Archive for History of Games
Welcome...to my Shed!
Pickins' have been slim in the Charity Shops of Gloucestershire in recent months; it's almost as if gamers have been paying much more attention (and much less money) for those Euro goodies (old and new) that ended up as gifts for non-gamer relatives. We've all done it: popped a minty-fresh copy of Carc or Catan or High Frontier in to Cousin Bubba's stocking in the vain hope we could make him like us, only to find him aggressively-resistant and preferring to pick his arse in front of Match of the Day instead. Or is it just me?
Thus, it took another 'away from the usual haunts' trip to happen upon a back-street Llandudno antique warehouse and - amidst the crates, drinks cabinets and stuffed geese - a remembered gem from the 1970s:
: It's almost a metre long, missus.
Back then, the TV would be saturated with adverts for this and a hundred other board games (Waddington, Milton Bradley, Parker, Spears et al); it was a pre-Trivial Pursuit era - a sort of British Silver Age - before that Q&A monster killed the fun for a million families for the next 30 years. Never mind all that; Arthur and I will be getting stuck in to this barking, bouncy shove ha'penny nonsense as soon as he gets back from his last day at school for 2016!
Finally, here's something to rekindle the Christmas fire in your bellies - I defy you NOT to feel all tinsel-strewn and 'five years old all over again' dewy-eyed:
Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:52 am
Welcome...to my Shed!
I mentioned, a short while back, that I'd been invited to the preview of a new exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood (http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/):
Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
This seemed like the perfect opportunity for Mrs B and myself to get some well-earned R&R given that the kids would be at College/School for most of the day anyway. Thus, Grandparent-ly babysitting was secured and Thursday the 6th of October, 2016 was ours to do with as we would! First up was the cross-country drive, over the Oxford plain and under a clear, hot Autumn sky, to High Wycombe - an old haunt from my working-in-London days and one that offered us the simplest, most flexible access to 'the big smoke'. It was lunchtime as the two-carriage 'local service' beetled in to Marylebone Station so we broke up the underground jaunt directly to Bethnal Green (and a good job too as it's quite "informal") by getting off the Central Line at St Pauls. Our repast was buritos - purchased from an inaudible-above-the-atmospheric-shop-music staff - and consumed within the grounds of St Pauls Cathedral. We strolled down Cheapside, cut across in to Gresham Street (paying my respects to the defunct Red Herring pub - see blog posts from 2011 and 2012) then along to a rather splendid piece of architecture...you might recognise it:
(clockwise, from top-left) Mrs B is exasperated by my preoccupation with the Guildhall; the V&A Museum of Childhood (it looks like a Victorian Tram-shed but, apparently, it was purpose built a few years back); St Pauls - splendidly massive - watches, implacably, as my soggy burito disintegrates over my chin and chest; and a black - BLACK?! - telephone box?
Riding perhaps the city's squeakiest/squealing-est tube train the remainder of the way from Bank to Bethnal Green, we emerged next to a scruffy intersection and walked the last 200 yards to the museum itself. It's FREE to enter and, at this time of day (about 3PM), remarkably free of visitors; there was plenty of room (and time) to amble about, hands clasped behind one's back, admiring the many nostalgic treasures. In particular - and I hope you'll forgive me for going on about it all over again - was the Smallfilms installation; a shipping container-sized space filled with pictures, paintings, models, equipment, puppets and other ephemera related to my most favourite memories of childhood EVER: Peter Firmin, Oliver Postgate, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, Poggle's Wood, The Clangers and Bagpuss. Mrs B is still somewhat-miffed that she was unable to come with me on my two 'special trips' whilst developing Ivor the Engine but I think seeing these priceless artifacts 'in the flesh' has gone some way to de-miffing:
(clockwise, from top-left) Noggin the Nog - note the splendid 'Ice Dragon' and the tiny, richly-coloured animation parts; Poggle's Wood puppets (the Witch, also there, is not shown to prevent nightmares); the Bagpuss tableau replete with the old moggy himself and the LEGENDARY marvellous, mechanical mouse organ
; and Clangers (and froglets...and a soup dragon)
It is impossible to convey in words, no matter how many times I try, the absolute crushing wonderfulness of the Smallfilms ouevre; it is sublime and utterly perfect.
Men at work plus a couple of 'grand views' of the Museum
Time oozed slowly in the echoing chamber and the odd, dusky light of the museum; the two of us meandered amongst the glass cabinets and the interactive areas ("Watch out! flying wooden blocks ahoy!") examining almost everything in detail...BECAUSE WE COULD! By the good Lord, it's been twenty years since we have been allowed to go at our own pace rather than be chivvied along by restless offspring: "Is it time to go yet?", "I'm hungry!" and "I'm bored now" being the usual, predictable, refrains. Not so today, huzzah! So, with the 'upstairs' still unseen, we broke for a cup of tea and some delicious cakes:
The afternoon gave way to the evening and I do believe we'd managed to see almost EVERY exhibit. Other friends and gaming world colleagues would be gathering imminently, so Mrs B and I went for a quick once around the park before bumping in to Efka from the No Pun Included YouTubes channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/NoPunIncluded) and the United Kingdom's Tallest & Most Gentlemanly Game Designer Mr James Wallis. The Museum staff asked us all to come back inside, as we were making the forecourt look untidy, so we spent the remaining 45 minutes before the Game Plan preview chinnywagging in the cafeteria.
Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
Amongst the friends and benefactors of the museum, a number of other familiar people appeared including Matt Leacock (he gets EVERYWHERE, F.F.S), David Parlett, the UK Games Expo's terrible trio (Richard, Tony and Pat) and Dávid Turczi (Days of Ire). We grabbed ourselves complimentary booze items, a handful of savoury nibbles and drank in the day's raison d'être:
You want to see the original Pandemic
prototype, you say?
, yet fun,
It was great! "Game-Plan" is a colourful, thoughtfully-curated and always-interesting pitched-to-the-masses timeline of our hobby from Senet through to Pandemic. So, while the 'modern games' section might have been lacking in anything beyond "Carc" and "TtR", I was stunned by the beauty of the vintage games on display; even a moralistic 'Snakes & Ladders' provided some wicked chuckles!
Ultimately, though, I got to spend 12 exclusive hours in the company of my best friend