I’VE come up with an interesting game which could offer a welcome diversion for the long cold months ahead.
I call it Town Centre Dead Pool, and I can’t claim any great Monopoly or Trivial pursuit moment of inspiration that created something new and, more importantly, something that might become a huge success and provide me with stacks of cash steadily rolling in thanks to worldwide royalties and licensing deals.
It’s really only based on the existing Dead Pool game, which you may already know about, even if you frown at its tastelessness.
In a Dead Pool tontine – yes, tontine, look it up – the participants all stick a few quid in the pot and pick a name from a hat.
All the names are celebrities, some of whom are a bit long in the tooth, some still young but careless in their habits, and some picked at random.
If you’re playing the long game, you can decide that the winner of the pot will be the holder of the name of the last celebrity of the selected field still breathing, however long it takes.
Or you can be a little more callous about it, restrict the runners and riders to those in the spotlight who either look a bit peaky or have had one too many trips to the Priory, and run the game over a calendar year.
My variation of the game would see a cold commercial eye passed over your town centre, or your town as a whole, and a list drawn up those shopfront concerns which you reckon are hanging on by a thread.
Even when times aren’t tight every town has shops and High Street businesses which must struggle for custom.
It’s not just fashion salons for ladies of a certain age with window displays that don’t seem to have changed for 30 years or shoe shops stuck in a time warp where you haven’t ever seen a customer cross the threshold.
There are businesses which have been coshed by the internet, like travel agents, and ‘nine day wonder’ efforts like fish spas and milk shake parlours as well.
So draw up a list, get everyone to ante up, and see what happens.
You can pick outlets of local chains, but not national concerns – they may go belly up through no fault of their own, despite their popularity with local punters.
And if can be any sort of business that has a street-level presence, whether it’s an arty pottery workshop, a gift shop full of candles, cards and codswallop or a parlour peddling tenuous therapies to the credulous.
No restaurants and cafes, because they’re too vulnerable to the vagaries of fashion, but anything else should be fair game.
Then you’ve got more of a reason to spend time in your town centre, checking out who is still soldiering on and ticking off those who have handed back the keys.
At the end of the year, the pot is shared out among all those representing the firms which have survived to fight another day.
Oh, but there is one thing – you can only spend the winnings in those surviving businesses, rather than in out of town outlet malls, giant superstores or snapping up online bargains.
Anyone want to join me in the game to run for the rest of 2012?