Yesterday Jalopy and I were tootling down to Saffron Walden when I spotted a friend walking her dog. The family used to live next door, moved away about six years ago and we gradually lost touch.
Alice is now married and expecting her first baby in three weeks time. When I first met her she was 14. Brilliant with horses and highly intelligent. Our households were close, often eating together and playing games. Not Hunt the Thimble or Monopoly. We played Bob amongst the Aardvarks.
Initially we played charades. The game where one person chooses the title of a book, movie or opera and acts out each word while the rest of the group try and guess the title. At fourteen, Alice struggled as she just hadn't read as many books or seen as many films as we adults had.
So one day she made up a title. This was a book and also a movie. The title "Bob Amongst the Aardvarks" was tricky to guess but we got there eventually.
After a while we realised that making up titles was far more fun than using real ones. This required great ingenuity as every word had to be communicated and all players were in with a real chance, whatever their age. Sometimes other friends would drop by as we were playing this surreal game and just not get it at all,
"I haven't heard of that movie. Or any of those books. What's going on?"
We'd explain and they'd have a go and within minutes get hooked.
Yesterday, as I waved goodbye to Alice she called out,
I had forgotten that she used to call me Bob and that I was the heroine of her first book title. The book that changed our game playing lives forever.
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