I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
Step one is to blacken the end of a cork by burning it a little.
An Ibble Dibble is a player who enjoys a taste of his or her favourite beverage. A Dibble Ibble is a black dot face applied with the sooty cork to the face of the player who makes a mistake. It comes with a demand to finish the drink in hand.
Players sit in a circle and are numbered. The first player says “Number one Ibble Dibble with zero Dibble Ibbles calls on number three Ibble Dibble with zero Dibble Ibbles.” Player three then says “Number three Ibble Dibble with zero Dibble Ibbles calls on number six Ibble Dibble with zero Dibble Ibbles.” Are you paying attention?
The point is to get the patter going without hesitation, stumbling, or getting the Ibbles and the Dibbles in the wrong order. A mistake is rewarded with a dab on the face from the blackened cork.
As the Dibble Ibbles mount up on the face of the players they have to be included in the dialog. “Number two Ibble Dibble with one Dibble Ibble calls on number four Ibble Dibble with three Dibble Ibbles.”
The game was played by the royal family in an episode of The Crown to the excruciating embarrassment of the utterly humourless Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
No one is suggesting this is a deeply intellectual pursuit; if it was, the royals would not be playing it.
The Beer Mile
The sanctioning body for this event, beermile.com, says the rules are fairly simple: “Each competitor drinks four cans of beer and runs four laps, ideally on a track (start―beer, then lap, then beer, then lap, then beer, then lap, then beer, then lap―finish).” Each lap is 400 metres, adding up to one mile.
A challenge for competitors is avoiding a “reversal of fortune” and depositing the recently chugged beer on the track. Doing so earns the offender an extra lap.
The beer must be at least five percent alcohol by volume and measure at least 12 oz (355 ml) per can. The favourite brews among competitors are Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller High Life, and Coors. These are, of course, all American brands, which, as any dedicated beer drinker knows, are not really beer; they are flavourless, fizzy liquids.
The current world record holder is Canadian Corey Bellemore with a time of four minutes, 33.6 seconds. His choice of beverage came from the Flying Monkey craft brewery in Ontario, Canada.
Fizz starts out innocently enough. Seated around a table in a pub, players start counting upwards from one in a clockwise direction. When a player reaches a number that contains a five or is a multiple of five, he says “Fizz,” and the order of counting reverses. When a player reaches a number that contains a five and is also a multiple of five, he says “Fizz, Fizz” and the counting does not change direction.
Buzz is exactly the same game but using the number three.
Then, some profoundly evil person decided to combine the Fizz with Buzz, so you get “one, two, buzz, four, fizz, buzz, seven, eight, buzz, fizz, eleven, buzz, buzz, fourteen, fizz fizz buzz . . .” The game requires a rhythm of one number per second.
It’s fiendishly difficult, and in all the hours of misspent youth in the hallowed sanctuary of the Bull and Swan pub (below) in my hometown of Stamford, England, I cannot recall getting past 21.
This is described as a “very silly game,” so it’s clearly one worthy of a serious examination.
Two teams sit facing each other on the opposite sides of a table. One team has a coin that they pass among themselves with their hands below the table. After 10 or 15 seconds, the passing stops. On the command of “Up Jenkins,” from the team without the coin, the team with the coin raises their hands in the air with firsts clenched. On the command “Down Jenkins,” they bang their hands on the table, palm down, trying to mask the sound of the coin on the table.
Members of the non-coin team then take turns calling on palms to be turned up. The object is to find all the empty hands first. Each correct guess scores two points. There are various methods of scoring all of which seem to be quite beside the point, which is to yell and stay well lubricated.
This can only be played in communities with a large number of taverns. It can be played as a nine-hole game, or, for those with an amazing capacity to hold their drink, an 18-hole course. For the sake of our bodies let’s play the nine-hole game.
Nine pubs are chosen and a drink is designated for each with par being the number swigs needed to finish the beverage. Let’s say at the Frog and Ferret the drink is a pint of Guinness and par is five gulps. If a contestant can swill it down in three guzzles, she or he is two under par.
The challenge at the Camel and Custard Pie might be a dram of single malt whiskey with a par score of two. There is an obvious temptation here for scoring a hole in one. But, beware. The tradition in well-regulated golf clubs is that a player who gets a hole in one has to buy a drink for everybody in the bar.
The rules, of course, can be refined; the Pub Golf Guide comments that “This can come in the shape of a forfeit for the loser or penalty strokes for players who spill their drinks, fall over, throw up, or do anything else which is worthy of a penalty. Basically, you can add in whatever rules seem fair, appropriate or funny to you before you start out.”
Fancy dress is highly recommended.
- Detonator is a game in which a full beer can is smashed into one’s forehead while shouting “Detonator.” This continues until the can crumples and spills its contents. It is advisable not to try this with a beer bottle. It’s said to be popular in America so this may account for the wide support for Donald Trump among non-college educated men.
- Snap-Dragon was a game that dated from the 16th century and was played by people who had no respect for good liquor. A wide, shallow bowl with raisins in it was filled with heated brandy. The booze was then set alight and players would attempt to snatch raisins out of the conflagration and pop them into their mouths with extinguish the flames.
- If you have a mind to, take yourself to Dawson City, Yukon where, in the Sourdough Saloon of the Downtown Hotel, you can enjoy (if that’s the right word) a Sour Toe Cocktail. It is what its name suggests.
- “The Crown: What Are the Ibble Dibble Game Rules?” Dusty Baxter-Wright, Cosmopolitan, November 17, 2020.
- “Bluffing Games Up Jenkins.” Databaseofgames.com, undated.
- “How Pub Golf Works.” Pubgolfguide.com, undated.
© 2020 Rupert Taylor