Claire Black: What life lessons can be learned in half an hour?

Claire Black
Claire Black
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NEVER let it be said that I am a slavish follower of rules. Pah! I laugh in the face of rules.

Proof? I sometimes leave the house without eating breakfast. On occasion I have slipped a foreign coin in amongst the change I use to pay my bus fare. Steady, here comes the doozy: I choose not to wear a helmet when I’m on my bike.

For each of these transgressions I am willing to face the opprobrium of society. And by that, I mean the (usually mild) disapproval of people who know me and might choose to comment. Don’t I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Has it never crossed my mind that if everyone was to imitate my shoddy behaviour the bus companies would go bust? When I’m splattered on the road, will I accept that my sartorial sensitivity was spectacularly silly?

But what I cannot accept is that the rules of Monopoly, which ensure a game can take so long to conclude one can veritably lose the will to live and then find it again, should be changed to create a version of the game that can be done and dusted in 30 minutes. I beg your Park Lane (£350, always one of my favourites)? Half an hour? What life lessons can be learned in that paltry passage of time?

Yes, OK, you might get once round the board, collecting 200 quid for passing Go. It’s possible you might even pick up a utility company or perhaps even a station. You might get a sniff of Community Chest or luck out with the old Free Parking, but none of these things is what Monopoly is about. Monopoly is for learning that things that start off being fun, don’t always remain fun.

It’s about understanding that there is a member of every family as avaricious as Grandfather Smallweed from Bleak House, even if on the surface they all seem quite nice. It’s about accepting the fact that yes, he is your father, the man you look up to and admire, but he cannot be trusted as banker after that year when he was found with several fifties tucked in his sock. And yes, she is adorable Auntie Beryl, but she’s got two hotels on Mayfair and you’re a goner.

Don’t those fools at Hasbro realise that Monopoly is a “bored” game? Can’t they see that pandering to the addled brains of children wasted on apps will spell our ruin?

The future is all about “snack games” they say. “Parents and children tell us they want a frictionless gaming experience,” they bleat. No, no, no. This is not about giving people what they want, but giving them what they need. Life is friction, there is no quick version.

And don’t even get me started on Scrabble Flash…

YOU’VE seen the reports this week that the North Pole is now a lake? No, you haven’t. Oh well, sorry to break it to you so abruptly. It’s just that, according to the North Pole Environmental Observatory’s webcam, since 13 July an aquamarine lake has been forming where there are usually ice sheets whipped by freezing winds. Temperatures have been one to three degrees Celsius above average this year and, although the ice cover expands and contracts every year with the changing seasons, last summer’s minimum was the lowest on record and this year’s maximum coverage was the sixth lowest since records began. Now, I know that the old climate change issue makes certain people come over all well, angry, but a lake at the North Pole – that cannot be good.

IT’S less than 50 days to the Cycletta Scotland event, a women-only bike ride that kicks off at Scone Palace. That means there is plenty of time to get your entry form in. Come on, why not? Reasons to do it include: there are three levels (novice, classic and challenge) so you don’t have to break yourself in order to take part. Also, there’s a Cycletta Spa so that if you accidentally do break yourself, when you get to the end there will be a friendly soul in a tent who will help to disentangle your calf muscles. And, it’s open to girls over 12 so you can take your daughters to share the cycling goodness across generations. Oh, and you get a goody bag and a natty medal. Go to for more information. «

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