Back in the days before TV and the internet, people amused themselves over the holidays by playing parlour games. One game popular in Regency-era Britain was "Bullet Pudding" [via tywkiwdbi]. Jane Austen's niece Fanny Knight described it in a letter sent to a friend :
You must have a large pewter dish filled with flour which you must pile up into a sort of pudding with a peek at top. You must then lay a bullet at top and everybody cuts a slice of it, and the person that is cutting it when it falls must poke about with their noses and chins till they find it and then take it out with their mouths of which makes them strange figures all covered with flour but the worst is that you must not laugh for fear of the flour getting up your nose and mouth and choking you: You must not use your hands in taking the Bullet out.
Nothing gets a party going like playing with live ammunition! The illustration below by Francis Hayman shows the moment when the bullet toppled from the top of the Flour pyramid.
Another game, called Snapdragon, involved lighting a bowl of brandy punch on fire and then trying to pick the raisins and nuts out of the punch without burning your fingers. Austenonly comments, "Though brandy does not burn at a particularly high heat it was still possible to be scorched and the point of the fun was to watch peoples expressions as they darted their fingers through the flames, picking out the fruit or nuts."
Perhaps it's wise that this 1973 game is no longer manufactured. Hard to imagine it being very popular in today's economy. But if you still want a set, so you can pretend to be part of the 1%, check out the link to Amazon below.
According to the BBC, it's becoming increasingly popular for parents to place long-term bets with bookmakers on whether their kids will achieve fame and fortune during their lives. For instance, whether their kid will become a famous soccer player or a great golfer:
A particular type of long-time achievement bet - parents having a bet on their children achieving something in their life - has increased tenfold in the past five years, according to Ladbrokes.
"Parents betting on their children's future successes is as popular as betting on the final of the X Factor," says Jessica Bridge, from the firm.
...it's not all about sporting prowess, he says. Many parents will place bets that their children will pass a particular exam. And then there was the grandmother who thought her granddaughter so beautiful that she wagered she would grace the front cover of a leading fashion magazine.
"People do it for a variety of reasons," says Sharpe. "They are demonstrating that they have real faith in someone - have every confidence in them. They may be using it as an incentive. Or it could just be a bit of fun. Something to talk about, or put on the wall.
If only my parents had placed a bet when I was a child that I would grow up to be a blogger at Weird Universe, they'd be rich! Although the internet didn't exist back then, so it would have been a real longshot bet.
Next time I'm in Suffolk, I'm definitely making a trip to see Tim Hunkin's Under the Pier show, located at the Southwold Pier. It's an amusement arcade full of his unique, hand-made machines. Read more about it in this Guardian article. Below is a video of his timely Whack a Banker game. Link to Tim Hunkin's site.
Now that Myanmar seems to be opening up to the outside world, do you think their national sport of Chinlone will sweep the planet? A noncompetitive team endeavor, with no winning or losing? Nah, not likely!