There is something about the game Monopoly which tends to bring out the worst in people. My family is unable to play a board game without it descending into farce as accusations fly about certain people being picked on. They cannot accept that everyone is going out in the game to win, so when they are stung for the random throw of the dice putting them on Mayfair with a hotel, then the tears flow and the belief that they are being personally fleeced for millions seems to be genuinely held. Then the fists are stamped on the table as the money is handed over and bankruptcy is forced.

So that was another four hours of life wasted. Monopoly with six people is a lot better, but it is also much more complex, and the amount of money changing hands is not inconsiderable. Though we were playing the new form of moneyless monopoly, where everyone has a plastic card which “stores” their money. The only problem is that the game designers foolishly chose to colour code the cards in such a fashion that one card is dark purple and the other is an ever so slightly lighter purple. But then when you make the mistake of sitting the owners of these two cards next to each other, there is always going to be a problem. We can’t be sure of the end result of the game as we’re all convinced my sister was using my mum’s card to pay off her debts while collecting my mum’s income onto hers. She won the game by a stonking £13m (the values of everything have increased in the new form of Monopoly) – an impressive win, but a little suspicious given her general lack of good property.

What I wonder about is how many people have ever actually finished a game of Monopoly. It might be possible in one evening with only two people, but with six the property is so split and people so unwilling to deal with each other that the game chunters on with little prospect of those killer hotels appearing for hours. Only four hours into the game did we begin to see houses appearing everywhere, and by then it was 1am and time to give up. That must be the 10th game of Monopoly I’ve played in my life and I’ve never played any of them to their proper conclusion. It’s a fantastic game, but life is too short to “save” a game and come back to it the next day.

But still, the best part is the anger it generates. It’s meant to be a board game, something the family can all rally around. Instead the accusations were flying, and the tantrums were everywhere. Even my 17 year old brother joined in when he landed on the same property (mine) for the third time in as many trips around the board. So much for encouraging family unity. It is probably just as well my sister won, quitely amassing her fortune, as no one suspected it. As usual I was being accused of having many millions (I came second) by cheating people out of money. It’s something I’m used to, because I have a habit of winning all of these board games we play (except Cluedo). But it’s not true… I’m just a lucky player it seems.

Anyway… it looks like we’ve finally arrived at the end of the year. This is both good and bad. Good because it means there is a party tonight, and it’s always great to see all my family members, most of whom I’ve not seen since last year. And bad because it means I’m going home in a week. Bah.

I’m looking forward to 2007. Which is very easy, and not wishing my life away as usual, because it happens tomorrow. Yay.

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