Funny Bones, 1968

For my birthday treat a few weeks ago, me and my husband went on a very rare kid-free trip to Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head pub to try a special menu – truffled beef stew as devised by Heston for Tim Peake on the International Space Station. The intense meaty, tarragonned stew was beautiful, of course, especially so as it was a menu only available if you wrote in to Channel 4 and were lucky enough to receive a special code after the Heston’s Dinner in Space programme a few months ago. The star of the show, however, was the Sweet Shop cocktail – a heady mix of “skittle-washed vodka”, frothed marshmallow, fruits and popping candy, with a wave of candy floss on top. It sounds far too sweet to be appealing, but it was perfect, like a kind of magical strawberry juice.

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We stayed in Maidenhead for the night, and I fell in love with the place – not least because of the unfeasible amount of charity shops selling vintage books that we found, and the very friendly shop keepers within them. We were so keen on the fascinating stock in one shop that the lady behind the counter jokingly offered us a “lock-in”, which sounds like heaven to me. The fact that I loved Maidenhead so much funnily enough feels like a crumb of comfort to me in the current political situation – our new Prime Minister Theresa May is its MP.

We came home with heavy armfuls of new books on the train, and this game, Funny Bones, which was worth its price of £1 just to have a look inside the box at the glorious 60s graphics on the cards.

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Brought out the year after Twister, this was intended as a version of that game as played with cards and teams of two partners. The cards themselves need to be held between the two body parts shown on the cards.

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And this is how you play it:

I’d never heard of it, and was amused to see the none-more-60s description of where this game could be played – not only at birthday parties but also at “Adult Happenings”. “Happenings” always has an orgy vibe about it but it sounded to me like some marketing man trying to get hip with the kids.

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A few of the cards, though…..they could be interpreted with a raised eyebrow.

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And….well, it turns out that this undercurrent was actually a little more *finger bone on the nose bone* than I first thought. Marvin Glass, the creator of the game, seemed to be two parts the Willy Wonka of games, and one part Hugh Hefner. Twister was denounced by some critics of the permissive society as “sex in a box”, and it looks like Marvin Glass had at least one eye on this market too. Here an excellent blog post describes the career and inventions of the man behind an array of classic toys – including SIMON, the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle and Mousetrap. Here’s the man himself demonstrating his new invention, the toy hypodermic needle, the Hypo-Phony:

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But it was reading about his feature spread in Playboy magazine that most tickled my funny bone. Titled unambiguously “A Playboy Pad: Swinging In Suburbia”, here are the post watershed “fun and games” Marvin was working on.

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You can see why Playboy were interested, this “pad” was up to the zeitgeist in 60s party terms. He had a “walk-in wet bar”, whatever that is, hi-fi controls built into a marble table, “a grand piano and microphones….awaiting the show-business personalities that invariably attend”, Picasso and Dali pictures on the walls, and a swimming pool.

It makes me think of a Hammer Horror porn film. I have a strange feeling of unease looking at these pictures. Go up the red-lit stairs:

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To the bedroom:

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And then hang out in the huge jacuzzi:

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The best thing is, it depicts people actually playing Funny Bones at this “happening”.

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I guess this was the kind of thing Monty Python was talking about – it breaks the ice at naughty parties.

In those halcyon days of early June, I suspected not that the purchase of this little game would bring me a blog post featuring the International Space Station, Theresa May, 1960s orgies and the game SIMON, but in this post-Brexit hinterland suddenly anything seems possible.

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