What Board Games Mean to Me

What Board Games Mean to Me

I’m delighted to announce that I have an essay in the forthcoming collection, What Board Games Mean to Me, published by Aconyte, alongside such key figures in modern-day gaming as Sir Ian Livingstone (Warhammer and Fighting Fantasy), Reiner Knizia (too many games to list!) and Leslie Scott (Jenga), as well as fellow wordworker in the dark grimness of the far future, Gav Thorpe. It was an honour to be asked to contribute.

My essay, ‘Learning the Rules’, tells how playing games helped us as a family. It begins:

I was halfway down the road, the crash of the front door slowly dying away behind me, when I realized that, perhaps, it was not just the children who might benefit from learning to play board games. In my – somewhat feeble – defense, I had been on the point of winning Power: The Game (a Diplomacy derivative with added tanks and missiles) when everyone else in the family ganged up on me and destroyed my army. Even so, given that I was one of the adults in the room, my reaction – announcing that I was never going to play with them ever again if they cheated like this and then storming out of the house, slamming the door behind me – was perhaps not likely to make an appearance in any manuals of good parenting.

There’s many more takes on what gaming means, from designers through to players, so if you have ever despaired of finishing Monopoly or come last at Ludo, this is the book for you!

Chickenshed on Britain’s Got Talent

All three of my sons have been members of Chickenshed Theatre. The youngest, Isaac, was one of the members of the Chickenshed group that appeared on Britain’s Got Talent on 22 April, receiving the golden buzzer from Alesha Dixon. Isaac is the boy with curly hair and we couldn’t be prouder of him and all the rest of the troop!

I’m Back!

A long time since I posted anything on my blog, but we were away for the summer in Sri Lanka, visiting the land of my father. Here’s a photo of me and my boys, trying to work out where we were going to go next!

‘I’m sure this isn’t on the map.’

More about the trip later, but for now, some big news and announcements that I’ll make in the next couple of posts.

A Solution to an Age-Old Problem


I offer here, free of charge and entirely without obligation, a solution to the age-old problem of how to get your son or daughter out of bed in the morning. Whisper in his or her ear, as they burrow down under the duvet trying to get away from you, the words, ‘It’s snowed,’ and, I guarantee, the child in question will rocket out of bed as if a Saturn V launcher has ignited under the mattress.

It will help, of course, if it actually did snow overnight (which it did yesterday here in London) and, even more so, if this is the first snow of the winter (which it was).

There, problem sorted. The said child (or children) will be downstairs, dressed, breakfasted and ready to go within five minutes. All you then have to do is find the slope and off they go!



A new me

I have spent quite a lot of time – probably more than I should – on author photographs: tilted head, rested on pensive finger; serious, face on, stare; pencil portrait. But now I realise all that thought was wasted. What people really want is a baby grimace! So, I present to you my new author photograph: Isaac, with supporting role played by me.

E and Isaac small

The Unexpected Relief of Fatherhood


Of all the deep joys that fatherhood brings, perhaps the most unexpected but the most beneficial for me has been the final, definitive permission to not put myself at the centre of everything. As a teenager and for far too many years as an adult, what I wanted – my hopes, ambitions, desires – were at the centre of who I was and, not to put too fine a point upon it, I was beginning to bore myself to tears. Middle-aged teens are ridiculous in many ways, but in none more so than in their self obsession. Having children meant, finally, that my own desires, ambitions and hopes, the whole question of who am I, no longer really mattered, and what an unexpected, joyous release that has been.

So, thank you, Theo and Matthew. You’ve been the making of me.