IT’S MINUS six degrees outside, we’re locked in a secluded chalet in the mountains surrounded by several feet of snow when deafening shrieks fill the air.
Women are screaming, men are shouting, and tensions are running high.
Sweat is pouring from people’s brows.
We all know there is no room for error.
Surveying the room with narrowed eyes, we wait for someone to make a fatal mistake.
Incomprehensible, crazed gestures are being made in team-mates’ faces in a desperate bid to get the right response.
Seconds tick by swiftly as someone thinks aloud.
“SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION!,” another one cries, before the tension dissipates, the exhausted crowd sinks back into the sofa and relief finally sets in.
Yep, no doubt about it, this was the most hard-core game of charades I’d ever played.
Fair enough, my fully catered ski trip to Val d’Isere was hardly The Shining, but my own little taste of cabin fever certainly saw my blood pressure shoot through the roof.
In fact, re-living those nerve-racking rounds is stressing me out just writing about it.
But until what’s supposed to be a family-friendly game was brought into the mix, we were getting on so well.
Thrown together just days before the charades incident, the group of 11 of us barely knew each other.
We were pretty much complete strangers, with just one friend in common, but were all up for a fun skiing holiday and met at the airport before jetting off for a week in France.
Charades rivalry aside, we did pitch in and work together when the going got tough.
One day, it was bucketing down with snow, making it difficult to see even a few feet ahead, and I found it all too much.
My legs turned to jelly and I froze on the mountain, completely terrified at the thought of toppling over, losing my skis and most of my dignity on the way down.
But my fellow holidaygoers, who I’d only recently met, came to my rescue.
They were be there through my panicky ordeal and encouraged me down gently.
The thought of booze at the bottom of the slopes did help entice me down as well.
Despite it being a pretty unpleasant experience for me, I felt it brought us closer.
However that newfound friendship, support and camaraderie went straight out of the window once we started playing charades.
That game ended up bringing out the worst in us.
Cushions, tissues and nearby objects were flung across the room at opponents, friendships were pushed to their limits and profanities were constantly uttered under our breath.
The shyest, most unassuming characters in the group suddenly became competitive point-hungry players, ready to cheat and scam their way to the top for their chance at gaming glory.
And when the board game Articulate was brought out, all hell broke loose.
Arguments over who crossed the finish line first, who answered the question the loudest and rumours of cheating caused major upset.
Perhaps it says a lot about the human instinct that the bonds that had seemed so rock solid out in the snow melted away so quickly when a competitive element was introduced.
The next day, nursing a few sore heads and bruised egos, you could sense something different in the air over breakfast.
Suffice to say, we didn’t play it again.
Star’s shock frock is a transparent cry for attention
A-LIST celebs turned out in their droves for Paris Fashion week, all vying for paparazzi attention.
These days there seems to be one sure-fire way of becoming the centre of a media frenzy.
And this time, it was Rihanna’s turn to steal the limelight.
The Barbadian singer rocked up to the Balmain after-party wearing nothing on top but a very see-through string vest and a nipple piercing or two.
Whilst I agree with the saying that if you’ve got it, flaunt it, the 26-year-old popstar took that to a whole new level.
It certainly did its job in terms of getting publicity and turning heads.
But after the initial shock, it left me feeling disappointed to see such a desperate cry for attention.
It’s sad when you realise just how low some celebrities will stoop, and it’s cringeworthy to see what is quite predictable and downright tacky behaviour.
These stunts reek of desperation, and hopefully her millions of fans will see through it, much as they did with her top.
Famous Oscars ‘grelfie’ prolongs annoying cyber craze
HERE we go again.
Another new photo craze is sweeping the Twittersphere – the ‘grelfie’.
We’ve already had the belfie (bum selfie), gelfie (gym selfie), and almost the lelfie (leg selfie), but luckily the latter didn’t quite catch on.
Now the grelfie – or ‘group selfie’ – has taken off, and we have American television presenter Ellen Degeneres to thank for it.
After posing for a pic at the Oscars with the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper and other Hollywood stars, Ellen caused the social networking site to crash when over 3million people rushed to retweet the photo.
The famous snap has since prompted ‘The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening to come up with his own cartoon version of the scene, complete with Homer Simpson.
Even the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester has jumped on the bandwagon.
The team re-created the photo with tiny plastic versions of each actor (a ‘legfie’?).
And now there’s a flipping song about it.
British singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt has penned a lovely ditty about trying to win back a boy...by posing for the perfect selfie.
Apparently she feels the need to tilt her chin at just the right angle and make sure the lighting is perfect.
All very important tips to remember, obviously.
I haven’t quite decided yet if listening to the song is more cringeworthy than seeing selfies, gelfies or grelfies.
But either way I’m hoping the self-indulgent cyber craze doesn’t stick around too long.