Austerity, it seems, means that more of us are staying at home this Christmas and making our own fun. According to the Telegraph’s Harry Wallop, sales of board games are up this year, and they are especially popular among 7 to 12-year-olds.
But some of the traditional games could probably do with an update so, just as we had some more modern pantomimes last year, here is a 2010s remake of that old family favourite Cluedo.
As most of us know, Cluedo is a murder mystery which takes place in a big old house. But the old house parties of the upper classes are now a thing of the past. After the old duke died, the big house fell into disrepair. The duke’s relatives sold it off in the 1980s. The council bought it and tried to run it as a community centre until it, too, ran out of funds, at which point the crumbling wreck was sold for a knock-down price to an international management consultancy who converted it into a conference and training centre.
The layout has therefore changed somewhat. The Library was the first to go, being replaced by the Digital Resource Centre, the running of which is now outsourced to a shadowy ‘social enterprise’ believed to be financed by a Russian oligarch. The Dining Room has been renamed the Refectory. It too is subcontracted to an external supplier. The Ballroom has become the Conference Room and the Study is now the Boardroom. A long and incongruous extension has also been added, containing extra bedrooms and Syndicate Rooms 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. A bar selling outrageously priced imported lagers has been added to the Lounge.
The characters have changed too. Professor Plum’s research grant was cut and the drop in students after the introduction of tuition fees saw his department closed altogether. He took up a post at Peking University last year where, he claims, his work will be valued and, more importantly, funded. Colonel Mustard won’t be there either. His regiment was axed in the last round of defence cuts and he now works as a private security consultant in Iraq.
Reverend Green was supposed to be attending but protesters have camped outside his church and are refusing to leave. They had planned to picket the mansion of evil banker Freddie Sludge but the private security guards trained by Colonel Mustard drove them off and they have been in Rev. Green’s churchyard ever since.
Mrs White is no longer at the house either. Her job disappeared when the catering was outsourced.
Not to worry, though, because there are plenty of new characters. Thanks to the benefits of outsourcing, the house now has two Mrs Whites for the price of one. Her old salary is more than enough to pay for two replacements. Latin American Manuela Blanco and African Sylvie Blanc are both in the UK illegally, which means they don’t even have to be paid the minimum wage. This is, of course, against the law but, should the Border Agency raid the conference centre, none of the mud will stick to the management consultancy which owns it. The restaurant is outsourced to a company which gets its staff through an agency which sources them through a gangmaster. In the event of a legal a row, the owners are well insulated.
There are some new characters among the guests too. First to arrive were smooth PR professional Davey Turquoise and his number two, Nicky Yellow. (Titles are so old-fashioned aren’t they?) Shortly afterwards, earnest young journalist Eddie Pinkish turned up and he has done nothing but row with Dave and Nick ever since, though he usually seems to come off worst. Davey, though, has a knack for winding people up. He’s already upset the German delegate, Angela von Gold. He enraged the French guest, Nicholas D’Argent, so much that he spent much of the evening shouting and stomping around the garden. American visitor Barack Beige and his accountant, Timothy Greenback, looked on with a mixture of horror and disbelief.
The arrival of international somethingorother Tony Translucent seems to have calmed things down, though. He has spent much of the evening with Frau von Gold and M D’Argent, reminiscing about the good times, when they all had money.
Meanwhile, in the corner of the bar, posh journo Boris Blue and cockney street-fighter Kenny Red are quarreling loudly over who is going to run the conference sports day, due to be held in the grounds later in the week.
Other characters to watch are eco-warrior Caroline Green, opinionated Sarah Palin wannabe Nadine Puce and morose banker Mervyn Mauve.
The potential murder weapons have changed too. Out go the candlestick and lead pipe. In come the iphone charger, the PowerPoint projector and the unachievable austerity programme.
The scene is set, then, for hours of family fun, trying to unravel the most famous murder of all time. Of course, as yet, we don’t know who killed Doctor Black. My money, though, is on Dave and Nick, in the Conference Room with the totally pointless organisational restructure.
Have a great Christmas folks and enjoy it, whatever games you play!
Hat Tip to Graham Salisbury for the conversation which led to this post.