You know what it's like. You jump on the bouncy castle with about seven or eight other little (or big) kids, you bounce up and down a bit, ricochet off some walls, maybe do a somersault if people move out of the way... and that's it, you're done. Well, you've got it all wrong. This is the WRONG way to enjoy a bouncy castle. The RIGHT way is to get five people you know, arrange to have half an hour completely free of irritating kids, and devote some time to the question of "what can you really do with one of these things?"...
- (Sumo) Wrestling. Two combatants stand in the centre and aim to hurl each other against the walls of the "ring", or possibly off the castle entirely. Winner stays on. If you have a greater interest in wrestling than I, the potential for imitating death-defying high-flying moves as you've seen on the WWE is great in such a soft, forgiving environment.
- Long jump. Starting outside the castle, run and hurl yourself as far into it as possible. Aim to touch the back wall with your outstretched hand before you land.
- Handstands. Done against the soft castle walls. Simplistic, but entertaining.
- Grabbing the walls and holding on for as long as possible before slipping off. Like those little sticky lizard things you can get and flick at windows.
- Massively deforming the castle. Works with walls, but particularly good when you can reach and grab an overhead "beam" of some sort, then wrap your legs around it and drag it down to the ground before releasing it.
- Snake race. All participants sit with their backs to the same interior castle wall. With their arms folded, they have to wriggle themselves over to touch the opposite wall.
- Hand grenade. Lob an imaginary grenade into the castle. Count to three, and then your friends must hurl themselves against the walls as if blown up. Mark your friends on the artistic and technical merit of their explosive dismemberings.
- Bodyguards. Either get someone to play the VIP or have an imaginary one, standing at the back of the castle, facing the entrance. An assassin, standing at the entrance to the castle, shoots the VIP. Everyone else plays the part of bodyguards. They must hurl themselves into the path of the bullet with as much dramatic flair as possible. Bonus points for a convincing "NOOOOOOOOOO!" and a contorted final resting place.
- Firing range. A variation on the theme. Participants bounce up and down, then mime being shot to pieces by the man with the imaginary Uzi, who stands on the mats outside to castle.
- Imitating scenes from The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded. Probably the most entertaining one we came up with. Contains several subspecies:
- Running around the walls like Carrie-Ann Moss does at the start of The Matrix. This is pretty easy to do if the walls aren't totally sheer, but made of big fat tubes stacked on top of each other, and if you can get plenty of grip with your feet on the canvas. With a smaller bouncy castle, see if you can kick off all three walls without touching the ground.
- Government Lobby one-handed cartwheels. Very tricky unless you have lots of space.
- "Dodge this" sequence. A simple yet satisfying backward pancake splat. Major bonus points for emulating the appalling continuity error that was in the movie.
- Crazy uber-slow-motion-dive-through-skyscraper-window-followed-by-mid- air-twist-and-shoulder-forward-crash-into-mat-while-firing-back-up-at-agent. From the start of Reloaded. Do your best. This was my personal favourite.
Imagination is important here; the possibilities are endless and here we have only scratched the surface. But imagination is not as important as making sure that all users of the castle are working together. Anarchic messing about does not work here, but a coordinated effort can be immensely enjoyable!