Saturday, 11 May 2013

A Bothered Mind

While we are on the topic of things that bother me (we could be here all day), I'd like to draw your attention to a landmark from the 1970s, Mastermind, or Master Mind as it's British manufacturers Invicta of Leicester instist on it being called. A code breaking game invented by Israeli postman Mordecai Meirwitz in which one player selects a sequence of four coloured pegs and the opponent has twelve chances in which to guess the correct match. Simple yet fiendishly complex.

The pegs rarely fitted into the holes properly and inevitably some of the pieces fell out of the box between games and so incomplete sets of Mastermind have been a regular presence clogging up charity shops and jumble sales for the past four decades. I have two sets; the standard and the tiny travel version, because there's nothing like looking for miniature plastic pegs on the dirty floor of a train.

The cover has always been the thing that bothers me, the suave assured Bond villain's steady gaze and his enigmatic oriental companion ready to assassinate you with a flick of her costume jewellery. This is no John and Yoko. These two are going to mess your head up real good and crush you like an intellectual fly-weight. Just looking at them is enough to engender an inferiority complex.

But look at the reflection in the surface of the polished obsidian table. He's got a strange orange triangle on his head and she's lost an arm. Bizarre!

Also, take a look at the rule book. Shazam! She's wearing a cheeky/mocking smile and he's been sculpted from Play Doh. Why are they doing this?

Cecelia Fung and Bill Woodman, the models used on the cover, were reunited for the photograph above 30 years after the original was taken. Cecelia grew up to be a successful banking software developer and Bill is now retired from running a chain of hair salons (ahem).

At the 1973 photoshoot Bill began posing with a longhaired cat to emphasise the Blofeld/Charles Gray implication, before staging the arrangement we all recognize with he and Cecelia. However this was not before Mr Bigglesworth had done its business in his lap. Suddenly the arrogant git staring out from the box with his crotch soaked in cat piss doesn't seem so threatening, does he?

For those of you brainiacs who found the game too simple, tighten your wigs with this - Super Master Mind! - possibly featuring Madhur Jaffery, Christopher Lee, Julie Christie and Serge Gainsbourg, if my failing eyesight is correct.


  1. What really bothers my mind is that the Bond villain's reflection clearly shows the face of snooker funnyman John Virgo.
    I need to take my medication now, this is hurting me inside.

  2. I love Mastermind. They interviewed old Bill for the BBC I Love The 70s programme about a decade back which, given it's 'wasn't Jimmy Savile a delightful eccentric' stance, is unlikely to be repeated again anytime