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8:35pm on Tuesday, 21st September, 2010:

Cheery Families


Another one of the card sets I got in my recent pot pourri purchase of playing cards was a game called Cheery Families. It's just Happy Families, except called Cheery Families, and it dates from 1890. Not a bad find!

Like Strip-Tease, the game can be played using a normal deck: it has 13 families of four members each. However, being a game for children, they reskinned it with the suits as Mr/Mrs/Master/Miss and the ranks as families. Most people will be familiar with "Mr Bun the Baker" or similar, but here he's Mr Batter. OK, Batter, they use that in baking, I can see that. Mr Dram the doctor, hmm, well OK, a dram is a measurement for liquids, yes, fair enough (although surely he should be Dr Dram?). Mr Sole the Shoemaker, yes, that's more like it. What about these guys, though?

Mr Switch the schoolmaster? That must be the supple-wooden-rod kind of switch, so the kids back then must have been used to receiving thrashings.

Mr Goody the grocer? We used to call sweets "goodies" when I was a lad, so I guess it must be something to do with that usage.

Mr Bounce the Barrister? Hmm, no idea where that comes from!

I wonder if today's Happy Families packs have someone with this surname in them:

Well, if it's good enough for the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board...

I one saw a pack of Happy Families with the Bait family in it. Yes, the Bait family, as in: Mr Bait, the fisherman; Mrs Bait, the fisherman's wife; Miss Bait, the fisherman's daughter, and Master Bait, for when Mr Bait is all alone in his boat out at sea. I'm convinced it must have been deliberate...

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).