Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Winning the Game

D'oh the Game!!

The Game, Fille explained, has only one rule: you must never think about it. Once you think about it, you have lost. Then, wherever you are, and whoever you're with, you have to tell someone "I've just lost the Game".

But, I asked, then surely everyone who hears you will also have lost? Or what if you're alone and can't tell anyone? And, worst of all, can't people just cheat, by keeping quiet about having thought about the Game?

Apparently none of this is important. And the Game is played only by honest players. It's going round Fille's school like wildfire: so much so that a mention of the Black Hand Gang (alleged murderers of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, who turned up in a History lesson) caused some classmate who had misheard the name to exclaim "D'oh the Game!". The next History lesson included a presentation, and one further unfortunate classmate, on being asked to put up the next slide, was greeted with a screen completely blank except for the words THE GAME written in large friendly letters...it transpired that the History teacher, when still a student, had also played the Game.

I came up with the idea that anyone who (as was common at my old school) was a victim of being called a Swat, should get their own back by sitting in the front row of the class wearing an otherwise-ordinary school shirt decorated with the words "the Game" on the back. Badges with very small letters spelling out "You've just lost the Game" are also doing the rounds.

It all reminds me of that Oriental tale involving a cheeky magician who said he had an extremely powerful spell which he was willing to deploy on behalf of some rich patron, but which, he warned, would only work if the supplicant would not allow any thoughts of monkeys to cross his mind during the long incantation. I have tried this and can report, after exhaustive research, that it is impossible.

But the more you think about it, the worse it gets. There are many other things which work well until you start to think too hard about them. Any long-practiced and long-ago-mastered physical skill, for a start, falls into this group, because thinking about it brings it out from the back of the mind, which is more in touch with muscles and long-perfected skills, to the front, which is where new things are learned.

It seems that the only way of stopping this happening is to somehow perfect the ability to think, literaly, of Nothing, and defend that thought of Nothing from all possible comers.