Monday, 4 August 2014

Human Croquet

Ah, the end of Summer.  Here in NI, we have mostly been deluged under some surprisingly heavy thunder showers.  And in the odd moments when the sun does shine, it feels more to me like October than August (okay, I am from Los Angeles where our Octobers are a little warmer than most).  Still, in those sunny moments I dream about late Summer garden parties where the sense of aimlessness is delicious and indulgent and nothing like my current unemployed ennui.  

In this spirit, here's a game from The Home Entertainer (1938) which might fit the bill:

   A game which provides little exercise, but plenty of laughter is Human Croquet.  A large number can take part, and no previous experience at all is required.  
   First the "hoops" must be placed in position - scattered about the field, in approximately the same fashion as for real croquet.  Each hoop consists of two people who stand facing each other, with hands clasped and arms raised so as to make an arch under which another person can walk.  It will not be necessary for the hoop to remain in this position all through the game; it is quite enough if the two people assume it whenever a player is wanting to pass.
   Each "ball" is a person who is blindfolded, and who does not move except when ordered to.
   Finally, there are the "players," each in charge of a "ball".
   As far as possible the game follows the style of ordinary croquet.  Each player has one stroke in turn, and is allowed an additional one when his ball passes through a hoop or hits another ball.
   To begin the play the first player gets his ball on the starting line, standing behind him gripping his arms, and aims him at the first hoop -  which of course the ball cannot see.  Then the player says "Go," and the ball trots forward, until his owner calls "Stop."  If the ball has passed through the hoop another "stroke" is allowed; if not, the second player makes his attempt.
   Every ball must run in a straight line, and must promptly stop when ordered.  When two balls collide the one that is struck stays where it is, but the other is given another "stroke," and ordered off afresh.  No player may speak to his ball while it is in motion, except to stop it, nor touch or re-direct it in any way.  
   That player wins who first gets his ball through all the hoops, in their proper order, and back to the starting line, or to a post at the middle of the "court".
   Interest and fun is added to the game if each player and his or her ball are made to wear some distinguishing colour - either ribbon or hat or rosette, so that couples are more obviously linked.
   Hoops must never move from their stations, and must give no indication of their whereabouts to oncoming balls.