I’m always learning something new about Tourettes and what I’ve learnt most recently is that I’m not much good at word-association games. It’s no great worry though, because I’m not likely to be hugely disadvantaged by this.
Late last night I had a ‘ticcing fit’ during which I hit Zoë, who was supporting me, with a tiny grey cloud-shaped cushion. Moments later I shouted, ‘Mallett’s Mallet!’ This tic revealed both my age and my Saturday morning TV preferences as a child. But Zoë’s younger then me so I had to explain both the reference and the rules to her.
For everyone who wasn’t a kid in the 80s, Mallett’s Mallet was a word-association game on CITV hosted by jazzy spectacle-wearing Timmy Mallett. It featured a massive pink foam mallet and the little heads of two visiting contestants for bashing.
Timmy would start each game by rushing through the rules at top speed, at which point I would get very excited:
“Mallett’s Mallet is a word association game, where you mustn’t pause, hesitate, or repeat a word… otherwise you get a bash on the head like this…Boink! Or like this…Boink! The one with the most bruises loses. Look at each other and go Bleugh! Look at everyone at home and go Bleugh! Everyone at home look at them and go Bleugh!”
He’d then say the first word, and off they’d go.
I tried to demonstrate to Zoë how it worked but quickly realised I was incapable of choosing or saying a single sensible word because my tics kept barging in. Zoë seemed much more amused by this than by the game itself and we were both giggling hysterically as I fought to play it properly. It was hopeless. If I wasn’t saying a completely unassociated word I was echoing back what she’d just said.
Poppy heard all the giggling and came to join in. Here’s a small extract from our game:
TH: Light bulb. Biscuit!
TH: David and Goliath
It seems obvious that this wouldn’t be a game I’d excel at. But I hadn’t thought before about quite how incompatible Mallett’s Mallet and Tourettes really are.