Jan 16, 2020: Games

Games Night.

Whoop whoop.

Our first proper games night of the decade found us returning to the corridors of whatever the house is called in Betrayal in a story of derring do involving a man called Victor and a monster.

A story in which none of us were the traitor, and the game worked against us to try and defeat our plans of finding sanctuary for a monster.

A story in which I rolled incredibly badly, but which we still came out of on top. We won. We bested a haunt. As a cohesive team. And Carole, having made the winning move, became the owner of the house that no-one ever paid for, we just stumbled upon several chapters ago, fought each other for, and have owned between us ever since.

But our return to Betrayal was short-lived, as we’re already finding ourselves unable to play it for the next couple of weeks with other things just bloody well getting in the way.

We also had a dabble at Sushi Roll. A game which Carole watched a Let’s Play video of some time ago and hated with a passion. And then she played it tonight and really liked it. And won it, I think.

I, of course, won nothing. But that goes without saying. And my victories, or lack there of, are being tracked in an app now. Which is nice. Not by us, because we’re too cool for that – we just have a “today we played this…” kind of spreadsheet going on (well, it will be. At the moment it’s literally a notebook where we’ve scribbled dates and games in pencil). But there I am. In an app. There’s a pie chart of all my victories. It’s very one-colour, I think. I don’t know if it tracks positions. Maybe I get a different section for coming fourth in something. I’ll have to find out.

It was good to be back, though. Back in the nerd basement. Back amongst the sweaty Pokémon peoples and the Magic The Gathering folks.

It felt like home.

And, of course, not winning is the games equivalent of being carried over the threshold…


Jan 15, 2020: Light

Carole’s started asking about getting some app controlled lightbulbs so that we don’t have to get off the couch to, as Peter Kay would hilariously say, turn the big light on. Or off.

And we could. With a small investment of a gazillion pounds, we could get the bulbs and shout at the lights. But we’d need another hub to work alongside everything, by the looks of it, and that’s another ethernet port lost to controlling our home wirelessly from the toilet.

And aside from the fact that we’d need to hook up about three ethernet hubs to take all our existing wires, plus any new ones and be future-ready for more, there’s a bigger problem.

If you’re ever in the car with Carole and she has occassion to use her horn, you’re in for a real treat. She will shout at the offending driver, wave her arms around and struggle to find her horn before issuing what is the most pathetic little “meep” noise from the car. Often after we are now several hundred yards from the scene of the horn-requiring incident.

Using the Home Computer Robot Lady is the sams thing. It would be quicker, sometimes, to manually do whatever she’s asking than it is for her to have the HCRL do it.

Not to mention we have – at present – two plugs set up. Blanket turns on the electric blanket, bed lights up the fairy lights on the bed head. Blanket. Bed.

That’s it. Two words.

They are very rarely used. In fact Carole usually says lights, meaning the bed lights, which turns on the blanket (because of some lazy device categorising by me which I never envisionsd being a problem).

It’s a wonder our bed has never burnt to cinders.

I dread to think what would happen if we had voice-controlled lights. Just a woman shouting at bulbs, calling them all the wrong names. Our house needing to carry an epilepsy warning due to flashing lights…

If she asks again, I’ll pretend it cannot be done.

Jan 14, 2020: Rice

The first bin empty of the New Year is always exciting. Everyone’s bin is overflowing, people are sneaking stuff into each other’s bins. And more importantly, the turkey carcass that’s been festering since Christmas can finally leave on its journey to Valhalla.

Going to reclaim your bins afterwards is exciting too. Because they’re fuller than the norm, they’re more densely packed so don’t empty as well as normal.

Mrs Next Door’s bin, for example, weighed a ton after emptying. I know this as I wheeled it out of the way so I could get out of our gate. I assume it has half her rubbish still in it, but as she’s not had a special council team in to empty it (she does love things to be just so, and enjoys a good conplain to an authority) it equally wouldn’t surprise me if it was half full of cat litter so that her bin doesn’t smell.

Our bin, randomly, looks like it’s attended a wedding.

It’s just full of rice.

Well, not full, but enough rice to cover the bottom of the bin, and coat the sides. And, even better than that, the rice is slowly absorbing any bin juice or moisture in the air. Like we’re making a bin juice risotto.

We havent thrown any rice away. Where the fudge has it come from? Who throws away a nearly full bag of rice, but not in any kind of sealed container- just an open bag of rice scattered to the bin winds.

Soaking up all the manky water.

Getting mankier as it goes on.


And clinging to the sides. For ever.

There’s nothing more resistant to change than damp rice.

Jan 13, 2020: Time

Like a well-oiled machine, we popped the lid off the gaming table in double-quick time this evening and embarked on our first dabble with Time Stories.

And we sucked balls at it.

But then, I think you’re supposed to. I think that’s the point. There’s no way you can complete it in one run. It’s impossible. I mean, I’m fairly sure it’s hard as nails in any number of runs, relying on timely dice rolls to see you through without spending all of your time units of stupid things likes getting a plunger for a crazy person.

We still don’t know what it does, but the cost to find out suggests it’s all just bullshit.

But we made some in-roads into the mysteries of the game scenario, and we’ll be better prepared for a second run. Not that we will be able to remember anything in particular, I’m sure. But the theory is there. And that’s all that matters.

And, more importantly, it was a game played. Which is another tick on the things to do this year list.

And when that’s on a day where we’ve used another of our many cook books and made a soup as well, that’s a positive result. Even if we did run out of time on a run through a French Mental Asylum, where Carole released a violent loon from his bed and was then, a mere few turns later, eaten by a winged lion.

You have to find the positive in every situation.

The lion thing is a bit tricky, but everything else is positive.

And we put a few pieces together in the Mensa jigsaw which has been resting in the bowels of the gaming table since Boxing Day, taunting us with its Mensa-y-ness.

If we set up another game on top of it – a bit of Fallout, I think, for some juicy multi-houred (hopeful) fun – then the jigsaw will be inaccessible and won’t mock us for our inability to join together wavy lines (which is all the jigsaw consists of) with any great speed.


Jan 12, 2020: Phone

I’m not saying for a moment that mobile phones have made a huge impact on our lives.

But they bloody have. They’re everywhere. And you can’t not check them for messages or notifications. You can’t not look at Facebook or Instagram or any of the other gazillion apps that are all owned by Facebook (and all proudly tell you that when you open them up). You film everything, take pictures of anything that moves.

The phone has taken over.

We see it a lot at work. One of the rules of the escape room is that you can’t use your phones. Ideally, we’d like people to just put them down, completely. Leave them alone. It’s just an hour. You don’t need to check it for texts or whatever. Just leave it. You don’t need to snapchat your entire experience. Just enjoy the room and then you can get straight onto your phone when you leave. It’ll be okay.

One of my favourite moments in our rooms is one in which you’re asked to do some semaphore. Using flags, you get to signal to a team-mate who can then spell out a word and open a lock. It’s a brilliant little thing, it ticks all the team-building boxes. It’s awesome. It’s very rarely done correctly first time, either, which adds to the fun.

But then you get people who want to take a photo of the moves they need to do.

“Aww man, if we could use our phones we could take a picture, innit…” they say. Or something to that effect.

But instead they go back to waving the flags around and trying to get a word, each guessed letter written down with the pen we have provided on the paper we have also provided.

This is my hypothesis. People today are so fixated on what their phones can do, they’ve forgotten that before phones there were other ways of doing things. Instead of taking a picture, say, of five stick figures holding flags with their arms in certain patterns, you could… I don’t know… draw it using the pen and paper we’ve given you.

When the room first started, we used to hate it if anyone drew the pictures because it wasn’t in the spirit of the thing. But now it’s become more of a rite of passage for a team. If they can work out that in not being able to photograph something they would clearly have snapped as soon as look at it in the the real world, they could instead quickly sketch it then we think they’ll stand a chance.

If they spend ten minutes waving a flag around shouting, “this one’s over my minge…” (true story) then not so much.

The room also contains a land line phone.

People often don’t know how to use it. And it’s not even a rotary one. You just pick the handset up and press the buttons…

… The world is doomed.