Games people play Brian Sewell teaches Pandora Melly the joy of chess

Christopher Silvester, 37, writer and journalist.

I can remember having lots of Civil War soldiers. You lined them up and conducted fantasy manoeuvres like any child. I was very normal in that sense, except that I never played ordinary children's games; I hated football and cricket, and wouldn't go near a rugby ball. I remember going to pre-school and being encouraged to box. I was five or six, I think.

There was a period when I played a lot of snooker - in its cruder form where you can have fun based on pure fluke shots. Ordinary snooker is rather boring unless you have some skill. I made a couple of attempts to become a tennis player but without any lasting result, and I've had a stab at golf - my father is a golfer, my mother and stepfather too.

The three things that really grip me are a film, a book or a conversation, whereas playing games or taking part in organised activities my mind wanders. I suppose you could say there's a lot of gamesmanship in the art of conversation, and certainly in seduction, where the rules are constantly changing. Of course I'm a bit of a fraud really, because I like playing with other people's emotions, but I'm not very keen when they do it to me.

I'm one of those people who always have to have rules explained to them over and over again. Poker is the only game I actually like. There are many variants: Texas Hold 'em, which is much favoured by professional gamblers; Seven Card Stud and Ho-Lo. I had my first game of bridge recently and did quite well. I can see myself becoming a bridge player in time; it's the sort of thing my mother encourages me to do.

I wish I'd been forced to learn ballroom dancing.

Get happy with Victor Silvester and his Orchestra "In a Dancing Mood" and other titles on CD. pounds 2.49 to pounds 11.99 from Virgin Record Shops (0500- 120012 for stores nationwide).

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