Games piled underneath a console table

Physics lite: games console

Our columnist takes an alternative look at day-to-day life in the Department of Physics and this month, she puts a new spin on the idea of a games console...

I am delighted to inform you that this month’s article comes to you fresh from my newly completed garden office or the sheeed as it is currently known, much to my mother’s displeasure. I discovered when watching the 2019 cricket world cup that the sheeed is the Antipodean equivalent of the English cricket pavilion and I mightily enjoyed the frequent cries of ‘he’s off to the sheeed’ during the last final as yet another opposition batsman plodded wearily back to the dressing room. Mind you, given our performance in the current world cup we might as well have just stayed in the sheeed and saved our batsmen the humiliation of trudging to the crease and rapidly returning to the pavilion.

Our sheeed is not intended to be a garden office in the traditional sense but more a hive of creativity and the House of Games. Fortunately, neither my partner nor I have grown out of a childish love of play and we have moved our extensive collection of games up the garden. As I sit here looking at my console table, I can see it stores a lifetime of fun from Mouse Trap, through the full-set of Gary Gygax’s D&D manuals to Space Crusade and Dungeon Quest. We have a lovely mahjong set and are also keen on backgammon. The collection gives a whole new meaning to the concept of a games console. In addition, one or other of us usually carries a set of dice or a pack of cards and we have whiled away many hours in train stations and airport departure lounges playing Yahtzee and cribbage. The sheeed also has a lovely cabinet to display our extensive array of Star Wars Lego and an old oak chest for all our jigsaws – I’m currently enjoying the ‘Where’s Bowie?’ series.

Another highlight of the sheeed’s décor is the installation of the sweetie cabinet from my grandparents’ bakery. Nowadays I use this as my cabinet of curiosities full of interesting found objects – from an old clay pipe dug up in the garden to King Alfred’s cakes (Daldinia concentrica) collected on one of my favourite walks in Wales. When I was a teeny, tiny child – even before I could walk – I could be found sat on the counter of the shop stirring the latest cake batch while the work of the bakery went on around me and the delightful scent of freshly baked bread wafted round from the kitchens to the counter. My reward for this hard stirring work was a pink and white striped paper bag full of penny sweets (Black Jacks, Fruit Salads, flying saucers, sherbet Dip Dabs, gobstoppers etc etc etc). It wasn’t until years later when the bakery closed and I had to go to another shop for my sweets on the way home from school that I discovered that these sugar filled delights were actually a penny each rather than a penny for a bag!

For me, those salad days are long gone – and in fact I fear I resemble the green puddle to be found at the bottom of a half-used supermarket bag of lettuce than any fresh green leaves of lamb’s lettuce, spinach or frisée. And some days it is hard to greet the day fresh faced, bright eyed and bushy tailed. It is even harder to shrug off half a century of accumulated cynicism and welcome each new day as a fresh start with a fresh perspective… But then the smell of breakfast baking wafts its way through my olfactory system and I am instantly reconnected to those halcyon days in the family bakery when I was fresh from the press, full of enthusiasm and raring to go.