The Games People Play

I had to be at work ridiculously early this morning – not early for some, but a lot earlier than I normally start. The reason was that I had to meet my lift to the ferry terminal for a meeting on the Isle of Wight, after which I had to go to Chichester for another meeting. That’s a fair amount of buzzing about, but the fact that I was a passenger did give me a chance to think about the games people play to help long car journeys pass.

The first one of these I ever learned as a little lad was “Public Houses”. This is a game for two players, each of whom takes a side of the road, and every time a pub is passed on “your” side, the number of legs in the pub’s name counts as points. For example, “The Black Pig” would score four (because the pig has four legs), “The King and Queen” is also four, and the “Coach and Horses” gets a massive sixteen (four horses with four legs each). There’s also a version of this played to cricket rules.

Consecutive Number Plate Spotting, of course, is already well known, and needs no further description from me.

Car Snooker is another good one. You need to spot a red car, followd by a yellow, brown, green, blue, pink or black one, then another red one, and so on. A white car means the end of your turn and the other player then starts scoring with the next red. It may or may not be an urban myth that bored traffic police sometimes play a version of this where they have to stop-check cars of the appropriate colours.

But a current favourite of mine – which you can really only play as a passenger – is to wait until you’re overtaking a car. Stare fixedly at the offside front wheel until you attract the driver’s attention, then look shocked. If you’ve played it right, you should be just far enough ahead that he can’t see what you do next, and will spend the next thirty miles worrying.

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