The Italian elbow game

This is a game I usually play in Italian restaurants, to check if the staff are authentic Italians. It's dead easy to play: all you need to do is to challenge them to say the word elbow in Italian.

The following conversations happened on Saturday evening:

Me [pointing dramatically at my elbow]: What's the Italian for elbow?
Head waitress: Gomito.
Me: That's right!
Head waitress: I know.

(A short while later.)

Me [pointing dramatically at my elbow]: What's the Italian for elbow?
Other waitress: I don't know, I'm Polish.
Me: I meant, what's the Polish for elbow?
Polish waitress: Łokieć.
Me: That's right!

Just doing my bit for international relations after all that nasty Farage nonsense.

The Paparazzo Game redux

I decided to challenge Stense to a round of the Paparazzo Game on Monday. As you might remember, this involves me trying to take paparazzi-type photos of Stense, while Stense tries to avoid being photographed.

This time, I was sneaky. This time, like a true paparazzo, I lay in wait.

I'd had a tip-off that Stense would be taking the south-bound exit at junction 37 of the M6 at 10:00. So I hid out on a hillside overlooking the junction with my telephoto lens at the ready. Stense was being sneaky: she arrived eight seconds early. But I was ready for her:

Stense leaving J37 of the M6 at 09:59:52 on Monday.

Later, being even more sneaky than Stense, I managed to take a photo of the two of us together, without her even realising it. I used my special fish-eye dog-eye lens:

Stense and me in her dog's eye.

OK, I guess you win this round, Stense. But there's always next time. You have been warned!

The Devil Woman Game

Whenever I attend a pop concert to watch a popular crooner perform their greatest hits, I like nothing better than to play The Devil Woman Game. The rules are rather complicated, but this video should give you the basic idea:

The Paparazzo Game

Whenever we get together, Stense and I like nothing better than to play the Paparazzo Game. It's dead easy to play, and great fun for almost both of the contestants.

Basically, the Paparazzo Game is a rôle-playing game in which one of you (in our case, Stense) plays an A-list celebrity chick who has got herself embroiled in some tawdry, titillating scandal, while the other player (in our case, yours truly) plays top paparazzo photographer and guttersnipe, Ricardo Carteri, who has been hired by failing Italian scandal rag Il Grutzia to get some exclusive shots of said chick for their website.


Speak to the hand… Stense is so good at this game.

The challenge for the celebrity chick is to avoid getting photographed altogether, or to spoil the paparazzo's photos by obscuring her face with anything that happens to come to hand (which, in most cases, is her actual hand). The challenge for the paparazzo is to obtain unobscured shots of said chick—preferably with her jugs out.

Apart from that, as with the real paparazzi, there are absolutely no rules: the paparazzo can use any sneaky, underhanded trick he likes to try to obtain the exclusive shots.

As luck would have it, after a fantastic day out in Conwy last Friday (photos here), Stense and I found ourselves in an exclusive yet discreet Chester hotel. Now, I know what you're thinking, but there might be a perfectly innocent explanation… But what better place to play the Paparazzo Game?

So play it we did. And, I am proud to announce, I rose to the occasion magnificently by coming up with two of the sneakiest, underhandedest tricks in the history of the game: I conveniently neglected to tell Stense that we were actually playing the game, and I waited until her hands were full before I pulled out my camera.

"That is so not fair!" complained Stense, immediately conceding defeat. But any tactic is fair in the Paparazzo Game—that's the whole point:

To cap it all, if you study the above footage from timestamp 00:01 to 00:04 very carefully, you can quite clearly see both of Stense's jugs, captured for posterity.

What is that unusual smell wafting into my flaring nostrils? Why, yes, I believe it must be none other than the sweet smell of VICTORY!

The Talking With Americans Game

To win, all you need to do is engage some Americans in polite conversation, then ask them which part of Canada they're from before they ask you if you're from Australia.

Sounds dead simple, but I'm 3–0 down at the moment.

The Hit-Nun

Whenever Jen and I are in Italy, we like to play the Nun Game. Well, to be honest, it's just me who likes to play the Nun Game; Jen thinks it's silly and usually refuses to play to begin with, until her naturally competitive nature kicks in:

"Look a nun! Ten points! Yes!"
"I'm not playing."
"… Oh look, another nun! Ten more points!"
"… And there's a nun reading a newspaper. 20 points!"
"No way is a nun reading a newspaper worth 20 points!"
"You're just jealous because I'm on 40 points. That's 40 points to nil. You're rubbish at this game!"
"I'm not falling for it. I'm not playing your silly nun game."
"NUN ON A BIKE!! Forty-all! Yes!"

Last week, Jen and I were crossing a zebra crossing on our way to the Vatican. In Italy, zebra crossings don't indicate any right-of-way for pedestrians; they are merely there to inform drivers that they should swerve to avoid any pedestrians on them, rather than beeping their horns at them for being in the middle of the road.

Jen was a couple of paces in front of me on the zebra crossing, when a Fiat Panda came screeching round the corner and headed straight at her. Jen had to run to avoid being hit.

"Did you see that?!!" said Jen, after I'd caught up with her.
"Yes. What an idiot!"
"It was a nun! That's got to be worth a couple of hundred points: having a nun try to assassinate you with a Fiat Panda!"

I stopped playing at that point.

The Sistine Chapel Game

OK, I don't do this very often, so listen up: I'm about to say something nice about the Vatican…

The Vatican has a rather good set of museums, and, unlike most museums I have been in, they are happy to let you take photographs of their exhibits. Good on them!

Apart from in the Sistine Chapel, that is.

I don't know why they won't let you take photos in the Sistine Chapel—the copyright on Michelangelo's famous ceiling must have lapsed by now, and it's not as if you're going to do any harm taking a few snaps, provided you don't use your flash.

Ordinarily, apart from when I'm at rugby matches, I reluctantly abide by photography bans. But, when I found myself in the Sistine Chapel last week, and I saw the hundreds of other tourists gawping (sic) up at the ceiling, while frantic museum guards ran amongst them shouting, "No photo! NO PHOTO!", I suddenly had a flash of inspiration, and invented the Sistine Chapel Game:

Me and the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Vatican


The Sistine Chapel Game is very easy to play: you simply have to take a photograph of yourself in the Sistine Chapel (with the ceiling in shot), without being caught by any of the guards.

So I eased my camera out of its bag and fired off a few shots.

"No photo! NOOOOOO PHOTO!" shouted a guard up at the front, who then started barging through my fellow tourists towards me. I quickly turned my back and pushed my camera back into the bag.

The guard practically swam through the crowd straight at me, then, at the very last second, veered to the left and started giving a right bollocking to the fat, bearded and very confused American tourist standing next to me.

Of course, you realise I'll probably be excommunicated for this.

See also: The Cathedral Game (and, before you ask, yes I did).