Games people play

Pandora Melly on wives battered with mallets aforethought
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Auberon Waugh, 57, Editor of The Literary Review

I've never been able to cope with moving balls as I haven't very good eyesight. But I can hit a stationary ball, and I find that Croquet is one of the few things I'm very good at, particularly on my home course.

I do slightly have my own rules, because the traditional game can be quite boring as you always have one partnership playing miles ahead of the other through different hoops. It's better if everybody plays through the same hoop. A bit like golf, except that you can croquet every ball that tries to get through a hoop, and as soon as the second ball and partnership have been through the hoop, the turn passes and you're on to the next one.

Perhaps I should explain that when you croquet a ball, you hit a ball with your ball, then you put your ball up against it and have another hit. then you have a third hit independently, shich gives you a tremendous advantage.

Croquet is considered a rather vindictive game, bit it needn't be, although sometimes people lose their tempers. On one occasion, I saw the beautiful wife and the ex-editor of a famous daily newspaper being struck by her husband with a croquet mallet, which is a very dangerous thing to do.

It is a lovely game, because tactics and skill are of equal importance, and it also works off your aggression a tiny bit. A lot of players are very good at hitting balls but they can't do the tactics. You can knock your opponents for six if you want to, but then it's the end of your turn. Also you're using other people the whole time to help your ball along, which makes me think that the ideal psychological profile for success at Croquet is "happy and ruthless".

Historic croquet hoops and mallets will be on show at: "With Mallets Aforethought", an exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the Croquet Association, at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum starting Tuesday 13 May. Closed on Mondays, (except bank holiday Mondays), not open to the general public during the Lawn Tennis Championships. pounds 2.50 adults, pounds 1.50 concessionary. (0181-946-6131).

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