Lynne Mortimer: Why Family Fortunes is for dinosaurs

PUBLISHED: 12:03 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:39 15 July 2020

According to Family Fortunes, all shopped out, and with nothing on TV and having finished her library book, it's only a matter of time before Mother starts moaning. Image: Getty Images

According to Family Fortunes, all shopped out, and with nothing on TV and having finished her library book, it's only a matter of time before Mother starts moaning. Image: Getty Images


What’s wrong with Family Fortunes? Well some of the questions need updating for a start.

Twister is just one of the party games that social distancing has most likely halted.

So it was, that when my daughter, Ruth, and her husband, Kev, came round for a first socially distanced meal, board games were not on the post-prandial agenda.

We tried to imagine how we might play Twister but decided it would be more of an exhibition event than a riotous, wine-fuelled escapade in which there is no telling what part of one’s anatomy might end up in another person’s armpit. Meanwhile, who is going to be so indifferent to Monopoly that they would be prepared to place a hotel on someone else’s Mayfair, knowing it’s going to cost them thousands if they land on it.

Our Trivial Pursuit, original edition, is now so old the map of the world has changed. In 2020 there is only one Germany, for example. Noisy games were out – the neighbours might complain – and so we opted for Family Fortunes, based on the television show in which contestants have to guess how 100 people responded to particular questions.

I think this too, was quite dated because, acting as question mistress, I was perturbed to come across this one: Name something women can do for hours on end. There were four answers and I hesitate to share them with you because. . . because. . . well, you’ll see what I mean. The card listed: Talk/moan (57) Shop (13) Watch TV (8) Read (7)

I assume the missing 15 per cent comprised random stuff such as embroider, knit, cook, paint nails, put on make-up, sing into a hairbrush in front of a mirror etc. Presumably the question pre-dates WhatsApp, Instagram and Tik Tok.

The trouble with being outraged by, in particular, the first answer, is that if I were to go on, and on, and on about it being sexist and UNTRUE is that I could be accused of moaning.

Let us look at that word ‘moaning’ (and I’m pretty sure it includes the term ‘nagging’). It is, of course, more often applied to women than men. The slightly worrying thing is that, assuming the 100 people are split 50:50 by gender, then seven women gave that answer. If I had gone through the box of cards, I might have found (though I didn’t) its equally sexist companion which asks 100 people what men can do for hours on end, to which a possible top answer might be ‘nothing’. I rest my case.

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Historic Woodbridge Tide Mill has reopened to visitors. Find out how to get tickets here

You can go anywhere in your mind and, having had time to roam my home county in recent months, I realise I need to take my grandsons to a number of wonderful places in Suffolk – before they outgrow me.

One of them is Pleasurewood Hills, in Lowestoft. It has changed hands since it was created in 1983 but essentially, it was and is the nearest to Disneyland you can get in Suffolk. The first time we went there was in 1986 when our children were five and three years old. The four of us and our best friends with their two daughters set off for the theme park with the sort of picnic the Addams family might assemble. A tablecloth, linen napkins, candlesticks and Bucks Fizz in Champagne flutes made for an elegant luncheon at one of the picnic benches. Our repast was much admired by the people on the little train that circles the site, drawing a round of applause at one point.

You can learn a lot about yourself in a theme park. I discovered (on a later visit) that I cannot work in-line skates. I had to be rescued by kind strangers when my feet decided to wheel themselves away from the rest of my body, leaving me hanging on to the perimeter fence, fully extended and unable to move.

Despite a fear of heights I did manage to go on the aerial ride across the top of the park. My small daughter held my hand and talked to me gently throughout. Then there was Woody Bear – the park’s friendly animal character. He got a mixed reception from our brood. Two of the kids were scared and the other two wanted him to come home with us.

The little people had the best time and they all fell asleep in the car on the way home, stuck to their seats by a mixture of dripped ice cream and outcrops of candy floss. We have to do that again.

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