Games people play

Pandora Melly learns the arts of mountaineering in bed and being very dull in Willesden
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Will Self, 35, writer

I find the spectacle of a lot of people playing games one of the most revolting things in the world. Competitive games with men are all too often a pathetic example of the dominance displays of apes. It really is an unedifying spectacle; a lot of silly men beating their tits. This is my loss, probably, because I also feel that there is a kind of game- playing that is a lot more co-operative and enjoyable.

The only game I really enjoyed playing was something called "Willy's Walk to Grandmama". It was an allegorical journey on oil-cloth; very Bunyan- esque. It was my grandmother's when she was a child. Instead of a dice, there was a tee-toe-tum. I think the tokens were made of ivory.

My brother and I once invented a game: it was called Gray's Thurrock. You begin by naming a boring suburb in London, then your opponent has to name a more boring suburb. If you start with Willesden, you're in trouble. Unlike Mornington Crescent, which is a stupid non-game, it requires an encyclopedic knowledge of London suburbs. You really have to know your shiiit before you get into a game of Gray's Thurrock.

We used to play route games as well. You're sitting in one part of town, and somebody says: "How d'you get to X?" You've got to name every street, and players can challenge by saying: "You've missed a one-way system back there", or "You forgot the short-cut", or whatever. Very boring if you're not interested in routes.

I completely fail to play games, or have any pastimes, or really do anything much. I'm an armchair mountaineer. There's nothing I like better than reading about somebody hanging off the south face of Anapurna, when I'm cuddled up in bed. Are games a rehearsal for something? More games, possibly.

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