Thursday, April 14, 2016
L IS FOR LASER TAG
I will grudgingly admit that you can't play laser tag without laser, and no, laser had not been discovered in the 16th century. But there were games resembling tag, and one of them seems to have been popular among adults - the laser tag of its day, so to speak.
There was a children's game called "hide-fox and all after" which is widely considered to have been identical with hide-and-seek. There was also a rustic game, popular with all ages, known as "base," "prison base," or prison bars." And here I will quote at length from an article describing various games which are mentioned in Shakespeare's plays:
The success of this pastime depended upon the agility of the candidates, and their skill in running. Early in the reign of Edward III ([which lasted from 1327-1377] it is spoken of as a childish amusement, and was prohibited to be played in the avenues of the palace at Westminster during the session of Parliament, because of the interruption it occasioned to the members and others in passing to and fro as their business required. It was also played by men, and especially in Cheshire and other adjoining counties, where it seems to have been in high repute among all classes. Strutt [Joseph Strutt, 18th-century antiquarian and historian] thus describes the game: "The performance of this pastime requires two parties of equal number, each of them having a base or home to them-selves, at the distance of about twenty or thirty yards. The players then on either side, taking hold of hands, extend themselves in length, and opposite to each other, as far as they conveniently can, always remembering that one of them must touch the base. When any one of them quits the hand of his fellow and runs into the field, which is called giving the chase, he is immediately followed by one of his opponents. He is again followed by a second from the former side, and he by a second opponent, and so on alternately until as many are out as choose to run, every one pursuing the man he first followed, and no other; and if he overtake him near enough to touch him, his party claims one toward their game, and both return home. They then run forth again and again in like manner until the number is completed that decides the victory. This number is optional, and rarely exceeds twenty.
Got all that? Sounds like some form of group partner-tag, with only one person that each pursuer can tag. The game sounds okay, but what I really love about this quote is the mental image of kids (and possibly adults) running around like lunatics in the halls of Parliament, tripping everyone in their path. Could this be the missing ingredient that might actually make the U.S. Congress functional?
p.s. Both of these illustrations come from paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, about whom you read in my "I" post. But if you didn't read my I post yet, it's not too late!