Are You There Moriarty? And Other Hilarious Parlour Games!

The Californian in me laments when Daylight Savings ends.  I hate the dark.  I hate the cold.  I would stay in bed all winter if I could.  You might be asking why I’m still here in New York, and I can promise you there are a thousand reasons why this is my current home, but that is a conversation for another day.  What’s important to share now is that fact that when winter hits, I start stocking up on board games, cards, crafts (knitting, anyone?), and cook books.  Anything to have fun indoors.  So when I heard about this silly indoor “parlour game” called “Are you there Moriarty?,” I knew I had found a gem!

“Are you there Moriarty” is one of the Victorian Era games that were designed to keep wealthy, idle adolescents and other young people entertained without having to undo any corsets and million button shoes.  But this one is very odd.  Apparently, two people lie down on the floor, blindfolded, head-to-head with about 3 feet of space between them.  Both of them are holding rolled up newspapers.  Person A starts by asking, “Are you there Moriarty?” and then Person B has to say “Yes” and then roll to one side or the other while Person A tried to whack them on the head with the paper.  The point of the game is to watch your friends smacking each other and rolling from side to side frantically like goldfish flopping around on the counter.  And to laugh at them.  Awesome.

It reminded me of the time, not too long ago I must admit, when my giddily drunken friend Jill called out in the middle of a party, “It’s time for the Phone Book Game!”  Thinking it might be something about names or word play, I joined the group that gathered.  I was wrong.  “The Phone Book Game” happens like this.  One person lies down on their back on the floor with their eyes closed.  The other person stands on a chair over the person on the floor and proceeds to drop the phone book onto their belly.  The person on the floor has to take it.  That’s the game.  But believe it or not, it was such a huge HIT!!  We played that game for a good half hour, laughing until we were tearing up from it all.  Now I can only imagine how successful “Are you there Moriarty” would’ve been as a follow-up game!

Parlour games involve logic, wordplay, dramatics, or light physical competition and can be played with groups of all ages – with or without alcoholic beverages.   Usually they can be played with objects and things you just find around the house.  And best of all, they are FREE.

Here are two more Parlour Games to try with friends this week.

“Squeak Piggy Squeak” (sometimes called “Grunt Piggy Grunt”)
Players sit in chairs in a circle, and one player is chosen to be the “farmer.”  Everyone else is a piggy.  The farmer in the middle of the circle is blindfolded and spun around three times.  He then has to make his way to the piggies and sit in one of their laps.  The farmer then says, “Squeak Piggy Squeak.”  The chosen piggy squeaks for the farmer, and he has one guess to figure out the name of the person whose lap he is sitting in.  If he’s right, he takes the seat and that piggy now becomes the farmer.  If he’s wrong, he has to keep on finding laps and guessing who people are based on their squeaks!  Now don’t tell me this doesn’t sound like fun?

“Elephant’s Foot Umbrella Stand”
This is a logic game that is best played when only one person actually knows the “logic” or “solution” to it.  A group of players sit around, possibly in a circle, and Person A (the one who knows the logic behind the game) starts by saying, “I went to the shop, and I bought an elephant’s foot umbrella stand.”  The next person, Person B, says “I went to the shop, and I bought an elephant’s foot umbrella stand and (Insert whatever Person B makes up).  Person A will then accept or not accept Person B’s object based on the logic to the game.  If Person B’s object was accepted, the next person, Person C, says “I went to the shop, and I bought an elephant’s foot umbrella stand, (what Person B said), and (Insert what Person C makes up.)  As the game continues, the players not only have to remember the objects in order as the list grows longer and longer, but they have to try and figure out the “logic” of the game.  And here’s the SOLUTION:  Every new object has to start with the next letter in the phrase “Elephant’s Foot Umbrella Stand.”  If Person B said “Large Orange Plate” that would be accepted because the second letter is L.  If Person C said a “Lost teacup poodle” that would not be accepted because it didn’t start with E (the phrase’s third letter).  And so on and so on.  You play until someone figures the logic out!

The bummer of this game is that they only provide you with one “logic” code, but you could pretty easily make up different logic keys to have many versions of this game to play.

I’m so thrilled by these games, that I’m gonna do some more reconnaissance and research for next Sunday’s post.  So come back next week and check out what I find!  In the meantime, enjoy your indoor silliness and good-ol fashioned fun.

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About the author

Danielle Levanas - Bargain Soul Huntress

Danielle was raised by a pack of coyotes in the Los Angeles hills. Since arriving in NY in 2001, she has had any number of strange jobs, including back-up singing for JELVIS (the Jewish Elvis), starting the non-profit LYDIA, and writing political cabarets. A huge advocate for travel as a way of life, you can find her at the Brooklyn Public Library when her bank account is empty, fantasizing about where to head off to next.
  • Kim

    Where did you find the parlor images for this blog entry?