Grug hasn’t played in a long, long time …


A revolting thing which happens every now and then, courtesy of the technological age, is your computer game crashing. Usually it’s when you haven’t done a save in a while, being a little too overexcited at having pillaged a whole skeletal battalion and stolen their supply of stainless steel cryptware – then, whang! – the screen goes dark and everything you’ve worked for plummets into oblivion.

It just happened to me. Yeah, I know – I was supposed to be writing this. It’s no good getting all preachy and moralistic – I just wanted to get into the tower to find the telescope to look into the desert … THEN I was going to write this. I’ve had a few goes at trying to get it to reboot too – but nothing doing. If it had, I’d be in the tower as we speak, getting things sorted. Now I’m just damn mad.

We didn’t have these problems back in the stone age of our youth when the only choice of action was playing noughts and crosses on a boulder with a bit of charcoal. You just found some grunter to play with, got him to sit on the other side of the boulder, and the only decision you had to make was who would get to go first. Granted, there might have been a bit of biffo regarding who was a nought and who was a cross – but after this had been established, and you’d whacked Grug squarely across the bum with a brontosaurus femur or something, everything would settle down into an idyllic scene of Neanderthal camaraderie. There would follow many blissful hours of intellectual thrust and parry until either you or Grug had an urge to go invent the wheel or something. Or order up Chicken Delight.

Then there were the halcyon days of Scrabble and Monopoly. The only people who ever wanted to play Scrabble were the ones who couldn’t spell. Or worse, the ones who knew really obscure words like znqrkx – which, incidentally, means ‘to threaten an opposing player with a brontosaurus femur’. It isn’t in the dictionary either, so don’t bother checking.

Monopoly was for the terminally greedy. There would always be one person with more hotel rooms than a SOCOG organising committee, who wouldn’t give a stuff about their fellow players who were either languishing in gaol or huddled under a bench at Fenchurch Street Station with a bit of old newspaper wrapped around them for warmth and used McCain’s pizza boxes taped around their feet. When you’d beg them to lend you some money to make just one teensy little real estate transaction so you could ease your way back into the game, they’d refuse. It made you want to znqrkx.

After a while – or a few whiles, anyway – along came Trivial Pursuit. This appealed to the yups and the smartarses who thought they knew everything. Which we did, until a Sports and Leisure question reared its ugly head. Nobody can ever answer the S&L questions, because the only people who might have the remotest idea of the answers are unable to read the questions in the first place. Most of them are still sitting around the boulder deciding whether they are a nought or a cross. The most challenging part of Trivial Pursuit was trying to pry the little coloured triangle thingies out of the whatsits afterwards. This also made you want to znqrkx.

When computer games came along, you were able to be totally insular at last. Nobody would know exactly how dumb you really were. You could lock yourself away in a dark room, happily building your little empire, fighting your little battles, stockpiling treasures into the night while the rest of the family starved and the scum around the bathtub solidified and became moss-encrusted. By four in the morning, your eyeballs were dragging on the keyboard and your underarm hair was bristling with indignation out of the bottom of your sleeves. Nobody gave a damn. They’d forgotten you existed when no meal appeared on the table, and called up Chicken Delight.

Be aware I’m just doing this until I can get my game to reboot. Dammit  – the charcoal just broke.





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