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The-Art-of-Conversation Part 2

I have a solution: put down the newspaper and forget the television to play games instead - not the video kind that totally absorbs a lone individual in a fantasy world to the exclusion of the real one; I mean proper games which involve two or more people sitting at a table interacting with each other, actually in person. Play them with the children, with friends, with each other. Monopoly was always a family favourite; plus Cluedo and Scrabble. Here's another - The Game of Life, fun for young and old, and pertinent as the name implies; and there are many more. There are plenty of card games that can be played with a standard pack; others specially printed like Uno. We have loads of these which we played regularly when the children were younger; then we became too involved in our own private interests and they fell into disuse. We still played cards on odd occasions, usually when the power went out. The true revival came during a trip to the UK.

Catching up with friends we hadn't seen in twenty years was a bit unnerving to begin with. We were eight people who had become strangers. Unsure how things had changed over time, we were walking on egg-shells. When words seemed to be drying up, someone thought playing a game might be an idea; I may have been the one to suggest dice, in particular a game called Zilch. "Never heard of it," they said; so we taught them. As individual players took their turn, the others chit-chatted, tentatively at first, but becoming more at ease as the night wore on. Next, the cards were on the table for a version of rummy that any number of people could play. By the end of the evening, sides hurt from laughing and because there was still so much to say, another get-together was hastily arranged. Twenty years of separation had been wiped away by half a dozen plastic cubes with spots on and two packs of playing cards; helped, of course, by the art of conversation.

Socialising with others is an essential part of our growth. From the day we are born there is a need to communicate, and not merely to convey the basics of survival like simpler forms of life: conversation is an enjoyable pastime, an enlightening and uplifting one. Social media can help bridge the gap when distance is an issue; but it is no substitute for a genuine face-to-face chat. Tone of voice, facial expressions and body language make the words spoken more meaningful and less prone to misinterpretation.

My suggestion to the text addicts is to try it sometime - switch off the cell-phones and actually talk. For the families who never seem to find the time - make some. What should we talk about, some might ask? Well, anything and everything. Just ramble on. Conversation is like that, skipping from one subject to another, whatever comes to mind. Join the movement to renew the art of conversation. Then, years from now when future generations are discussing its merits and re-invention, your name might be mentioned as one of the original revivalists. That prospect really would be something to talk about!

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