"Umm .... medium rare please".
It is claimed that the game of backgammon was being played as long ago as 5000 years (or at least, a version of it).
I remember the first time I saw the game being played as a young man/lad/twerp in 1987, when I was strolling through the Old Town of Rhodes, watching the ancient looking Greek men sipping their ouzo, laughing with and cursing each other in equal measures.
It looked difficult. It looked intriguing. It looked wonderful.
I didn't learn to play the game myself however, until several years later (around 1991), when we introduced backgammon competitions at a bar I worked in in SE London (not quite the same, I grant you).
We sat at tables outside in the sunshine, we sipped drinks, we laughed with each other much as those old men on Rhodes had done years before.
Thinking back though, we probably cursed more than they did, although it was just as good natured.
Anyway, over the years I haven't really played all that much but that hasn't stopped me buying the occasional backgammon board when necessary.
There's the wooden set I bought in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon back in 2001, intricately designed and hand made; it cost quite a bit more than I would generally pay for a backgammon board.
Come to think of it, it cost more than I would pay for most things right now, but that was then.
There's the similarly wooden set I got at the main market in Damascus, Syria (same year) in which, after the pre-requisite haggling (twelve for that, you must be mad), I got for $45, the American dollar being accepted in much of the region.
And so it is that thankfully, Joseph showed an interest in the game and managed to not only pick up the basic rules very quickly but also show an incredible aptitude for the tricks and moves which get you winning.
For me it's a win-win situation. Not only do I get to play my favourite board game all over again but I get to play with my son - it's quality time!
Actually, I say it's a win-win situation but the annoying thing is that actually, Joseph has managed to pick the game up in several months to the same level that has taken me over 18 years.
Tonight, our game started beautifully for me and I had managed to build up the mother of all blocks (non-players glaze over now) and he was resigned to sitting and watching me roll the dice and remove my counters, roll and remove, roll and remove. In the nicest possible way, I introduced the idea that he probably wouldn't be able to win this game and to prepare himself for a sound thrashing (of sorts).
He looked dejected but continued to throw his dice until .........
He hit me!
Not literally but to cut a long story short, he was back in the game and lo and behold, he turned the tables on me, but NOT before I had laid a very silly bet.
I bet him that if he managed to win, I would eat the pair of socks I was wearing at the time.
"You promise??", he asked, disbelievingly.
"Yep", I replied, full of ill-founded confidence. "I promise".
Well, he threw double after double and literally came back to lose by just three counters.
I wasn't laughing like those old Greek geezers by that point, let me tell you.
Under my breath, natch!
Erm ..... you want fries with those?