A Letter to the Editor 3

In which The Author writes the Letter of the Week
in the regional newspaper

Since deregulation and privatisation, public transport in South Wales has been next to useless. Quite a few of my letters to the press concerned the travails faced by people commuting to work. This one was published in the regional evening paper, the South Wales Echo, and was adjudged Letter of the Week:
South Wales Echo
Thomson House
Havelock Street
January 31, 2002
Dear Sir,
When I was at university, my friend Bob used to enjoy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. These were usually set in fantasy worlds populated by wizards and elves, and were very much the preserve of Tolkien buffs and heavy metal fans. I had assumed that the growth of ‘virtual reality’ computer simulations, particularly those played over the Internet, had supplanted these earlier games. It seems that I was wrong.
This week, one of my work colleagues showed me an advert in Buses magazine, for a company in Essex who produce a ‘Tabletop Buses Game.’ For £25, these people will equip you with everything you need to set up a model bus company. They will even paint the model buses in the colours of your favourite operator, so that you can re-enact the great commuter journeys of the world in the comfort of your own home.
Obviously the box-office success of The Lord of the Rings has revived the board game market. According to the advert, this game enables you to ‘run a bus company on time, at a profit, and by the rules’. Surely this must be the ultimate fantasy game, set in a parallel universe where the laws of physics are replaced by magic. After all, if it was a virtual reality simulation, the advert would read, ‘Run a bus company with no regard to time, with generous local authority contracts, and according to the whim of your drivers’. It sounds to me like the ideal pastime for the fantasy nerd who has everything – now where on Middle-Earth did I put Bob’s phone number …?

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