Endsleigh Salon earlier this week and after a year or more of meeting at the hotel and bookish talk we opted for a bit of a change.The hotel was closed for decorating so we invaded someone's home for the evening and the theme was What I Got for Christmas, meaning books, not foodmixers or new slippers.
Well of course I got Bookopoly for Christmas and took that along as a semi-valid contribution and we had soon settled ourselves around the table and the game began.
Let is be said you never really know people until you sit them around a competitive game.Add in a cat called Malcolm as well and the evening was the best and possibly the rowdiest we've had. Even noisier than that Ian McEwan/ Chesil Beach debate evening.
The game is American and bookish but Monopoly just the same.You throw dice, land on books and buy them much as you would properties and charge rent accordingly, build bookshops if you get a run of three books and then a library if you manage to build four bookshops. You had to go and watch TV rather than go to jail and the utilities are replaced by genres.So the first few circuits were the usual flurry and saw heavy expenditure not unlike any of us in a real bookshop.
The Catcher in the Rye! Yes I'll buy that.
Frankenstein, oh alright then, why not.
So it went on and gradually book portfolios were accumulated.
Mine was paltry.
A few duff throws of the dice and several of us were following in the wake of the big spenders who were ripping around the board doing a bookshop trolley dash.Charlotte's Web and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry were hardly going to win me the game and indeed they didn't.
Meanwhile the evening was constantly interspersed with a regular chant from my right of "Moby Dick, that's me $26 please" because for some reason that whale was unavoidable, a nice little earner. To my left a canny gathering of titles, ruthlessly managed and all of which I seemed to land on with great regularity.
The eventual winner managed it with a single book purchase followed by several fortuitous, nay fluke turns of good fortune.
A throw of the dice which won them the jackpot of money from the middle of the board.
Dodgy income we cried, earned from all our fines as we successively landed on "Paper Mite Extermination Pay $200". A draw of the card "You're holding a creative writing workshop, all players pay you $35 to attend."
We was robbed.
In the end it was all quite fitting because what was that single winning book?
The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald.