By Lorne Jackson

SO the Tokyo Olympics will probably be postponed until next year, which means a bummer summer for me, as I won’t be winning a medal. Actually, I was planning on winning a whole bunch of medals – all gold, of course – allowing me to join such famous athletes as Jesse Owens, Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis, who all swaggered home hefting more bling round their necks than your average gangster rapper, buccaneer or Kardashian.

My main Olympic event was going to be sofa slumping, which is similar to the bobsleigh as the participant is seated throughout the competition, though there’s much less bobbing and sleighing involved. It’s more difficult, too, as I’ve never seen a bobsleigh competitor skooshing down a slippery mountainside while picking nacho crumbs out his bellybutton. (Admittedly I can’t do the slippery mountainside bit, but I’m a natural when it comes to nacho navel excavations.)

With no Tokyo triumphalism to look forward to over the coming months, I decided that now was the time to prove my sporting prowess in the glamorous arena that is my flat, a venue similar to Hampden Park, only with wall-to-wall carpeting and slightly better toilet facilities. I even spotted a couple of rival competitors hanging round my gaff; competitors I could easily pummel into submission, before performing a victory dance round their crushed and humbled forms.

So just to be clear, this sporting spectacular was going to involve one indomitable hero (me… yay!) and two nefarious villains, my wife Riki (boo!) and my 14-year-old son Ben (hsss!).

And our sport of choice? Boardgames.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a fan of boardgames. I have particularly fond memories of playing Monopoly at my cousins’ house in Maryhill. I recall one monumental day in particular, when my cousin Brian decided to take the little Scottie dog that is one of the main Monopoly characters and plonk it inside the top hat, another Monopoly playing piece.

“What are you doing?” said one of the gang playing the game.

“I’m giving the dog his own transport, to get him round the board with greater speed and comfort,” said Brian. “It’s called the Doggiemobile.”

We all sat there in dumbfounded silence. Here was inspiration. Here was innovation. A person I knew – a blood relative no less! – had been concealing within himself a bold intelligence to rival that of Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison. And now that intelligence was overflowing, in all its rich complexity, upon the very Monopoly board spread out in front of us. Up to that point I’d always assumed you had to play the game with no deviation from the instructions. It never occurred to me that you could add your own colourful spin on proceedings.

Though, funnily enough, Brian still lost the game. His Doggiemobile must have run out of petrol.

But days like that gave me an abiding love of boardgames in their many manifestations. There are few things better at bringing a family together, even in times of adversity. (A large dollop of Super Glue would probably bring a family together equally well. Though it’s an exceedingly radical form of bonding, only to be attempted when the family unit is in genuine danger of splitting apart. Or when you have a particularly large pot of glue handy.)

Even though I’m fond of boardgames, I hadn’t tackled one with any degree of seriousness since my youth. Today would be different. Because here I was, about to face my two deadliest enemies, my son and my wife. And I was ready to give them such a pasting that I’d be able to squish them inside a tube of Colgate Triple Action toothpaste afterwards. I felt gutsy. I felt gritty. I felt like Tyson Fury’s boxing glove, moments before it said: “Well, hi there!” to Deontay Wilder’s chin for the first time.

“You’re not putting the dog inside the top hat again,” said Ben. “That’s just stupid.”

“Why not?” I said. I should have expected gamesmanship, especially from my son. He’s always been a childish sort of child.

“Oh, just let him,” my wife said to Ben. “He’ll go in a huff if he doesn’t get to play with that ridiculous Doggiemobile of his.”

Our game of Monopoly got underway, and thus commenced the Boardgame Olympics. Having been cooped up in the house for days, it was nice to be ambling down pathways and boulevards again. OK, I hadn’t quite made it onto Sauchiehall Street or Buchanan Street, but understanding and accepting the current circumstances we’re living through, I was content enough to find myself on Mayfair and the Euston Road.

But my sense of freedom didn’t last long, as I soon found myself in jail for an unspecified crime. No trial. No judge. No jury. In other words, the fix was in.

I suspected Ben, of course. But instead of blaming him outright, I chose to simmer angrily, like a falsely accused kettle. Having served my sentence, I was released to become a productive member of society again. But my time in the pokey had changed me, and not for the better. The optimistic plume of youth had dulled, leaving a husk of a man; fired by bitterness, hellbent on revenge.

Alas, the game ended before I had a chance of getting my own back, with Riki grabbing the spoils of victory. With the pile of dosh she made in the game, she decided on early retirement. A small cottage on the coast being unavailable for this purpose, she instead opted to relax on the sofa and watch some telly.

Meanwhile, Ben and I continued with our grudge match. I suggested chess. A crafty move on my part, as Ben has never beaten me at the game. He’s come close a few times, though whenever he seems to be learning some particularly cunning moves I stop playing him for a while. He then forgets the knowledge he’s acquired, and I go back to beating him with relative ease. I won on this occasion, too, though it was a close run thing. Guess I’ll have to stop playing him again, for at least a year or two.

We then moved on to play Guess Who? It was the football version of the game, which proved tricky for me, as I know as much about kicky ball as your average footie star knows about opera. For those who haven’t played this edition, it involves asking a bunch of questions in order to guess the footballing personality pictured on the hidden card of your opponent.

“Does your footballer play in the Scottish Premiership?” asked Ben.

“I’ve no idea,” I said.

“Does he play on the wing?” he asked.

“The wing of what?” I said. “A duck?”

I quit the game soon after, calling it a draw. Ben called it something else, though I refuse to repeat the word he used. Let’s just say it started with a v and ended with an ictory.

Like Frank Sinatra in his golden years, Riki decided to come out of retirement at this point. I don’t know if Frank was any good at boardgames, though Riki, once again, proved to be a master of the discipline, easily winning a game of Snakes and Ladders. I had a fifty-fifty sort of game. I proved adept at whizzing down the snakes, though the ladders gave me vertigo, so I avoided them entirely. We concluded the evening’s entertainment with a couple of games of Ludo, both won by Ben.

Unfortunately we failed to find any Olympic gold medals secreted in the flat. So Wagon Wheel biscuits were awarded instead, which proved to be much better than medals, as you can munch on a Wagon Wheel with a cup of tea. And how many chocolate biccies did I win? Well, who’s counting, right?

To be honest, winning was never the issue. The true importance of our day spent playing those often overlooked games of my youth was to prove that in the difficult weeks and months ahead, there can be no harm in trying something a little bit different.

Adapt and Evolve is the name of the boardgame we’re all playing now. Time to be a Doggiemobile.