Dave Gorman vs The Rest Of The World – by Dave Gorman

11 02 2021

When I was putting together my Christmas list (I can hardly say “writing” my Christmas list when I was pulling links together!) I thought how there was only one Dave Gorman book I hadn’t read, and so it was about time I did!

It’s a very simple concept, one day Dave Gorman put a tweet out into the universe asking if anyone wanted to play a game (real life games, not video games). He got replies, and went to play games with those people! There’s a bit in the middle of the book where someone wants to work with him on this “project”, (he definitely has previous with “Googlewhack Adventure”, “Are you Dave Gorman”, and “America Unchained”) but he says no, it’s no project, just something he’s doing for fun in his time off…. He doesn’t explain how he got from there to publishing it in a book!

The games range from Ultimate Frisbee to an Egyptian laser chess game to Cluedo to a random Cornish skittles game. The book is just him talking about the experience, the places he went, the people he met, the games he played. And just with his eye for detail (enjoying the simplicity of Cribbage having 2 pegs for scoring so you never lose your place), and his gentle chatter, it’s a lovely book to read. He met some lovely people, and some complete weirdos (including people who play Monopoly with REAL money), both of which made for fun reading!

For most of the book he keeps a scoreboard of him vs the rest of the world, though it does seem to go missing for some of the middle of the book (And I’m not sure there was a final total)! And for the less common games he puts an explanation in a handy box so we know what’s going on. As a fan of structure, this was pretty pleasing.

As ever, some of my favourite quotes and observations from the book (the last one is the most beautiful):

  • “There’s something oddly energising about sparking a memory from nowhere like that. I don’t think it’s the memory itself that does it. I think it’s the excitement at discovering your brain is so much bigger than you realised.”
  • “At Stockport bus depot I stood and waited. There were maybe fifteen fellow travellers at the same bus stand, all eyeing each other up carefully. No queue had been formed but we’d all made a mental note of the order in which we’d arrived.”
  • “There’s an unhealthy part of my personality that tends to obsess and collect; that will take things to extremes. I can be a dog with a bone at times. But I didn’t want to let it happen again. Not with this. It wasn’t a treasure hunt. There wasn’t a prize for playing the most games in the shortest amount of time.”
  • “I feel naked if I’m not wearing a watch and yet, when I want to know the time, I sometimes find myself checking my phone first.”
  • “There are no referees in Ultimate. Ever. At any level. Messing around in the park? No ref. Playing a rival club? No ref. World Championship final? No ref. Players call their own fouls and have to settle their own disputes. If you’re going to play Ultimate, you just have to accept that paying the game fairly is more important than winning.”
  • “I would’nt describe Liskeard as a pretty place. It’s more prosaic than that. If you think of all the little villages around and about as gorgeous old vintage sports cars – high maintenance, impractical, but lovely for looking at – then Liskeard is the rusty but trusty family saloon. And while those vintage automobiles are all very well, when you want to do the shopping you know which car keys you pick up. (If you want to stick with this motoring analogy, it follows that Plymouth is, um … a transit van.”
  • “I have grown snobbish about the world world of ‘organised fun’. I suspect I’m not alone. Holiday camps? Karaoke? Guided coach trips? […] I instinctively recoil from such things but I don’t know why, because all empirical evidence suggests I’ll enjoy them.”
  • “When we throw our cynicism aside there’s so much more to enjoy.”


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