Let us turn our attention to the world of gaming. There has been a fantastic buzz in the industry as we approach the launch of the latest version of one of the most popular games on the planet, a multibillion-dollar money-spinner instantly recognisable from the three letters GWD.
I am speaking, of course, of Grovel With Dampier, the cardboard and chickenwire strategy game that numbers among its fans Yoko Ono, Dale Winton, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov of Turkmenistan, and Stephen Fry. I have been fortunate enough to get a sneak preview of version four and, let me tell you, it is everything it’s cracked up to be.
As with the earlier releases, the basic concept of Grovel With Dampier is deceptively simple. Sorry, that’s not quite right. There’s no deception involved. It is simple! You, the player, accompany a simulacrum of buccaneering sea captain Sir William Dampier (1651-1715) on his three circumnavigations of the globe. Every now and again, you both disembark from your ship, whether it be the Cygnet, the St George, or the Duke, and grovel in the stinking, muddy tidewaters of whichever land mass you are at the edge of. Then, your hair festooned with kelp and your eyes sore from salt water, you clamber back on to your ship and voyage onwards to seek further grovelling grounds.
Aficionados will be pleased to learn that most, if not all, of the irritating additional features have been removed from this new edition, allowing players to concentrate fully on the essence of the game. There is no distracting music, no bleeps and blips and high resolution graphics, just a sheet of cardboard and some chickenwire and the opportunity to pretend you really are grovelling with Dampier. Does it get any better than this?