Darling Hermione was boasting again. My dear wife was impelled to remind everyone within earshot she is a champion at charades - a reigning champion at charades.
Now Hermione is well capable of holding down a conventional conversation, She is in turn a nimble conversationalist, an inspiring orator and a coherent commentator on matters social or political. Yet her boast was no idle one as she also has the knack for communicating without words which makes her a champion at charades. A reigning champion, no less.
The topic came up over the around the dinner table over the last of the evening's wine in Medders Manor. Several of the menfolk present mentioned that they had seen a recent television programme about surviving in a wilderness. It included an introduction to a system of silent conversation used by soldiers, hunters and the like as they make their way through jungle or forest or enemy territory.
So, for example, Hunter One points to his eyes, flaps his elbows and then holds up three fingers. Hunter Two knows that he must watch out for a trio of birds and primes his weapon accordingly. Hunter Two then balls one hand into a fist, holds his forearm out vertical and jerks the fist down. Well versed in the conventions of the system, Hunter One realises that it is necessary to concentrate, to be on the lookout.
'That's no good,' scoffed Hermione. 'Be on the lookout for what?' Well it could be a lion maybe, or a patch of nettles, blustered the lads who had not been expecting interrogation. 'Useless. What's the good of that? Poor old Hunter One might be looking up in search of the lion and blunder into the nettles. Or worse, Hunter One could be walking with eyes down for fear of nettles and fail to spot the lion poised to pounce. Result, one dead hunter.
'There must be a better way. It is actually possible to get almost any message across without speaking. I know what I am talking about here. After all, I am a champion at charades…'
I well remember the night Hermione and her two team mates became the Our Town inter-pub champions at charades, contesting a showdown between a couple of the most popular watering holes in Our Town. The toss of a coin dictated that the final be staged in the lounge of the opposition and the place was heaving with a noisy and good-natured crowd in for the occasion. Decibel, perspiration and tension levels rose as the blow for blow contest went into an extra-time, sudden-death tie breaker.
The opposition set a stiff target as they gesticulated, pranced and signalled their way to 'Blade Runner' in a mere 15 seconds amidst loud cheering. Then up stood Hermione. She studied the scrap of paper handed to her by the master of ceremonies with pursed lips. Ready, steady, go. Her comrades called what they saw as she sprang into frantic action.
'It's a book.' 'Three words. 'The middle one's a small one.'
'First word - big round things in the ceiling. Lampshades? Soccer balls? Suns? Suns!'
'Second word. Plus? And? And!' 'Third word. Hugging? Kissing?'
After a good start, momentum slowed. In her desperation, our heroine ran over to Audrey in the audience on one side of the room and then scampered across to Pete before coming to a halt in the middle pointing at Audrey with one hand and Pete with the other. Suddenly all was made clear.
'Lovers?' 'Lovers!' 'Suns and lovers!' 'SONS AND LOVERS!'
Fourteen seconds on the clock. Winners all right. Ear-splitting wave of applause, laughter and approval. What an inspired move! Sure, didn't everyone know that Audrey and Pete were lovers? Everyone, that is except Audrey's husband who had been watching the charade from his vantage point at the bar. Everyone, that is except Pete's wife who had just arrived to bring hubby safely home as he seemed to have been working late a lot recently.
The winners left promptly with the trophy to celebrate in their own bar, so they were not present for the ructions which are still working their way through the criminal, civil and family courts some five years later. The organisers have decided better not to run the competition again since, allowing Hermione to boast truthfully that she is a reigning charades champion.