What have the Romans ever done for me? By Michelle Crowther

I wasn’t much interested in the Romans as a child. The excavation of a Roman Painted House in Dover in 1975 was big news locally and I can remember visiting and learning about underfloor heating, mosaic floors and Bacchus, the God of wine. At secondary school, we studied a little bit about the Roman army and the invasion of Britain in our history lessons, but despite having Richborough Roman fort on our doorsteps, I couldn’t get excited about a pile of stones.

At the age of 15, I did work experience with the Dover Archaeological Trust, where I chipped away at soil with a trowel for two weeks and found nothing. The most exciting moment was being sent to a hardware store to buy tacks to keep a red carpet in place for a visit from the Queen Mother.  To me, the Romans represented trays of chipped pots. They were definitely not something I wanted to discover more about.

A visit to Rome in my early twenties aroused my curiosity slightly, as I saw the awe-inspiring sites of the Coliseum and the Pantheon, but despite buying a guide book, its glossy pages remained largely unread, and the ice cream parlours had a far greater allure – bacio gelato – a taste sensation to die for!

When I was thinking about a theme for a new murder mystery, my husband and sons suggested a Roman-inspired game.  They were heavily into Monty Python at the time and “The Life of Brian” was almost on a continuous loop on our TV for about a month.  I wasn’t sure that I was up to the task, as I didn’t know my glutes from my cubitus!

I watched episodes of “Horrible Histories”, “Up Pompey” and YouTubed excerpts of “Gladiator”, the 2000 Ridley Scott film, becoming mesmerized by Russell Crowe’s “My name is Maximus” speech. I was warming to the theme – gladiatorial contests, public bathing, road building – it had potential.

Starting with the murder, I needed to know more about how people died in Ancient Rome, so I researched weapons, poisons, food, and hygiene, anything that might cause a death. Increasingly I found myself drawn to Julius Caesar, the charismatic and forceful politician, who was famously stabbed 23 times at the Senate.  Someone with that many enemies was a perfect murder victim, but I had to change history if I was to create any mystery around his death. What if he died at home, what if he never made it to the Senate? I had a germ of an idea.

I became totally engrossed by the Romans, borrowing “Asterix” books from the public library as well as visiting our local Roman museum. Now I can’t imagine why I ever found the Romans boring. Mary Beard’s TV series “Ultimate Rome” – bring it on!

Writing “Friends, Romans and Murderers” opened my eyes to a period of history that I had thought best left to school text books.

And the chance to wear a toga ? ….. well, who wouldn’t enjoy prancing around in a bed sheet.

Friends, Romans Murderers is available on Red Herring Games as a 6-20 player game as well as for large groups.



I really will have a bun in the oven soon. Chuckling to myself. Making bread today. Christmas pressie from @cosykiller
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Still struggling to think of murderous puns while bread making. Not doing well. All I can think of is killed by to… https://t.co/mOLFMS4xIV
Making bread on a course today. Can't get @CosyKiller 's joke out of my head about kneading a poo today. Up to my elbows in flour.
On a bread making course today. Nothing to do with murder. Though I am busy thinking of puns...
Had a crazy dream last night where i was called in to investigate a murder I had written that had gone awry. All to… https://t.co/PgZTh42l6h
@__accioash Looks fun!! Were you the murderer?
Clean white teeth again... it won't last. I like cups of tea too much.

Flexible and fun!

We contacted Red-Herring-Games for a party for a special occasion. Why going to restaurants to eat is the preferred activity to mark milestones is beyond me and my friends.   The choice of mystery was obvious, looking at the options from New Zealand on the web Red Herring stuck out from the international options.  A quick look at the site and games showed subtlety as well a range of choices.  The numbers you could have for each evening was important,  Red Herring had scaling options a good range of scenarios but most importantly were Jo and team being flexible, responsive and helpful.

Rachel McWilliam, Arts Development Officer, Lincs Inspire

Thank you Red Herring Games for the marvellous 'Murder!  Cargo Connections?' event that you organised for us as part of Museums at Night at the Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. The whole evening went so well and was brilliant fun.  I know from all the feedback that our visitors had a fantastic time. It was really good working with you and I have no doubt that we will do again in the not too distant future.  

A. Nonymous (council employee)

I would like to thank you and your colleague for helping contribute towards our successful conference last month.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy the evening and it was rewarding that so many delegates were able to participate in addition to the main "Actors".  Our conference evaluation froms included the following comments:
  • "Enjoyed the evening entertainment!"
  • The evening entertainment was great and the confusion made it great fun!"
With thanks and best wishes.

Sarah Spencer (Cleethorpes Chronicle)

I had no idea what to expect before purchasing a ticket for Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, which was being staged at a nearby hotel, and feared it might involve taking part in some way. However thankfully for me no acting was necessary, just some amateur sleuthing. "Wedding guests" of which I was one, were called upon to move from room to room in the hotel in groups, questioning a number of possible murderers with the aim of solving the mystery of the dead bridegroom. The interviewees were really fun characters and gave us all some good laughs. Of course they all had motives and it was a case of identifying the shiftiest. The wedding theme was particularly good, as it fitted well with the venue, the buffet that was part of the evening (with a wedding cake in the middle) and the fact that everyone had been able to dress up to fit in without going to the trouble of fancy dress. I didn't think I had enough "evidence" to actually accuse anyone but later regretted not even writing down my first guess as it wouldn't have been too far off the mark. The evening was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it and take part. I would definitely recommend Old, New, Borrowed, Blue as good for getting even reluctant or first-time mystery party-goers involved.  

Alan Young (Personal Touch Mortgages)

What a cracking nights entertainment! We don't get out much nowadays with 2 kids and this was exactly what we were looking for in a good night out. Lots of fun with tongue firmly in cheek and everyone kept guessing whodunnit right to the very end. Would definitely attend another!!!!!  


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