D&D, Role playing, none of it interested me. There were about half a dozen kids at my school who lived this life. These were the kids you never saw at lunch hour. As soon as the bell went, they scurried away. It was a great ploy, the thugs would only bully what was placed in front of them, so they took themselves out of the equation.

I was an old friend of one of them. We drifted apart after a couple of years as our interests diverged and I kind of knew his absence at lunch indicated he was with the D&D gang, holed up in a demountable, throwing dice. I never asked him why he played, it just wasn’t a mutual interest. He never mentioned it either.

Once in a while they became visible. Someone would spot them and barge in (they would immediately move on). “Go and play football” was their cry. It was an ace putdown, the game summing up everything they detested. The quieter ones (my friend included) would pretend ‘outsiders’ weren’t there, inwardly casting invisibility spells. There was one guy who was full of clever answers. It was a dangerous game, matching wit and brains against the hard and brainless.

Strangely, what really shook them up were girls. “Do you think I’m pretty?” the girls would taunt (this was Essex and they wanted answers) and all wit and brains were nothing with blushes.