I’m wedged between a tallboy and a wardrobe; the air is musty and thick with dust and I’ve just realised that my inhaler is back at home. That’s not my main concern right now though – something’s just fallen on my head and I’m pretty sure it’s a pair of Grandma’s knickers; but I knew this might happen, I knew the risks, after all I used to play hide and seek all the time – when I was young.
It’s during our current stay in France that I’ve had a chance to revisit a much-loved game of my youth. As an adult, if you suggest having a game of hide and seek – or ‘cache-cache’ as it’s called over here – you get some funny looks. And a search on Google for ‘adult games’ yields results of quite a different nature, to those you were after.
Like most people, I loved hide and seek, tigs, British Bulldog et al when I was young. But then things changed as you grew up. The allure of home computers, Sky TV, Super Nintendos, VHS, Gameboys and game girls proved too much. This, and the harsh realities of homework and ‘proper’ school meant that these games became a thing of the past, and a little bit of childhood magic died.
Having kids has rekindled that old magic, as there’s now a perfectly valid reason to play those games of old, all over again. It’s incredible how quickly it all comes back to you, those feelings you thought you’d never have again, the anticipation of being found out, the tension as the footsteps draw closer, and the incredulity as they seem to look straight at you…and then carry on by.
We play our game of hide and seek at the aforementioned French Grandma’s house. It’s not the biggest of places and, to my expert eyes, seems to hold about nine really good hiding places. I’m playing with my son, who’s four, and his three French cousins, who range in ages from nine to thirteen. They’re good sports and we have lots of fun, although my son’s years betray him, as he constantly gets the giggles – it’s a case of hearing him before seeing him.
There are also traitors at play in this house of fun – my nineteen-month-old daughter takes great delight in waiting till I’ve succesfully disguised myself as a corner unit, with the missus’ handbag obscuring my massive adult head. She then casually approaches me and repeats the word ‘daddy’ until I am caught out. The house dog is also up to no good – occasionally popping in to stand rigidly a few feet from someone’s hiding place, head pointing at the (no-longer-quite-so) hidden player.
We all get a bit carried away as the day progresses, our hiding places getting ever more creative. My son empties the entirety of Grandma’s underwear drawer in a flurry (contents of which land on daddy’s head, thanks son), something that hasn’t happened since the end of World War 2, and attempts to climb inside. I, meanwhile, forget my size and nearly break several priceless heirlooms, and what appears to be an Urn, contents unknown.
We head outside, for a change of pace, to play a bit of musical statues, another evergreen favourite. This game doesn’t go down so well, and the choice of music concerns me somewhat. I’m the designated DJ and the only track available, on this French gizmo whose workings are unknown to me, is Ellie Goulding’s ’Love Me Like You Do’. I’m keenly aware of playing musical statues, with a group of children, using the main tune to the film 50 Shades Of Grey.
We rest then, and have a bit of dinner. I suspect my daughter of having left me a present in her pants, as an ungodly reek fills the air, but someone’s just unwrapped some very pungent French cheese*. Oh well, I think, we won’t need dogs or my daughter to give the game away now when we resume our game of cache-cache. If anyone eats that cheese with their dinner, we’ll be able to smell them before we see them.
*The missus has asked me to point out that this comes across as a bit of a stereotype, you know, the French and smelly cheese. However I would like to reinforce that this actually happened. The smell was so bad that one of our party, a Parisian, had to actually get up and leave the table. So you can see how my first thought was that my daughter was responsible.