Tuesday, 13 December 2016
During a certain period of my childhood Saturday night was very habitual. Dad went to the Broadgreen Abbey Hotel to meet some of his friends and Mum and I and younger brother CJ went to our maternal grandmother’s house about 15 minutes walk away. There was no television, of course, so we usually played games: cards or dominoes being the most usual so far as I can recall although we did play some simple board games too like Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. The card games were usually Newmarket, chase the ace and rummy.
I should add that later, until my grandmother came to live with us, Dad or Mum (often accompanied by CJ or I) went to my grandmother's for supper every night around 9pm to check that she was okay.
This was all brought back to mind this week when, having finished a complete refurbishment of the main guest bedroom, I started moving things from their current temporary homes to a new storage place in the bedroom. One of those things was the stock of games I have kept: some of which date back to those days at my grandmother’s.
Almost all the games were inherently 'betting' games (eg Newmarket or chase the ace) and, of course, lives had to be won and lost and scores had to be kept. For that purpose and when playing 'Put and Take' (see the little brass spinner in the beans) we had my grandmother's tin of beans: the St Bruno Flake tin with the very beans we used back then. Later when I had my own family we used the Marmite jar filled with dried fruit stones. I cannot remember when the tiddlywinks first came into the family but, of course, we had some of them (and probably that box) since the '50s anyway.
I used to play rummy, cribbage and dominoes with Dad. I occasionally won at rummy but at the other two Dad was unbeatable. These dominoes are not from that era but Dad made the cribbage board out of a slab of solid brass and the holes were square(ish) to take the Swan Vestas matchsticks Dad used to light his pipe.
In those days Patience was played a great deal as it was until the presence of versions of patience appeared on every mobile device. Generally we used ordinary playing cards but most had 'travel packs' for playing in more confined spaces from one's hospital bed to railway carriages.
As a child I loved draughts (another game that Dad usually dominated in the winning stakes) and chess (a game Dad didn't play). My first chess set was this boxwood Staunton set but when I went into hospital for several longish spells when I was in my mid teens a lady who lived nearby gave me the red-boxed travel set which I used for many many decades. I am astonished that it has survived so well.
Two games my wife and I played were Bezique and Othello