The Holidays are bearing down fast and, for many of us, this will entail spending time with our families. Families: can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em - and believe me I've tried, but the little blighters will insist on running for the hills when they see me oiling the Purdey Sporter 12-bore.
Out of the goodness of my heart, I am taking time from my busy schedule** to post details of a game you can play whilst visiting your family.
Every family, however lovely and loving it might be, contains at least one Dreadful Relative. It is The Law. It was constituted in 1370 - along with the legally-enforced wearing of caps in order to boost the woollen trade - and has never been repealed. If you are without a Dreadful Relative, then keep it under your cap (which you don't have to wear, by the way, as that law was repealed - in 1390) because if The Government gets wind of it they'll assign you one.
(By this I mean they'll assign a Dreadful Relative, not a cap because I hope I've made it clear you don't actually have to wear one any more. Yes, I know I told you that you had to, but it was a joke. You know, something funny. All right, well, you didn't find it as funny as I did. Yes, yes, you've made that clear. Look, can we talk about this later? I'm in the middle of a blog. Don't slam the -.)
Where was I? O, yes. I had a wonderfully Dreadful Relative; Great Aunt Edie. She never improved with age - except in wickedness.
"New frock? Doesn't suit you. I didn't think you could gain any more weight but I was wrong. Girls who think they're clever seldom are."
Wasn't she dreadful? (I miss her so.)
The Rules of the Game
You will need a small square of paper and a pen. Yes, that is all! It's a marvel.
Divide your sheet of paper into squares and in each square write a favourite dictum of the Dreadful Relative. (I was going to write bon mot, but Dreadful Rellies are rarely bon.) Examples might include:
I see you're completely bald now.
Still doing that boring job?
I don't think you need another scone.
You've been a great disappointment to your father, you know.
Your uncle drank, too.
You're looking very tired. No, haggard. Definitely more haggard than tired.
It's a shame the children take after you in looks.
And so on. I expect you all have your own examples.
Now, this is where the game becomes challenging. You must set time and prize bands for each comment. Does your D.R. launch straight into the plain speaking or do they need time to warm up?
If the D.R. refers to your weight within the first ten minutes of the visit, then you may award yourself a bottle of Champagne. If it takes an hour for the D.R. to tell you you've got fatter, then you win a bottle of South African White (c. £5.00 mark). If it takes over two hours for the comment to be made, then you win a packet of Maynard's Wine Gums.
You set the time bands and decide on the prizes, according to personal taste.
You see, the absolute and utter GENIUS of Dreadful Relly Bingo is that you positively anticipate the cutting comments. In fact, you are willing the Dreadful Relative to be rude because you know that at home there are several bottles of Champagne, cheap white wine and stacks of wine gums nicely chilled (and stacked) in preparation for your triumphant, nay, victorious return.
* Dreadful Relly Bingo, from an original idea by Cro Page
** I've bought an iPhone and I'm downloading a map of the stars and a compass so I will always know where North is, even in places like Surrey where there are no hills to guide me. Has there ever been a flatter, duller county?