Games people play
Saturday 06 June 1998
I thought I needed to go out on Friday nights, but in fact I'm quite happy to sit and play backgammon or draughts, which is interesting because I suppose that's a part of approaching middle age.
It's hard to think of the earliest game I ever played. When I was at school, we used to play social games. That's not a very good word for it; I suppose they were rather unsophisticated pranks. One was called the touching game, whereby you and a friend would stand around in the West End of London and pick out strangers for each other to touch.
It sounds quite rude, but obviously you wouldn't touch their privates. It was just a way of trying to transgress in a controlled environment. And potentially dangerous if you were told to touch a well-muscled builder.
Occasionally, when I was 16 years old, I'd play a horrible game. We would stand by the side of a road, looking as though we wanted to cross it. Cars would come up and slow right down, and then just as they were on the verge of stopping, they'd see that we weren't making any move whatsoever, and the drivers would shout: "You ******* idiots".
When I was seven or eight years old, I loved the idea of being a chess prodigy, but I've actually never won a single game in my whole life. It's not as though I'd memorised a Spassky opening or anything. But then this friend of mine devised a version called flick-chess.
You set up the pieces as for normal chess, then you flick them as hard as you can so that you knock your opponent's pieces off the board. It's painful but quite fun. They fly off pretty fast. Chess enthusiasts don't really see the point.
Louis Theroux will be exploring further excesses of American subculture in a second series of his 'Weird Weekends' in December on BBC2, start ing with a Christmas Special.
Flick-chess is best played with heavy-duty plastic pieces.
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