Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to be bored. Correction, I wasn’t allowed to say I was bored.
“Being bored shows a lack of imagination,” my parents would crossly shout as they walked away.
Or: “You can’t be bored, you’ve got so many toys.”
Or: “If you’re bored, you’re lazy.”
And finally: “Find something to do. I used to entertain myself for hours when I was your age.”
And despite all my best efforts to avoid turning into my parents when it comes to my own offspring, I find myself yelling similar things at my own children. And occasionally other people’s.
Actually, not similar things. Exactly the same things.
I’ve even tailored one of my own: “You’re bored? Me too, by you constantly saying you’re bored.”
As a family we didn’t play board games. A very competitive Dad and an impatient Mum meant suggestions of playing a game were normally met with incredulity at best.
We didn’t have the Monopoly on boredom. But it was the board game to end all board games when bored at other people’s houses. The one to play when being shipped off to another room to entertain ourselves with other people of similar ages to ensure the adults could drink in peace.
My own children have been given the junior version of the game to go and entertain themselves and other children when drinking in peace is required by me.
For a while my younger sister collected “special edition” sets of Monopoly but noone was allowed to actually play with them in case by Chance the Community Chest cards got dog-eared or a pet swallowed an hotel.
And then there was the division of the sexes clearly flagged by Risk.
Few girls would agree that devoting hours to achieve global domination on paper (cardboard) using plastic armies and dice was a) a good use of one’s time and b) interesting in any way.
But boys? Boys loved to play. Especially if it involved going into the “wee hours” of the night to crush an opponent who had also suffered a knock back from a girl earlier in the evening so rendering the question “have we got anything better to do?” rhetorical.
And then there were those board games you knew were educational by stealth, led by Scrabble.
Adults continue to play today, mostly to show off to each other their vocabulary. Luckily for me obscenities and swear words remain legitimate and while I should know better, I do enjoy putting cunts down on a triple word score.
The other memory that pops when I think of board games is my Scottish Granny’s love of playing on two conditions: Some level of betting and money changing hands should be involved and the game should have the potential for vicious, game-changing moves by one player against another.
And if there was the chance that other players could gang up and prevent the clear frontrunner from winning, all the better.
A vicious, brilliant tactician with eye-watering quantities of good luck, Granny loved to shout “sorry” with a big, ironic grin across her wrinkled fizzog, as she swept the kitty winnings into her purse.
She also loved Draughts. Couldn’t play chess though.
I’ve got a small collection of chess sets and my Granny is dead. And occasionally, I let people play. Check, mate.