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Building a Better Mousetrap

mtrapold.jpgYou never know when something from your childhood will unexpectedly creep up on your.

I was having a birthday lunch with Marcelo last Friday at a Putney pub. When I went to the bar to order the food, I noticed Mousetrap sitting behind the bar. I’m a firm believer that all decent pubs should have board games to accompany one’s drinking/dining, especially those designed for ages 6 and up.

I haven’t played this game for years. Actually, I wonder if I ever played it … opting instead to set up the trap and then set it off, watching the little metal ball rolling down the drain pipe, causing the man to dive into the bucket, which somehow led a ball in the bathtub which caused something else to be set into motion. All this led to a plastic cage clickety-clacking down a plastic pole onto the cheese where your particular mouse may or may not be waiting to be trapped.

I had just come back from an interview in Chiswick, so I was wearing a suit … which is, I reckon, the perfect attire for putting together a children’s game. In a pub. In the middle of the afternoon.

So there we sat, trying to put it together. Yes, we had to put it together, as we were apparently the first to play the game in the pub. All the pieces were still in plastic the whole thing needed to be assembled.

“You gonna be all day with that?” laughed some guys sitting a table over. I asked if they wanted to join in, but they declined, not-so-secretly eyeing the game with the envy of their own lost childhoods. “Where’s the guy who dives into the bathtub?”

See, they too noticed this was not the game we’d played with way back when. The new Mousetrap is a modern reinvention, I guess it’s for the more complicated (ADD-riddled) youth of today. It has 3, count ‘em, three traps, and you never know which one is going to be set off when you flush the toilet. The old standby cage on the pole was still there. But now there’s also a kitchen sink that leads to a boot and a giant broom that sweeps you off the board (and actually onto the floor if you’re not paying attention) as well as a toy box that will toss you off in another directions. Mice are now being tossed about like midgets at a proper carnival.

There’s a “Waking Sr. Gomez” space. Señor G is a cat and when you wake him up, all players have to move their mice to the closest mousetrap space and then you flush the toilet 3 times (one for each ball in the john), and let the mayhem ensue. One trap could go, or all three. Madness!

There's also now a spanner (that's a wrench for all y'all back in the States), which is the equivalent of a "get out of jail free" card. Keep the spanner and next time you're about to get caught in the trap, you can toss a wrench into the works and not lose your piece of cheese. Very handy.


So we had a good laugh. I let the birthday boy win (beginner’s luck) and we packed up the game and handed it over to the guys who’d been mocking us a half-hour earlier. I’m sure they played it right into happy hour.

Now I need to go find KerPlunk and Hands Down and Tip It. And, yes, Mystery Date.

What games are you missing?