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).

The Entering Scotland Game

This one's dead easy to play. As you cross the border from England into Scotland, jubilantly shout out the word:

H O O T S !

For even more fun, when returning the other way, why not play the Entering England Game? The principle's exactly the same, but this time you shout:

O H   I   S A Y !

The Encore Game

I had a good-old chin-wag on the phone with Stense on Friday. She told me she was going to a jazz concert being given by one of her friends.

Jazz Club


So I took the opportunity to tell her about the Encore Game:

The Encore Game is a partial misnomer, because it can be played at any point during a music concert, not just during the encore. It is best played when the artist is between tracks, and is making polite banter with the audience. At such points, some pillock from the audience will usually call out the name of their favourite song by the artist, hoping that will in some way encourage them to play it. Other pillocks then usually join in. It's all a bit embarrassing.

Anyway, as the calls begin to subside, you make your move, shouting out:

D E V I L   W O M A N !

It always gets a laugh, and, on one of the occasions when I tried it, the Archdrude himself was good enough to admit that he didn't know all of the words.

Important Notes:

  1. Do not attempt to play the Encore Game at a Cliff Richard concert. People will just think you're a pillock, rather than a postmodernist comic genius. Mind you, if they're at a Cliff Richard concert, who are they to cast nasturtiums?
  2. The Encore Game should not be confused with The Devil Woman Game, even though they might appear very similar to non-aficionados.


The Aeroplane Games

Our journey home from Sicily last week was eventful. There were three pissed Mancunian louts with silly haircuts being loud and obnoxious across the aisle from us on the flight from Gatwick to Manchester. The steward had a quiet word with them, not that it did any good.

They were so obnoxious that I spent the entire journey confined to my iPod. Bloody tossers, I thought to myself. Who do they think they are, Oasis or something?

It turned out they were an Oasis tribute band.

Anyway, being on an aeroplane game me the perfect opportunity to play both of my aeroplane games:

Aeroplane Game 1:

When the captain comes on to the P.A. system and begins with words along the lines of:

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain John Mitchell welcoming you aboard flight BA1234 to Manchester…"

…you should turn immediately to the person next to you (who, in my case is nearly always Jen, and, therefore, fully familiar with the game), and blurt out in an alarmed voice:

"Not Captain John Mitchell! He's rubbish! He's the one they struck off last year, isn't he? How the hell did he get his licence back?"

But, as the captain continues his announcement with words along the lines of:

"My co-pilot on today's flight will be Andrew McTavish…"

…you (or, if they are familiar with the game, the person next to you) should sigh with relief, saying:

"Oh, that's good! Andrew McTavish is great! He'll look after us OK!"

That's it, basically. A harmless bit of fun which greatly amuses your fellow passengers.

Aeroplane Game 2:

As you are disembarking from the aeroplane, either down the steps or walking through the tunnel, you should call out:

"Hello, Cleveland! Rock and roll!"

(It's a quote from This Is Spinal Tap, and is, therefore, extremely funny.)

The Telephone Survey Game

I worked from home yesterday. Just as I was starting on a spot of lunch, I received a call on my mobile phone. The young woman at the other end explained that she worked for a telephone survey company. I explained that I have registered with the Telephone Preference Service because I don't want to receive unsolicited calls. She explained that, because the company she works for only does surveys, and does not try to sell people anything, they are not obliged to check my number via the TPS before calling.

So I decided to play The Telephone Survey Game:

The Telephone Survey Game involves responding to a telephone survey with a pack of jokes/lies. The lies should be totally blatant. The way I see it, if everyone responded in this way, telephone surveys would lose whatever credibility they have left, and companies would stop paying other companies to pester me.

Another aim of The Telephone Survey Game is to keep the caller on the phone for as long as possible. If it's OK for them to waste your time, it should be equally OK for you to waste theirs. I managed to keep this poor young woman on the phone for 48 minutes and 17 seconds.

Clearly, I can't give a word-for-word transcript of our entire conversation, but here's a paraphrased pastiche to give you a feel for it:

"Please could you tell me how many adults there are living at your home address who own mobile phones?"
"One-thousand, eight-hundred and seventeen."
"How many?!"
"One-thousand, eight-hundred and seventeen. Our family prides itself on its fertility."
"Oh dear! My computer won't accept a number that big. The most people usually say is about five."
"Put 'about five' then."
"Are you sure? I'll be asking for all their details in a moment. It might be easier to say 'one'."
"Five it is then."
"Right. Please can you tell me their names so that I can refer to them by name later on in the survey? We won't retain their details afterwards."
"Mr Simpkins… Aristotle… Tony Blair… Gordon Brown, and erm… George Bush!"
"And which one of those are you?"
"I'm not any of those. My name is Charles Darwin."
"[Sighs] I'll change it to 'six' then, should I?"
"If you like."
[… At around this point, the call was cut off. The young woman phoned me straight back.]
"Did you just hang up on me, Mr Darwin?"
"No. I thought you'd hung up on me! I wouldn't have blamed you."
"Perhaps you lost coverage for a moment."
"That's a pretty ironic thing to happen during a satisfaction survey about mobile phones, isn't it?"
"Yes it is. Do you mind if we continue?"
"Not if you don't."
"Hey, I get paid the same no matter what answers you give me."
"That is so immoral! You're taking money from your clients, even though you know I'm lying through my teeth. It's damn unscientific as well!"
"This survey takes so long to complete, most people are making up the answers by the end."
"How do you sleep at night? It's dishonest!"
"I don't care… What make of mobile phone do you use?"
"The fourth one on your list."
"And which carrier do you use?"
"HMS Ark Royal."
"Oh, I get it [laughs]. Which carrier do you really use?"
"No, not really. I meant Rabbit."
"There isn't a carrier named Rabbit."
"There used to be."
"Yes, really—but it never caught on. Tell you what, on fourth thoughts put 'Vodafone'. I'll bet they're on your list."
"They are indeed. OK, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate Vodafone…"
"I haven't finished asking the question yet!"
"I don't care. They get a 'one' for everything. They sponsor Manchester United, for Pete's sake!"
"Which team do you support?"
"That figures. I'm saying nothing… On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the legibility of your mobile phone's display screen?"
"I'd have to give it a one. It's totally illegible… In fact, I can't even see it!"
"You can't see it?"
"No. It's pressed to the side of my head, you see…"
"Roughly how many mobile phone calls do you make a month?"
"None, to within two orders of magnitude?"
"What does that mean?"
"Don't worry, just put 'none'."
"OK. And how many text messages do you send per month?"
"And what is your typical monthly bill?"
"Eighty-three million pounds."
"Oh dear…"
"Doesn't your computer like that either?"
"Put nine-hundred and ninety-nine pounds then."
"OK. Thanks. And how many emails do you send a week?"
"A couple of hundred."
"I'll put '200'."
"…on my computer, I mean."
"I meant on your phone."
"Oh, got you! None."
"Do you use your mobile phone to take photographs?"
"Do I what?!"
"Do you take photographs using your mobile phone?"
"How the hell would I do that?"
"Most mobile phones have cameras built into them these days."
"Jesus! That's clever! What will they think of next?"
"We're getting near the end now! What is your current occupation?"
"I'm walking round and round the coffee table, dealing with an unsolicited phone call."
"Do you want me to put that down?"
"Yes please!"
"And would it be OK for us to call you again in future to take part in other surveys?"
"What do you think?"
"I'll put 'no'."

Bring on the Jehovah's Witnesses!