stag in Val d'Isère involved a lot of whisky drinking. And a board game or two – you wouldn't believe how Mousetrap can keep 20 drunken men entertained for hours.

Men can bond round a beating drum. But they bond better round a taproom table. On a stag night. They learn to overcome their repugnance for the taste of whisky, and keep drinking it until they collapse – as though picked off by a sniper. My own stag in Val d'Isère involved a lot of whisky drinking. And a board game or two – you wouldn't believe how Mousetrap can keep 20 drunken men entertained for hours.

I saw it happen at a stag do in Bath, as well. We were there to take in the waters. Yeah, right – only if they tasted like beer. Amusement arcades? You bet. The highlight of the day was laser wars. It was Green v Red. I think Green invaded Red, or started fraternising with Blue, or something, but the aim was to deactivate our opponent's HQ. Unfortunately, nobody was quite sure how.

Then to the bar with 20 men who used to turn their eyelids inside-out at school. And give themselves Chinese burns. We were there to toast the wedding of Alan. If this was a traditional stag do, he would have found a young (ideal, but not obligatory) woman (ditto) by now who would have let him put five pounds in her g-string – pound coins not advisable. But he preferred just to sit and contemplate his wife-to-be.

Then came the drinking games. I remember something called Fizz Buzz, which involved multiplication and long division. "I'm numerically dyslexic," said one stagger. "That's all right – you just get drunk quicker," came an unsympathetic reply. The boys moved on to the peppermint liqueur the landlord had been trying to offload since the end of Prohibition, and something orange from Portugal that tasted like the sulphurous urination of an old horse.

As long as they could lie on the floor without holding on, they kept drinking. We ended up in a lock-in – but by 1am we couldn't find the door anyway. I remember someone singing a version of "Ten Green Bottles" (which involved cleaning up the glass afterwards), before I fell asleep. A stag night without blood poisoning the morning after is like a wedding without a wedding night – and in this respect, we all fulfilled our stagly obligations.

In the haze of the Sunday, we rehearsed some lines to help the best man with his speech. "Some marry for love, some marry for companionship – Alan, however, is getting married because he needs a new toaster," etc. But there was no serious reflection on love. Which was a shame. When John said he thought a couple embarking on marriage should be frank and earnest, everyone disagreed. One of them should definitely be a girl.

There were no strippers or shaving foam, but it was fun all the same. A real exercise in bonding – with board games. It was where I learnt that men are just boys with pubic hair. I liked the fact that everything was terribly well-mannered. I remember leaving for London after lunch. As I pulled the door behind me, I heard the groom shout out: "Anyone like another tangerine?" from the kitchenette. We are men, hear us roar. E

You can e-mail Richard Johnson at drinkwithrichardjohnson@yahoo.co.uk

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