I love playing dominoes. I love everything about them. I love the sleek, cool pieces. Tiles, they call them. I love turning them in my hand. I love the way our set of tiles comes in an old-fashioned metal tin. I love that once you have chosen your initial tiles and placed them in a strategically defensive line before you, backs to the other players, the superfluous ivory oblongs are put into a pile called the Bone Yard.
I was reminded of all this when Anna-mouse announced that I had to play a game with her while the bath was running tonight. We played on the floor, hugging the heater, because true to form with this house my heating isn't working. It was quite cosy on the carpet round the corner of the bed, which acted as a kind of draught-shield.
Immediately I fell into contemplation mode, which is another reason I like playing dominoes: it calms me. It calms Anna-mouse, too, something we discovered with surprise the summer she first played the game, at the time of her fifth birthday.
It was, in fact, the most difficult summer of all - the first after the Bim left the family home. In one of the many bizarre acts of love and ridiculousness which this separation of ours has engendered, we felt duty bound to honour a longstanding, pre-split booking to take Anna-m to see a performance of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in its live stage show incarnation, which was touring the UK at the time. Given that we live in Kent, readers will understand that it was no small commitment to honour, given that the nearest performance to us was in Devon.
So we booked two rooms in a Bed & Breakfast - a room for Anna-m and me, and one for the Bim - in a strange coastal village across the border in Cornwall.
It was there that our weekend, which was understandably fraught with tension, was considerably mollified by the gift to Anna-m by the owners of the B&B of a small wooden box of dominoes. Suddenly we discovered something which could unite us, something which brought all of us to a state of calm - one might even say grace. I remember sitting round a little fold-up table in the Bim's room, munching snacks and taking long, weighty moments to consider the placing of my next tile.
It was a revelation to us that for the first time our feisty just-five year old chose to abide by the rules of a game with no fuss; indeed took the thing entirely to heart. The July rain slapped the salted windows of the B&B as we played on, oblivious, and we emerged from those games purged, somehow, of our many and various sins.
I was reminded of this tonight. I was reminded how much I love playing dominoes.