You know what’s wrong with board games these days? They’re not tough enough. Whilst they are entertaining and enjoyable, informative and fun, maddening and frustrating at times there is nothing about them that gives the impression of tough.
Courtesy of my toxic masculinity, I have come with a new take on an existing idea that will blow all you soft willows out of the water and into the gutters. It will remove your eyes and replace them with hot coals of pain.
‘Snakes and Lads’ follows the same basic formula as its predecessor, ‘Snakes and Ladders’; you have a board with one hundred squares and the object is to get from the bottom to the top first.
You play as Tony, a right hard lad who whilst out drinking with his mates decides that they should place a little wager on who can get to the kebab shop first. His best mate, Tony, who has been sh*t-faced since 7pm is of course well up for this. His cousin, Tony, never says no to a bet and the same goes for Tony, Tony and his dad, Tony (I should mention that you don’t necessarily need six players in total but it does help).
So, as one of the Tonys, you wander through the streets trying to get to the kebab shop. If you land on a snake, you strangle it like the piece of savage meat you are. This however does mean that the time you spend boshing that sod into the next week causes you to fall behind and you go back down to the corresponding square below. If you land on a lad, you go right in for a fight with that sucker. You roll the dice and if you get an even number, you smash ‘im down. If you happen to roll an odd number he gets in a cheeky punch and you stay where you are.
The first to reach ‘The Quilted Slosh’ gets to call all the other players whoopsies and collects a tenner from each of them.
Extra points for those who sit on a steak whilst playing and eat a whole bag of sugar all at the same time.
I have never been more convinced of my genius until this idea.
I’ve been driving my car into London a lot since all this nonsense started (the global crisis, that is, not the Beans) and I’ve had cause to ditch my ride in a lot of pay and display parking bays.
Most of the time I’m parking in them when they’re free, but sometimes I need to pay for half an hour here or there if my stay overlaps with the premium parking hours.
The best way to do this is not to stand by the road, like a mug, pushing buttons on your phone to pay for something. No, the best way to do it is to park up, take a photo of the sign for reference, and then stride away like the important London man-about-town that you are, dealing with the parking admin later, perhaps while sipping an organic cappucino in a hipster café, or even better, delegating the whole problem to your PA when you arrive in your 93rd floor corner office.
I suppose what I’m saying to you is that I went back through my camera roll and, even though I usually delete them at the end of the day, I discovered that I am building up quite a collection of parking information for the streets of the West End. And, lucky for you, I am willing to share this for your entertainment and enjoyment.
I had two ideas for another post this month albeit they both stemmed from the same prospect of enraging Kevin and there is no way that I am going to post them within a few days of each other. I do like to space these things out so that Kevin’s wrath does not come down on my like a ton of spiky, explosive bricks. Also, you may as well milk this for all it’s worth because everyone loves winding Kev up as much as I do. With this in mind, let me present you with a little review of the Gameboy Colour game ‘Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!”
Hamtaro is a hugely popular Japanese series of anime, manga and video games. It follows the adventures of a group of SD (super-deformed and very cutesy) hamsters and it’s utterly insane. I want to pretend that this is completely normal but it’s not. I have played through the entire game and I am convinced it was designed by the deranged. Even I, with my bat shit crazy view of the world, found myself exclaiming out loud, not in my head, actual audible sounds, of “Eh?” and “You what?” whilst playing it. It is everything that I was hoping for and an extra box of chocolate carpets to boot.
In it you play the titular Hamtaro, a lovable hamster with a heart as huge as his eyes. The boss of your hamster clubhouse has tasked you with locating all the other twelve hamsters and bringing them back for a special surprise. As a small rodent, the human world is big and full of items that would appear normal to you and me. How are you to convince your peers to abandon whatever they’re doing and head back to he clubhouse? You do this using Ham-Chat. Ham-Chat is the secret language of the Ham-Hams whereby instead of using sensible words to describe and communicate they use slight variations or muddied portmanteaus of colloquialisms. It does seem rather odd that this fully-grown hamster does not understand basic words for ‘happy’, ‘tired’ and ‘hungry’; how has he been getting by all this time? Has he been writing down words on a pad and showing them to friends and family? Where did he buy this pad of paper, from a tiny WH Smiths? Who designed and built a WH Smiths so small only small animals can get in? There are so many questions.
So you get given a few to begin with and set off into the world to learn more words. The more words you learn the more puzzles you can solve. When I say “puzzles” what I mean is… what do I mean? You meet other Ham-Hams and they tell you things such as stories or other Ham-Chat words. You pass these on to other Ham-Hams to help them with whatever problem they’re dealing with. Occasionally you won’t be able to proceed in the area you’re in until you find the right word and backtrack to that point. Occasionally you’ll go through every word you have until you do the right thing. Occasionally you’ll have to play a mini-game where you position Hamtaro in the right place so he can head a strawberry like a football. Fruit sports.
The game is relatively open so you can wander around until you find the right thing for the right place. It’s a series of fetch quests hidden behind a brightly-coloured world of absurdity. There are eighty-five words to find in total. As this is a kid’s game, you are also given the choice of purchasing clothes and items for Hamtaro from specialist shops hidden in the game. Fancy yourself a bit of a dance guru? The words from the back of the box say it all:
“You can create dances with Ham-Chat. Every word gives you a dance step – string words together to make your own original Ham-Jam dances then link up and share with your friends.”
I didn’t get this. I mean I understand hamsters dancing but I didn’t see the point of it meaning I ignored this aspect of the game completely and went back to picking up acorns and rocks.
Though I am a little ashamed to admit it, I am still to complete my Ham-Ham Notebook having only found seventy-six of the eighty-five words in total. I appear to have hit a bit of a block where it seems as if I need to do the tiniest of little things before carrying on with the rest of the game and my poor eyes, all sets of them, don’t have the energy to go scouring through the same levels again and again trying to find whatever it is I need to do.
That said, it is a very engaging and silly game, and I enjoyed the majority of it. I first learned of it at the turn of the century and it took me until this year to play it. Twenty years of anticipation. Twenty years of sometimes looking for it on Ebay and then getting distracted by a box of hammers. As it is quite rare I could only find the game and instruction booklet so I bought a reproduction box from Etsy to house it in. Now it looks all complete and shiny the way it should. Look at it, Kev, bask in how great it looks. That repro box was well worth the money. I only wish everyone could experience the comic mischief of ‘Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!” although the chances of an HD remake or remaster are practically slim to none.
It’s a good job then that there are three (count ’em!) three other Hamtaro games on the Gameboy Colour for me to source and play. Life is good.
I know what you’re both thinking and, no, it’s not another one of my much-loved, imitated and lauded best-selling novels. Calm down my precious fans, you haven’t missed a pre-order for another first edition that you can keep your families warm with over those long winter months. This is something completely different.
Prior to being hoisted back into clothes and into the general population by work, I was having yet another sort out in order to try and fit a large amount of THINGS into the same space they’ve been living in for six months now. This requires a meticulous amount of opening boxes, sighing loudly and then trying to squish something else into it in the hope that the top will still stay on once I’ve pushed a large rectangle into a tiny triangular slot. Most of the time it works. Soon I may have to invest in some more shelves and possibly some hammocks for the corners.
I unearthed yet another pile of gibberish, which is what I refer to anything I was scribbling in prior to this post. I have a lot of it, notebooks and notebooks of word guff hastily wangled around early attempts by post-modern hedonistic oober artist, Reuben. Sandwiched in-between my original lyrics for ’10 out of 10 out of 10 (out of 10 out of 10)’ and Reuben’s sketches for something called ‘Pirate Chicken and Son’ (spoiler: you don’t need pants to be cool), there was a couple of pages you may recognise:
It’s important for a number of reasons:
It features Chris’s disgusting scrodsack of change (or was it Kev’s?);
There are a number of facts including Marshall can sense mums with his crotch, that mushrooms come last and that I am an eager-maniac;
The original appearance of cult favourite Wexford and his cheese-polishing adventures;
The height chart to explain how tall Kevin is.
I would donate the entire thing to Chris’ archives but there some boring old Christmas lists and some other questionable songs I wrote that take up the majority of the book so it would be a fool’s errand. I may carefully rip the pages out and send them via special courier so that they reach you in one piece now that Steve “Steady on, now” Steveingtons has finally given up on his restraining order and let you back in your flat.
Childhood, ah, such a bewildering time to be alive. For one, you have no responsibility and so much potential. You have no money but everything you actually need is provided to you for free. If you want to spend the entire weekend sat with your face in the television with a mouth full of marshmallows then you can, or at least until one or more of your parents objects to this. The point is that, as everyone is aware, life is so very different as a child.
I could bore you to tears with stories of my time as a tiny Ian. You may or may not have heard them already and the ones you haven’t heard are just as tedious. Believe me, I am doing you a favour by keeping my mouth shut. I haven’t quite reached the age of telling every single person I meet in the street (not that they would given how bovona has given everyone carte blanche to ignore you even if you have a leg hanging off or knife at your throat) of the time I found £1.10 in the front garden in the snow and became so excited you would have thought I had discovered the Turin Shroud hanging off the bin.
Do you remember those… things that you used to make? I want to remember the name and I don’t want to have to Google it like everything else. The power of words (Words!) don’t fail me now. You folded it up and asked someone to say a number. Then you would use your hands to move it the appropriate number of times and ask for another number, repeat, and then open one of the panels to reveal some mystifying piece of knowledge. It looked a little like this:
No, I haven’t lost my mind and made one I did something much more reasonable; I found one on the floor and brought it home. A scruff I may be and nothing more because there is no other way of finishing that sentence. I wanted to remember a time that was much more innocent, of whistle pops and candy whistles, running around the park until your lungs bled with Tizer (you know, before they changed the formula and made it taste like a shark’s coldsore). I am not clever enough to make a fully functioning version of this, nor an interactive snazzy one on a computer. I do want you to know this though:
If you pick 0 or 1: You are a banana If you pick 2 or 3: I am in love with you If you pick 4 or 5: You are in love with me If you pick 6 or 7:
Way back, many moons ago, there was a suggestion from myself that Chis and I had written to the RSPB to complain about the lack of dinosaurs. The conversation can be found in the comments below the post An Admission of Sorts, a summary is included here:
“It is a letter that needs to be sent. I imagine that much like the one me and Chris wrote to the RSPB about the lack of dinosaurs at Fairburn Inngs, it will be ignored, but it must be sent nonetheless….”
“Two things are needed here… The second is more information about the letter to Fairburn Ings, which I have no memory of.”
“Is the letter mentioned on here, Kev?”
“I’ll have a chumble[sic], it feels like it should be.”
It wasnt. There was no mention of it which led to comments such as…
“Maybe the right thing to do now is ask whether it happened at all, or whether it’s some sort of weird dream.”
Well today, I have BIG NEWS. I found it. Just the letter mind, sadly the enclosed drawing must have been a one off and is lost to the mists of time. It’s a doozy let me tell you.
Sadly Mr. Steven James never received a reply to the RSPB, it’s almost as if they didn’t take us seriously.
In a side note, the little bit in the comments below the throw away bit about a letter that might not exist, is an excellent little ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ riff from Chris and Ian. Well done chaps, it made me lols all over again.
You will never believe what just happened to me! The short version is that I am currently being paid to not work. I am at home right now not working. If I try to work I will be shouted at profusely so I am sat not working on a beanbag listening to the radio.
The year 2020 has been a strange one so far and it continues to get weirder the more we slide through it. The outside world is still there, I can see it, through the big windows in the living room, and it looks fantastic. I reckon that for the moment I am going to stay here and admire it from afar. Besides, it looks a little chilly and I’ve got this patch of dry skin on my hands that the low temperature will not do any favours for.
I have decided to try and do one drawing, sketch or doodle a day for something to look forward to and possibly upload on Twitter (the Book of Faces does not deserve my “talents”) for the world to admire. I hope to have a wall of my efforts with which I can look back on and laugh slobbily, possibly sell to some passing rich aristocrat (they’re always using the footpaths round here) and then retire to the country, doing the same thing I’m doing now, but with a little more style, panache and some hot ladies in a hot tub serving hot drinks.
It was inevitable. You know how funny we are, right? How right on the fashions we are when it comes to news, pop culture and, indeed, fashion itself. It was only a matter of time before our amusing jokes about Kevin stretched into the cosmos and all and sundry (sundry, indeed) were swallowed up in the process. Take no prisoners because the Fraternity of Zingers is officially open.
I could stand in the corner, cracking off zingers like they were toffees, but it’s not going to change anything. I need a brotherhood who have got my back to help me spread the good word, the good humour and the good times involved with zingers. Who doesn’t love a good zinger? They’re fast, funny and fruity like the best kind of sandwich. woman. Bring me a big fat plate of fruity zingers so I can chow down like the rest. I want to take my fill of the choicest cuts and you can too.
There’s no paperwork involved. You don’t need to officially sign up like you would for a Direct Debit. All I need to know is if you’re in for the wild ride. All I need from you is confirmation that you want to be part of a family, the closest damn family you’ll ever have. When you crack off a zinger about the news I’ll be right beside you, cracking one back about haircuts or gardening.
A bell in the bush is worth two in the hand, after all.
Even if you’re not particularly hilarious you can still join, we want you! You will learn from the best and under our sweaty wings you will rise the ranks of the Zinger Elite.