I’m giggling but also it is tinged with tension. I peep out from behind the large sycamore. They are three trees away.
We haven’t fully outlined rules of engagement. It was all a bit at short notice.
I was labelled the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ with the understanding that I would try and sneak up and say RAAAAARGH. But in this part of the park, there is no undergrowth. There are no fallen logs to hide behind. It becomes a stalemate. Both parties are stuck in their positions and the trees are too far apart for anyone to make a dash for it.
If I am to surprise them and get a good clean shot at a RAAARRGH, I’ll need to think differently. Obviously I could just run towards them and shout but they would just see me coming and be ready. And it would be shite. Like in jumpers-for-goalposts football when someone picks up the ball and runs it into the goal and thinks it’s hilarious but everyone else realises that something has died.
A fourth wall has been crossed. No, we must stalk one another. That’s how you do it. I see them make a move. I back away from the tree I am behind, keeping it in line with me. If I can circle round to the nettled area which I know at least two of them are mortally afraid of, having been stung once, I can outflank them . I am totally immersed in this.
This is about survival. It’s unclear if, as the wolf, I am the hunted and merely trying to get back to my den, or if I am trying to feast on their human bones. But either way, no one is looking at their phones.
I scuttle in a crouched run to an area where the slope of the ground means I have a bit more cover. I hunker down, my breath a mixture of exertion and giggling. Some tourists walk by and look at me. From their viewpoint, they can’t see any other members of my family. So I’m just a bearded wheezing giggly man lying on the ground on his own. But I can’t explain to them what’s going on because it would give away my position. They pass, no doubt on their way to the guards.
I hear our two-year-old say “where is Daddy?”. I’m not falling for it. I approach via an incline to where I think they are. I am careful with my steps, like an Iroquois scout, spying on the white devils who have stolen the land of the ancestors and gods. But I am also a wolf. It is a complicated identity. Keep up. I see no sign of my adversaries. I decide to run to the largest tree.
From there I can command a view of most of this area. It is also large enough that I can do that old Warner Brothers cartoon trick of gradually moving around one side as someone approaches the other side so that we are both following each other around a tree. I make my move.
But it is not the sound of me, the wolf. It is the hunters! My children have ambushed me. They are armed with branches.
Actually cudgels. Proper “mediaeval, killed in a fight outside a tavern with cudgels” cudgels. My wife tells me she had said to the girls to use light sticks and told them the sticks were just for waving in self-defence.
But they had dismissed that as typical snowflake nonsense and they picked up shillelaghs and waved them, hard, against my legs. It is slightly painful but funniest thing ever to happen to me in a park and I fall over laughing.
Is there a simpler more effective game than Hide and Seek in a forest? You don’t need any instructors, people in hi-vis with Garda vetting, insurance, a queue, or to lie out whether your child is under two or not.
You just need trees, a lack of dogshite and someone to play the wolf.