Board games bring a family together…

THAT’S it that then.

The divorce is next week.

Someone gave us a board game for Christmas. I love board games. In this age of televisions, headphones, cars and computers, all designed to ensure our interaction with the rest of the world is reduced to the absolute minimum necessary to sustain life, a board game brings a family together.

The simple fun of shaking the dice and moving your little counters across the board is a heart-warming and curiously thrilling occupation, especially when you’re in front.

And as long as you aren’t playing with someone you love.

It was one of those territorial games in which you play on a map of the world, manoeuvring little armies until one player (preferably me) has wiped out all the opposition and owns everything from Kamchatka to Kyogle.

The essence of these games is that you do deals with other participants to destroy the weaker players; until your allies are the weaker players, then you destroy them, too.

Unless they happen to be your wife.

I tried to explain it was only a game. That if she went to the window and looked out it would still be the Gold Coast and Christmas and the garden would still be blooming.

It would not be Armageddon, as it was on the board, with her last remaining soldiers pathetically caving in to the wall of my serried battalions.

“But I thought you loved me!” she cried. “You said we were partners!”

“But it’s a game. Only one person can win. You should have done it to me first.”

“But I love you!”

“And I love you, too.”

“You lying bastard!”

She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the evening. In bed that night her bum was as cold as a bowling ball. The board game is already in the loft – a space normally reserved for items that haven’t been used for at least two years.

“And she’s divorcing you over a board game,” I hear you say, incredulously.

Well, no, actually.

We placed the board-game incident behind us. We finally discussed it like the mature adults we are and I persuaded her that one’s actions in a game do not necessarily reflect one’s feelings in life.

And she finally persuaded me that if we truly loved each other we wouldn’t want to compete – not even across a board. We ought to be content to play as a team, on the same side.

So we learned canasta. It’s a card game. You probably know it. You can play as a team, across a table with two opponents, like bridge.

We had out first serious game last night. She smiled at me. I smiled back. Our smiles met in the middle, hovering over the table like invisible angels saying to each other: “This is more like it.”

The she threw out an ace, when all the aces were on the table, and gave them canasta.

My little angel, hovering over the table, grew horns. Its wings dropped off and its eyes turned as red as a ferret’s.

“What the hell did you do that for!” it said.

And the divorce is next week.