I'm not a competitive person by nature. I like to play fairly and I prefer it if I feel I have played well - but I don't actually have to win, to enjoy the game.
Not everyone believes me when I say this. The thing is, if you have a family as competitive as mine, then something is bound to rub off. Which means that, when I take part in any competition with non-family members, I am generally considered
to be steely in my determination to grind the opposition into the ground. Within the distinctly more combative realm of my family, I am labelled a pushover.
Every Boxing Day when the kids were young,
we used to stage a Ball Family Championship, lasting most of the day and involving more or less every board game we possessed. I only ever won at "Boggle" and I invariably came last overall. The whole family always fell out big-time by the
time we reached the penultimate game and every year we vowed we would Never Ever Do This Again. Come next Boxing Day, of course, and all was Forgiven and Forgotten - but only for the length of time it took to play Ludo, or Cluedo or whatever
was the first game on the Ball Championship Play List.
I was contemplating all of this when grand-children Jack and Hazel took to the stage in the grandly-named Tudor Rose Dance Festival. Now
this was competition with a capital "C". First up was their gutsy rendition of "I Could Do Without You" from Calamity Jane. Enter Hazel, in full stage make-up and her Calamity Jane outfit. "I look," she said, despairingly, "Like a tart in pyjamas..."
I was moved to disagree, and had to comment that, compared with the vision of her in the teddy-bear "onesie" she was wearing when she retired to bed last night, I thought this morning she
looked quite, well, normal....
But, oh dear, this Dance Festival lark brought out the worst in me. As I watched the Adjudicator sternly appraising each performance, I had this
almost irresistable urge to keep changing my seat during Jack and Hazel's performances. That way, I could seek to sway the Adjudicator's opinion by making whispered but distinctly audible comments about the brilliance of their singing,
the agility of their dance moves, the exuberance of their story-telling - well, you probably have the idea by now. And the fact that these oh-so-positive comments would be coming (apparently) from all around the room, would be sure to influence the final
scores, don't you think...
I didn't, dear readers. I am just too law-abiding, too honest, too committed to seeing fair play. Apart from that I just knew I would make too
much noise moving about the room, falling over my feet, dropping my water bottle, knocking against other spectators and loudly panting with the effort of it all.
Imagine the scene: "We did pretty well,"
they would have modestly told anyone who asked. "But Nanna was disqualified..."