‘For spontaneous silliness with the kids in your life play this game’

Are We There Yet? Consequences is a very old parlour game, but perfect for modern families who enjoy spontaneous silliness – plus it’s healthier and more fun than the iPad

Donald Trump: Consequences is a great game. The best game. The greatest game. There’s never been anyone who plays that game as well as me. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Donald Trump: Consequences is a great game. The best game. The greatest game. There’s never been anyone who plays that game as well as me. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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When I look back at this time in my parenting career I will remember the bad jokes we invented – as a family we could do a whole stand-up night in Vicar Street just using our repertoire of cheese-based jokes. And herb-based jokes. And dessert-based jokes. A lot of our jokes revolve around foodstuffs. (It’s the way we sausage roll.)

The other thing I will remember is happy afternoons playing Consequences. It’s a very old parlour game, the kind of thing I imagine the Famous Five playing in between ripping adventures and ginger beer binges. And it’s what we play when the four of us go out for dinner.

Thanks to Smiggle we are going through a serious stationery phase in our house. Popcorn-scented pencils and pencil cases with secret pop-out compartments is where the pocketmoney goes. And our constant refrain before we go anywhere is: have you got the pencil cases/notepads? It’s guaranteed entertainment and healthier than the iPad.

If we don’t remember to bring the pens and paper, we cadge them from a friendly waiter to play Consequences. It’s not a contest, there are no winners or losers. You just use words to create a very random and disconnected story. If you are a Tiger parent (shudder) you’ll be thrilled by the opportunity to correct spelling and expand vocabulary. But if you just enjoy spontaneous silliness with the children in your life, this is your holy grail game.

Each person playing has a sheet of paper. You play by writing words on the paper and folding it to hide the previous words before passing the paper on to the next player.

Each player starts by writing two adjectives to describe a man. ( We try to ban smell-based words, but farty is a perennial and I suspect it always will be.)

Then everybody folds the paper to hide the words and passes it along to the person beside them. Now write a man’s name – this can be someone you all know; writing down the name of someone playing the game is always good; or someone famous. Donald Trump comes up a lot.

Fold the paper and pass again.

Two adjectives for a woman – I try to stay away from pretty or lovely. Stinky often pops up here too.

Fold and pass.

Woman’s name – again, it could be someone around the table or a celebrity. At the moment, Taylor Swift is popular.

Fold and pass.

Now write down where they met. I get given out to a lot for choosing wherever we happen to be. “Use your imagination, Mum!”

Fold and pass.

What he said to her: “Do you know when is the next bus to Dundrum?”

Fold and pass.

What she said to him: “Sometimes I pick my feet.”

Fold and pass.

What he gave her: “A pain in the neck.”

Fold and pass.

What she gave him: “A Russian doll.”

Fold and pass.

And finally, the consequence (a description of what happened in the end. A lot of the time I have people winning the lottery. Imagination deficit, again.)

Each person will end up with a story folded in a kind of concertina. You take it in turns to read out the stories and everyone – even the person who was in a bad mood because they aren’t getting a whole pizza to themselves – is cheered up instantly. This is typical of one of our Consequences stories:

The strange and farty Donald Trump met the sleepy and stinky Róisín Ingle. They met in Milano. He said to her, “You ugly”. She said to him, “There’s 10 per cent off the avocados today.” He gave her a sloppy kiss. She gave him a copy of War & Peace. The consequence was they bought an Island in the Caribbean and started a melon farm.

Ok, so it’s not going to win any Pulitzers. But that’s kind of the point. If family strife is threatening to break out, if you’re on a long train journey or if you just need a laugh, play Consequences. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say it makes everything better. Give it a go and see.

Things to do with children this weekend . . .

Scene + Heard: The Curious World of Maggie the Brave

This sounds like a great bit of children’s theatre that will entertain the little ones: “Maggie is completely sick of it: of hospital visits, of cancelled birthday parties, of having nobody at the end of her seesaw. But is she allowed to feel ‘sick’ of it when she’s as fit as a fiddle and her little brother is the bravest person she knows?” Maggie runs as a double bill with another children’s play, In Concrete We Drown. Smock Alley is a gorgeous space and the staff always make everyone – big or small – feel at home.

Where: Smock Alley Theatre, 6-7 Exchange Street Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin

When: Saturday & Sunday February 24th & 25th, 3pm. Running time is one hour

Cost: €6/€10

Contact: 01-6770014

Rachel Allen is co-hosting the Ballymaloe Good Living Day on Sunday
Rachel Allen is co-hosting the Ballymaloe Good Living Day on Sunday

Ballymaloe Good Living Day

It’s always a good time at Ballymaloe, but this weekend especially. This is the third annual day devoted to health and wellbeing. This year it’s hosted by TV3’s Deric Hartigan and Rachel Allen. Lilly Higgins also makes an appearance. The eclectic line-up of talks range from the Dublin Science Museum on vaccines and Domini Kemp sharing her learnings on the science of nutrition in a talk entitled Food and Cancer, to John Lonergan, former governor of Mountjoy Prison, sharing his tips on how to be happy and content. For children, the Big Shed children’s area returns, this time with a focus on recycling: create a recycling art installation, take a walk in the garden, try seed-planting or smoothie-making. Boredom is not an option.

Where: Ballymaloe Grainstore, Shanagarry, Co Cork

When: Sunday February 25th, from 10am

Cost: €6 entry (children under 16 are free). Entry to the Big Shed is €5 and all talks are individually priced

Contact: 021-4757200

Disney’s Zootopia is showing at the Belltable in Limerick as part of Family Saturdays
Disney’s Zootopia is showing at the Belltable in Limerick as part of Family Saturdays

Family Saturdays

Every second Saturday, the Belltable arts centre in Limerick runs a Family Saturdays programme with a mix of cinema, theatre and interactive entertainment. This Saturday you can watch the Disney movie Zootopia, a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard, the man behind Tangled, and Rich Moore, who brought us Wreck-It Ralph. Keep an eye out for future family Saturdays which feature Little Folk on tour and the Magic Bookshop.

Where: Belltable, Limerick

When: Saturday 24th February, 2.30pm

Cost: €8

Contact: 061-953400

Malahide Castle and Gardens

I’ve been meaning to mention this place for ages, as it’s somewhere that’s always a hit with our children. It’s got one of the best playgrounds you’ll find in Dublin – with stuff for very small and much bigger kids – and the forest walk around the periphery is a joy. There’s an Avoca here, too, which always helps, and you can get a guided tour of the very impressive castle which dates back to 1175.

Where: Malahide Castle, Co Dublin

When: 9.30am-5.30pm Monday-Sunday. Last guided tours of castle at 4.30pm

Cost: Free for the grounds; castle tours are €12.50 for adults, €6.50 for children

Contact: 01-8169538

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