Snow? Balderdash!

As the country comes to a shuddering (or should that be shivering?) halt, with everyone housebound by snow with only ‘Cash in the Attic’ on TV, there will be an inevitable temptation to start a board game involving the entire family. Whatever you do people, don’t do it.

The problem with playing board games with the entire family is that you’ve already reached rock-bottom before it’s suggested. You’ve listened to everything on your Ipod 10 times in a row. You’ve searched every tv channel, discovered the QVC shopping channel hour-long special ‘scrap-booking with Candice’ is the best television has to offer and are now watching it again on QVC+1. Perhaps the batteries have run out in every present you’ve been given, and you’ve done every square foot of carpet in the house with a lint-roller. Traditionally there is nothing else to do but break out the boardgames.

The thing is, when you’ve hit rock bottom, board games are the only thing that can unlock another level to sink to.

There’s the inevitable build-up. One person has a brilliant idea to play one, and then chirpily encourages everyone else to join in. A little flicker of hope out the boredom lights in every eye.

Everyone rushes around the house. Drinks are got. Biscuits and Quality Street opened and put on the coffee table – the next couple of hours are going to be action-packed, and there won’t be time to go and make a sandwich…

One person, normally the one who owns the most number of pocket calculators, explains the rules to everyone. Then they explain it two more times for granny or grandad, before granny or grandad exclaim ‘I’m sure I’ll pick it up as we go along’. We know they won’t.

For the next 10 minutes there is action. Everyone’s scrutinising the role of the dice, the spinning of the spinney thing on the board. You’re all planning a winning strategy. The living room is filled with people taking on the mindset of the illegitimate offspring of Alan Sugar, Bruce Willis and the guy who invented the electric can-opener. It’s just like the advert. Who’ll be the first one to break?

Of course, the first one to break won’t be the loser in this situation. Far from it in fact. Since the dawn of time, no attempt to play a board game has ever lasted more than 20 minutes before one person cracks. They get bored. They start taking their turn slowly. The inevitable line, ‘sorry… who’s go is it? Oh, it’s mine’, is uttered from stage-left. The phrases ‘is this game nearly finished’, or ‘shall we just say x won?’ signal the end is nigh.

Within 30 minutes the living room has gone from all the thrill of the fair to the closing moments of The Italian Job. I know this – I’ve played ‘Absolute Balderdash’.

And in many respects the ‘snow event’ (didn’t it used to just be called weather?) is exactly same. The news of oncoming snow creates a little flicker of hope in peoples’ eyes that we’ll be taken out of our routine. We sit around for a few days marvelling in its snow-white glory. We have good, childish fun. Everyone pitching in together with a real sense of community spirit. And then the doubters start: ‘Productivity down’, ‘feeble Britain beaten by snow’. And people want out.

I’m always sad when the board games is put away having not reached its true potential. And right now, I’m sitting watching the snow melt realising that pretty soon everything will be back to normal – the grumbling downers will have us back out of our British Blitz spirit and packing away the sledge boxes in no time.

About this entry