That was ab-so-lutely fan-tas-tic - Simon Cheshire

Last year, at about this time, I took the exciting Strictly Come Dancing Bowl Of Nibbles Game out from under the bed and blew the dust off its box. So now, in the interests of balance, I've had a rummage in the wardrobe, and now we can all play X-Factor Clock Golf (TM). Hours of fun for the whole family. The rules are very simple:

  1. Play proceeds right to left, except when there's an odd number of players, when the first player to have a go missed is the last player who started. Take a card from the pile and throw the dice twice to determine the order of rounds. Popstar Cards are wild.
  2. Watch X-Factor carefully.
  3. Score 2 points each time Gary Barlow wears a V-neck pullover without a shirt.
  4. Score 5 points each time someone on your sofa says "Nicole who?"
  5. Score 5 points each time someone on your sofa says "That Tulisa's really tall, isn't she!"
  6. Score a bonus 10 points every time you look at Tulisa and can't rid yourself of an image she wishes she hadn't been stupid enough to start everyone thinking about in the first place.
  7. Move up one space for each judge who's no more qualified to be there than you are.
  8. Move one square to the right for each instance of Louis Walsh saying either "Yes, but they're different", "I've got a good feelin' about this" or "I really like these boys."
  9. Score 1 point every time Dermot O'Leary looks really uncomfortable and out of his depth while a contestant sobs on his shoulder.
  10. Score 15 points whenever the backstage stuff deliberately leads you to expect a brilliant performance, but it turns out they're utterly terrrible. Add a further 3 points for each judge who then raises both eyebrows. Add an additional point for each judge who cries.
  11. Score 12 if you spot this week's stroppy/ certifiable contestant within eight seconds of their first appearance. Score -19.5 if you fail to spot them before they start swearing and throwing the furniture around. All players move to a green square if a relative storms on stage and demands justice.
  12. Take a Popstar Card for each carefully posed shot of a judge in the make-up chair. Tear up the card if the judge 'accidentally' notices the camera and waves.
  13. Lose a turn whenever the phrase "guest judge" clearly means "regular judge has previous contractual obligation." Lose another turn when the guest judge is unidentifiable by anyone in the room.
  14. Lose all your points each time you can't help laughing at Louis Walsh's hair. [This rule is optional - games including rule 13 may be low-scoring]
  15. All players move back two spaces each time Louis Walsh appears not to understand the premise of the show, after nine years, by choosing a ridiculous novelty act as one of his final four.
  16. Score 50 points and a Golden Microphone every time you vow never to watch this exploitative, cynical rubbish ever again.
  17. The winner of X-Factor Clock Golf (TM) is the player who correctly predicts the length, in days, of the winning singer's career.
Before putting the game back in it's box, all players must do their Gary Barlow impersonation: one, two, three... Ab-so-lute-ly fan-tas-tic.

Simon Cheshire is a children's writer who'll be
your bestest friend ever if you buy his ebooks.
His website is at
His blog about literary history is at


julia jones said…
Love it, Simon. Have never watched X factor and don't intend to but it's permeated so far into general culter that I reckin I can get almost all of your jokes and a good first thing in the mornign laugh without ever having the trouble of watching it. Thanks
Dennis Hamley said…
If anything, I suppose I'm a Strictly person, having watched at least half of two of them. But Simon, you've persuaded me that I should at least give such a cultural phenomenon as you so lovingly describe a chance. I'll watch it one day, I promise. Then I can buy the game and we can play it when the TV is off.
Anonymous said…
Dennis, I'm definitely a Strictly person too. I watch X-Factor constantly telling myself that I'm wasting my time and that there are a hundred better things I could be doing... and then I give it "just ten more minutes". I am the very definition of 'self-loathing'...
Lee said…
My current obsession is 'Dr. House', but you may have convinced me, Simon. Why else would I have just recently invested in a satellite dish which could tune into British tv?
Susan Price said…
I insist that I hate X-Factor. I only watch it because my partner loves it. Honestly.

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