In my day it was about this time of year that the colours of autumn would fade into the stark black and white of winter and hibernation would begin.
So once we were shut in we needed to find something to pass the time. Something to do when you got bored. Board games surfaced when some one miss spelt the problem. Now we already had a pack of cards in the front room sideboard, and if we had hours to fill and didn’t mind a healthy family argument with some lasting division thrown in there was always Monopoly. But I used to enjoy something simpler; Dominoes.
Now like so many inventions the game started in China and came to Europe through Italy. Which is sort of how we got it.
There was an Italian chef called Luigi Corleone who lived on Well Street and had a little restaurant in Burton; Corleone’s Cafe. He brought us our first pasta and pizza and as a novelty would put a set of dominoes on your table to play with while your food was cooking. Eventually, he introduced take away food and changed the name of the business.
Anyway it got us all playing the game. I remember my old Granddad teaching me a version called 5’s-and-3’s. Some of you will remember it. You laid your tile then added up the spots and got a point for however many times the total could be divided by 5 or 3. So 9 was worth 3 points and if you could make 15 you could get 8 points.
Suddenly, we all knew our 3 and 5 times table.
Course, when I say that Dominoes came from Italy I know some of you will be screaming “Elizabethans!” Yes it is true that Queen Elizabeth I is supposed to have played the game and they reckon she got it from Scotland. This is all because of Shakespeare’s Scottish play. Apparently, in an early version Lady M enters after the murder of Duncan carrying a blood stained domino and cries, “Out, damned spot!” Sensibly the Bard changed the stage direction and also the earlier line, Is this a domino I see before me,”