Archive for February, 2012

How to Host a Murder

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Our wine club usually assembles once a month in a member’s house and a four course dinner is served. Each course is prepared by different members, and consideration is given to pairing appropriate wines with each course. On this occasion we agreed to step out of our comfort zone and arrange a dinner with a theme provided by a game which my wife has owned for over twenty years but never played: How to Host a Murder.

It is June, 1940 aboard a train leaving Paris. The German troops are about to enter Paris. The roads south are a hopeless snarl; the trains are full and one cannot find space aboard them. Yet to remain in the city and see her brutalized by the Nazis will not be a pleasant experience.

An anonymous letter arrives, offering you passage aboard a government train heading for the relative safety of Southern France. During the trip, murder is discovered and the passengers must decide who amongst them has committed the crime. The following characters are brought together on the train and meet for dinner in the dining car:

  • Khover T. Ageante:  covert agent
  • Princess Idelle Chattre: idle chatter
  • Malcolm R. Conntint: malcontent
  • Mary K. Trairie: quite contrary
  • RAF Group Captain Weyland W. Awforce: way off course
  • Barbra Z. Enhussie: she’s a hussy
  • Duke Schwazhe B.U. Klare:  because you care
  • Belinda Screete: indiscreet

Aided and abetted by the Duchess of Embry.

A dining car has to have an appropriate menu and since we are departing Paris, the dinner unsurprisingly has a French theme:

  • Appetizers: stuffed mushrooms and scallops wrapped in bacon
  • Starter: French onion soup
  • Entrée: coq au vin with potato boulangerie, French beans and Vichy carrots
  • Dessert: chocolate mousse

There are 8 clue books for the assigned roles and the game is played in 4 rounds. The Clue Manual is required to be read in sections as one proceeds through the rounds. As the game progresses players ask questions and make statements – in character – to gather information.

Once everyone has arrived they read The Rules, and then everyone reads their own personal Dossier which will contain some new information about their role that they keep secret. Somebody is the murderer, but only they will know who they are. Then everyone introduces themselves IN CHARACTER and tells only what you want other people to know.

Before the start, everyone listens to the cassette tape (shows how old the game is) which came with the game which contains “The Report of the Investigation.” There is also a diagram of the train cars to refer to during the game.

Following consumption of the food courses and after every drop of wine is squeezed from the vine, the murderer is finally revealed in the final round. Unfortunately, the game cannot be played again with the same group as the murderer remains the same.

It turned out to be a very successful evening thanks to everyone embracing their roles and dressing in character. Apparently the local Goodwill and Salvation Army stores did a roaring trade with members searching for period costumes and accessories. The Duchess of Embry arrived in a splendid mink coat which hadn’t seen the light of day in over 10 years. Thank goodness nobody was a member of PETA!

One of the challenges of the evening was remaining in character while drinking copious amounts of wine over a five hour period. By the time the final round arrived the discovery of the murderer was secondary to an enjoyable evening where everyone grasped the opportunity to dress up for a change.

Good company, delicious food and exquisite wines were the order of the day and I would thoroughly recommend the occasion. However it only works if you have a group of eight prepared to play the characters. If anyone is interested in hosting a murder, forward me your address and I will try to send you the game if you are prepared to pay for postage and packing. Well there is a war on you know!


Acquittal + Resignation = FArce

Monday, February 13th, 2012


In less than twenty four hours, the England national football team became a soap opera worthy of a daytime slot on American TV. Fabio Capello, the Italian coach of England resigned following his criticism of his employers (The Football Association) for stripping John Terry of the captaincy.

Meanwhile Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, favored to succeed Capello as manager/coach of the national team, was found not guilty of tax evasion. The man had been under investigation for the last five years and subjected to a two week trial where he successfully emerged battered and bruised but unscathed.

If anyone needs reminding, the John Terry affair which brought all this about involved the Chelsea captain allegedly shouting obscenities at Queen Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand last October. Ironically if the two obscenities had been confined to the two words flanking the emotive word “black” nothing more would have been heard about it.

Instead one alleged word out of place set off a chain of events which has left England without a manager and a captain with the European Championship looming in the summer. Terry’s trial is scheduled for July which falls after the Championship, and the FA held the view it would be inappropriate for the captain of England to be associated with ongoing legal proceedings. What happened to hapeus corpus? Isn’t an individual considered to be innocent until proven guilty? In 1970, days before England’s opening match of the World Cup in Mexico, England captain Bobby Moore was falsely accused but arrested for allegedly stealing a bracelet from a jewelry store in Bogota.  Apparently the mystery men currently in charge of the FA  would have stripped him of the captaincy.

Capello could have avoided this farce had he not returned the captaincy to Terry, having demoted him following allegation of an affair with the left back Wayne Bridge’s former girlfriend.  In my opinion, Terry is a despicable individual who has used the captaincy to promote his commercial interests. More importantly I don’t believe he is good enough to be in the England squad let alone be captain. Surely a man of principles would have shown support for his manager and resigned in protest from the England squad.

Capello is no angel either. England had a wretched World Cup in 2010 when they were regarded as one of the favorites.  However they have lost one match since the World Cup and qualified for the European Championship with ease. Capello was given a king’s ransom to coach England to the tune of 6million a year. He promised to learn the language but only managed “pigeon English” if I was being generous.  He also failed to embrace English culture and often went missing in action enjoying long vacations away from the English climate when he would have been better served assessing the form of English players.

The fact that Capello quit a few hours after the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was acquitted of tax evasion has appeared almost too convenient to be true. It seems that if Redknapp wants the England job he can have it. Loved by the players, utterly in tune with the nation, he gives the people what they want. Many English pundits claim that the England team should have an English manager, but really the only criteria should be that he speaks fluent English.

Admittedly, Redknapp is currently the most successful English manager in the premiership with Spurs riding high in 3rd position and a place in next season’s Champions League almost assured. They are playing attractive football of the highest quality but could that style be transferred to the England team? Modric pulls the strings in midfield but is a Croatian. Gareth Bale adds another dimension but plays for Wales while another key player Van de Vartt is Dutch.

Tottenham’s Chairman Daniel Levy will not be in a hurry to allow Redknapp to leave for England and may insist he remains with the club until the end of the season. If that is the case, would Harry have sufficient time to mold a team together to make a challenge for the European Championship? Let’s not forget he will be 65 years old next month and by his own admission has just survived a five year legal nightmare. Does he really need the aggravation of being placed under the microscope as England manager?

As a long time Tottenham fan, I sincerely hope he ignores the “Cry God for Harry, England and St George” and remains with the Spurs; at least until we have won the Premiership and Champions League!


War Time Golf Rules and Super Bowl XLVI

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Readers  could be scratching their heads trying to make a connection beween war time golf rules and the Super Bowl. Let me assure you there isn’t one which is the beauty of owning your own blog. I do not have to answer to an editor or pander to ratings, so anything goes.

As the Battle of Britain began to take hold in 1940, a bomb fell on an outbuilding belonging to Richmond Golf Club in Surrey, England. As a result, the club — rather than halt future rounds of golf — issued an incredible list of temporary golf rules to all members that took into account the potentially life-threatening conditions on the course:


  1. Players are asked to collect Bomb and Shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the mowing machines.
  2. In competitions, during gunfire, or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
  3. The positions of known delayed-action bombs are marked by red flags placed at reasonably, but not guaranteed safe distance therefrom.
  4. Shrapnel/and/or bomb splinters  on the Fairways, or in Bunkers within a club’s length of a ball may be moved without penalty, and no penalty shall be incurred if a ball is thereby caused to move accidentally.
  5. A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced, or if lost or destroyed, a ball may be dropped not nearer  the hole without penalty.
  6. A ball lying in a crater may be  lifted and dropped not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole  without penalty.
  7. A player whose stroke is  affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty, one stroke.


The talking heads were expecting a high scoring game between Super Bowl contenders New York Giants and New England Patriots. It was a natural assumption with two sharpshooters at quarter back: Tom Brady and Eli Manning. Surprisingly both quarter backs were subdued for long periods and the Giants eventually edged their great rivals 21-17.

The game was determined by two passes thrown by Brady and Manning. Four minutes were remaining in the fourth quarter and Manning was pinned deep in his own half.  On third down he threw a perfect thirty yard pass to his receiver Mario Manningham who was covered by two defenders, but miraculously caught the ball on the edge of the touchline. The play was reviewed but it confirmed that Manningham caught the ball with two feet grounded before being bundled out of play. The Giants pushed on and scored the game winning touchdown.

A few minutes earlier, Brady found his favorite” go to guy” Wes Welker wide open, and threw a thirty yard pass which Welker would normally catch 99 times out of a hundred. Unfortunately this just happened to be number 100 and he inexplicably dropped it. The Patriots would not recover despite leading 17-15, and lost to the Giants for a second time in four years in the Super Bowl.

In an earlier blog I described the Giants as a mediocre team good enough to beat my Atlanta Falcons (which was true,) but wouldn’t hold a candle to the Packers or Saints. Better pundits than me thought likewise and were forced to eat humble pie. The key to their success was the return of several starters from long term injuries and the emergence of receiver Cruz as a star performer. However the catalyst was beating the Packers on their own turf at Lambeau Field.

Congratulations to the Giants and thank you for helping me win a steak dinner and a good bottle of Spanish Rioja from my illustrious associate Lord Getkin.