Games people play

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The Independent Online
Pamela Tudor-Craig, 69, art historian.

I think that a game can be anything that you do with delight. If your way of doing things ism playful, then itmoften spills over onto the things that other people might regard as deadly serious. I'm not being flippant; the whole of Creation has a playful element to it. And if God has the characteristics suggested by the great theologians, then that must surely include a sense of humour.

I think that self-importance, and being determined to be a genius and all that kind of thing, is very tiresome. My approach to almost everything is playful. I regard research as a game. It's a form of hunting, but infinitely preferable to torturing some creature in an effort to track it down.

If I'm going into an art gallery for the first time, or doing a bit of research; winkling out some information; seeking a little clue in a public record office or some other serious establishment, then even at my advanced age, I'm as excited as a child.

Being important isn't the same as being serious. St Francis is my favourite saint because he was playful and not at all solemn. He sang and danced and pretended to play the violin. And while I think of it, this is the clinching requirement for sanctity: if you want to be an official saint, you have to perform three miracles during your life, three after your death, and you must have evidence of joy. It's in Proverbs 8, verse 30: "Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him." Sanctity is about laughing and seeing life as a kind of game. If it becomes too solemn and treacly, then it loses that sense of yeast in the dough.

Dr Pamela Tudor-Craig was presenter of the television series "The Secret Life of Paintings" and co-author of the book of the same name. She is curently working on an exhibition of Christian art.