Fiendish Games

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Cast of characters

So, here we are in our new location, the Fiendish Board games web site.

Some of you may be unfamiliar with the cast of characters in the Fiendish firmament, so here is a quick primer.

Humans

Johnny Fiendish

That’s me. If you asked Mrs Fiendish for a one word description of me, it would be “smartarse”. I’d go with “short arse”. Others have proffered “chirpy”.

Since being made redundant in late 2006 I’ve been cagey about revealing my age on the Internet, but what the hell? This year, my age will be the same as the year in which I was born, which makes me 1,007 years old. I know; I don’t look a day over 500.

I am a journalist by trade, writing about growth companies (stock market code for “companies that don’t make money”). Most of the time I write for an online financial news site but occasionally I get paid to write articles for a well-known mid-market national tabloid newspaper that has, if reports are to be believed, the most popular online newspaper web site in the world.

When I left school, it was my ambition to become a journalist but had you told me back then that one day I would write for the most popular online newspaper web site in the world, I would have said: what the hell is an online newspaper?

Yes, I am that old.

I trust the above explains why I do not update this blog as regularly as I used to pre-2007 when I was in a boring management role that did not require me to do much writing.

My main interests are: music (rock & soul, plus a little bit of jump-blues); football (Spurs); board games; stand-up comedy; words and lazing about.

Mrs Fiendish

Mrs F is several years younger than I am, though her claim to be 37 is somewhat undermined by the fact that this year we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. My name is not Johnny Lee Fiendish …

No one ever asks us the secret of a long and successful marriage, but if someone did, we’d probably say: not living in each other’s pockets; being devoted to each other when in each other’s company; having kids.

More about those kids in a short while.

Mrs Fiendish has two psychology degrees and is firmly of the opinion that every problem has a solution, whereas I tend to subscribe to the view that, if at first you don’t succeed, give up and try something else.

As the old gag has it, I make all the important decisions in our household, such as how to reconcile the North & South Koreans, what our policy is on charitable donations to countries ruled by despots, etc., while Mrs Fiendish handles all the trivial stuff, like where we should live, whether we should be permanently on our kids’ backs about their homework/coursework, what utility providers we should use and who to call to fix the leaky roof.

She was made redundant late last year and is currently enjoying being at home while simultaneously getting annoyed at how slow the whole recruitment process is. She is not known for her patience.

Number one son

It is hard to believe, but number one son is now 23 years old. He is studying Marketing at Kingston Uni, so is probably under about 15 feet of water right now.

He is dyslexic, so, in my admittedly biased opinion, I think he has done extremely well to get as far in life as he has. We are talking about a person who cannot learn the order of the months in the year and like many others, I ascribed this to laziness on his part. On the other hand, if he could be bothered to learn how to use the calendar apps on his mobile phone, that would be a start ...

While he has not been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, number two son has, and number one has the same symptoms, only more so. When he was diagnosed as a dyslexic, the evaluator was amazed at how poor his short-term memory is, and considered it remarkable that he could function as well as he does.

He loses his driving licence about once a month, his passport about every three months and his mobile phone about every six months – he puts them down, and forgets to pick them up – so you have some idea of what a nightmare he must be to live with.

Nevertheless, his friends seem to put up with him because he is bloody good company, and his current side-line of organising club nights in Kingston is one to which he is very well suited.

He likes a good argument, though he would probably disagree with that assertion, unless I suggested he does not like a good argument, in which case he would almost certainly argue that he does.

Notwithstanding the shitty genes he has inherited from his parents, he shows every sign of getting on in the world and being a nice person to spend time with, which are the basic requirements from a child-rearing perspective, I feel.

Number two son

Is 21 and is a talented artist, as can be seen on several walls in the Enfield area. He’s doing a graphic design foundation degree at university, and has applied to do a pukka graphic design degree at Norwich Uni. If they turn down his application he says he is going to go to Australia for a year and maybe take number one son with him.

I have mixed feelings about that, not least because he is the only one of my three sons who interacts with me on a regular basis.

At home, number two son has had the lowest maintenance requirement of my progeny. Outside of the home, he has been a problem child, and spent his teenaged years being shunted from school to school to special educational unit.

When he was about 15, he was diagnosed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which explains a lot.

“He gets that from you,” said Mrs Fiendish to me one day. “Except the H bit.”

We share several interests: sense of humour (Stewart Lee, Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, Buster Keaton); music; mythology; trivia.

We also share a car.

His singing voice is almost identical to mine. He was using the en-suite bathroom in the master bedroom once, singing in the shower, and Mrs Fiendish assumed it was me and walked in on him as he was scrubbing his armpits and what-not.

Ways in which he is not like me: artistic ability, peacock dress sense.

Number two son is from the Chris Eubank school of sartorial elegance, and likes nothing better than top hats, walking sticks, fob watches and … hang on a minute! I wonder if he is a pimp.

If number one son is the commercially motivated member of the family, number two is the bohemian artist. I am not sure he is going to “get on in life” as well as his elder brother, but I am pretty sure he will have a happy existence.

Number three son

The baby of the family is 19 and is studying social care & psychology at Bedford University – i.e. Luton Polytechnic.

He is the introverted son, and may possibly be a vampire, as he is rarely seen in sunlight. In fact, he is rarely seen out of his bedroom.

No one’s idea of a go-getting ball-breaker, his goal in life is to help people, so long as it does not involve him getting out of bed before five PM.

He has various health problems that have baffled some of the finest medical minds in the country, including the specialists at Great Ormond Street hospital. He has constant back pain, which means he does not get much sleep, hence the tendency to laze in bed all day.

Every specialist he has seen has told him he needs to do more exercise but: (a) he’s permanently tired; (b) it is painful to exercise, so he just becomes more sedentary and unwell.

I must confess to being a little bit worried about him, but then at various stages I was immensely worried about his elder brothers, so maybe it is just a case of being patient and letting him work through his problems.

Animals

Scratch & Kipper

These are our two dogs. Scratch is a Lakeland Terrier/whippet cross, and is a bit like a coconut mat on legs. Kipper is a pure bred whippet, and is as dim as they come.

I would, however, recommend whippets as pets as they are gentle and don’t need much exercise.

Teddy, Albert & Biskit

These are our three cats, though technically Teddy belongs to number two son.

“Teddy Is a Beast”, as he is usually called, is a big, black cat that does all he can to avoid confrontation with the other two (much smaller) cats.

Albert is a dinky black & white cat, with wild whiskers; hence we named him after Mr Einstein.

Biskit is about a year old and is a ginger cat that looks set to be big and fat.

We also have two or three turtles, that number one son left behind when he went to Uni.

My own personal preference would be not to have any pets while both adults in the house are working (though, of course, Mrs F currently is not working) but, as I say, I don’t get any say on such decisions in our household.

Addendum: Number two son bought a baby hedgehog yesterday. It is undeniably cute, but I don't fancy his chances of smuggling it into Australia if he opts to spend a year down under if he does not get into university.
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