Growing up back in the days before the internet, or even 24 hour television. just occasionally we had to so something other than stare at a screen in order to entertain ourselves.
At some point, someone gave us a game called Fussbudget. It was basically the same card game that many people have played with ordinary playing cards, often under names such as ‘Chase the Ace’, ‘Scabby Queen’ or even ‘Black Bitch’. In short, a full deck of cards with one of the black ones – either an ace or a queen – taken out. Players take it in turns to draw a card from the hand of their neighbour, which is fanned out in front of them, back facing the drawer. The object of the game is to blindly draw a card which pairs with one in your hand (say, the six of hearts with the six of diamonds), and the pair of cards can then be discarded. The object of the game is to avoid being the player left with the one black card.
Fussbudget was slightly different, in that the cards were all characters from the Peanuts cartoon strip. With Lucy as the odd card out – or fussbudget – of course.
It was a harmless, happy, family game – although I do remember there was always undue hilarity when one of my sisters lost and was branded a fussbudget (of course we thought it was true!)
The game I really remember, though, was one we all played one Christmas at my grandparents’ house. We were all sat in a big circle – My sister Karen and I (Lisa and Kevin hadn’t arrived then, it was 1977), my parents, my grandparents, my Uncle Allan and Auntie Gillian – and the game seemed to go on forever. And ever. And ever. No-one seemed to be able to make the final pairs necessary for the game to end.
That’s when someone thought to look at the pairs that my Grandad had laid down. And discovered that they were just completely random combinations of cards. Grandad, of course, was chuckling away to himself by now. I could write a whole book about him, and maybe even will, but this was the time that his quiet, mischievous, sense of humour best came over to us as children. I loved him dearly and miss him dreadfully.
Needless to say, after that we had a family rule that pairs of cards had to be laid face up. And, somehow, Fussbudget never seemed the same again.