Foul Play

in Features by

Steve Pittard:

Armchair sleuths tackling Cluedo this Christmas might be in for a shock. The traditional Hampshire country mansion has been bulldozed to make way for an Essex style gangster’s gaff. The library has gone, with an integrated garage in its stead. The biggest crime here is not Dr Black’s demise, but the wholesale killing of six treasured British icons.

Chaps would sooner attend Abigail’s party than mix with these dreadful parvenus. The rot set in when a dartboard was mounted in the billiard room

The tweedy Colonel Mustard has been cashiered; stripped of his rank and, worse still, his moustache. They are all completely different personas. The former cook, Mrs. White, getting ideas above her station, is now a hotshot lawyer. Recent makeovers to the whole mise-en-scene now create the potential denouement: Victor Plum/with the Baseball Bat/in the Spa. The erstwhile professor, no longer the spit of Albert Einstein, has become a billionaire video game designer, while clean-shaven Jack Mustard is now an ex-soccer pro turned pundit.

Colonel Mustard

Cluedo has gone to the dogs. Chaps would sooner attend Abigail’s party than mix with these dreadful parvenus: in fact I wouldn’t altogether rule out suicide by Dr Black. The rot set in when a dartboard was mounted in the billiard room during the 1990s. Also, a 1993 novelty Leeds edition starred, as it happens, the suspect Jimmy Savile. Recently Edinburgh has been chosen to get the Cluedo treatment, though the short-list included Glasgow! One dreads to think what beastly weapon would have provided the coup de grace.

Miss Scarlett

One can always participate in more sophisticated pastimes, such as those favoured by international men of mystery. James Bond had a penchant for Baccarat Chemin-de-fer. His creator Ian Fleming would have been appalled at the Casino Royale remake, where Bond stoops to play Texas Hold’em – in shirtsleeves! One has almost come to expect such vulgarity from Daniel Craig’s 007, who, necking bottled lager and driving a Ford Mondeo, displays about as much panache as Partridge… Alan Partridge.


Roger Moore’s 007 showed better form in Octopussy by playing Backgammon. During the late 1970s, backgammon was all the rage among jetsetters and bon viveurs. Previously it had been elaborate chess sets that took pride of place in bachelor pads. Like every other luxury item on display, it doubled as a seduction tool; as much part of a Lothario’s arsenal as his Hai Karate. In the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair, Faye Dunaway’s character could barely contain herself. Her repeated stroking of the black bishop would have made a Flake girl blush. The eponymous playboy (Steve McQueen), getting a trifle hot under the collar, suggests they play a different game, though I don’t think he’s got Scrabble in mind.

Professor Plum

Scrabble has rather let itself down of late. A recent official offshoot legitimised proper nouns! In 2008, Nintendo’s DS version hit the headlines, following a foul mouthed performance against a disgusted Ms. Carrington. The computerised character Camilla was given the benefit of the doubt after displaying TITS, but then produced a thoroughly unpleasant SHIT. Ms. Carrington still looked to have the better of Nintendo, but the objectionable F*CKERS sealed victory to the game.

Casino Royale

Scrabble tried to clean up its act up by issuing a so-called family dictionary, though it’s an absolute disgrace. Call me old fashioned, but since when did ‘cottaging’ become all-round family entertainment? Could you imagine Julie Andrews listing ‘dildos’ and ‘dogging’ among a few of her favourite things? Admittedly, offensive four-letter words have been banned, like ch*v, but the jarring argot of urban ruffians still abounds. The abomination ‘wassup’ remains – “How the blazes are you?” in chap parlance.

Regarding official tournaments, Mattel had a crackdown on jiggery-pokery by producing special smooth tiles, as some bounders when selecting from the bag were resorting to Braille. Underhand tactics by Englishmen used to be considered beyond the pale. The fictional Bulldog Drummond was forced to flee the country after being discovered at his gentlemen’s club cheating at cards – then a worse social crime than murdering one’s nanny. Drummond’s supposed wrongdoing was all a ruse to provide a plausible explanation for the undercover agent’s sudden exile. It was inconceivable that Bulldog would have actually chosen to go abroad, as it’s full of foreigners, of course.


The Chap was founded in 1999 and is the longest-serving British magazine dedicated to the gentlemanly way of life, with its own quirky, satirical take on a style that has recently entered the mainstream.

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