I was brought up an only child.
Only child! Spoilt, would be many people’s completely inaccurate assumption. I was far from spoilt. When everyone else at school had Nike and Reebok trainers, I was rocking up, trying to make my Hi-tecs go unnoticed.
While everyone else at school had Sega Master Systems and Nintendos, my Dad rocks up with an Atari under his arm. See my previous post.
Louis was spoilt. He was the fattest kid in my class and my main friend during the infant years until he moved away. I mean he had a f*cking toy room that was bigger than our living room! Shelves filled and boxes and boxes of toys stored on top of one another. When I used to visit his house, I remember thinking it was heaven. Everything and anything was in that room. I remember the disappointment when his mother used to call us for dinner and I never wanted to go home. But Louis was so chilled out about it. It was no big deal for him. It was normal.
Then he’d come round my house for my birthday and we’d play in the back garden climbing in and out of an old dryer and playing on an orange space hopper from 1972 that used to be my uncles.
In later years, compared to my piers at that time, I’m sure that I have steamed well ahead being the first…….to go bald.
But I do have to laugh when looking back because one thing that my parents used to get me for gifts, were board games. Board games for an only child! Not so bad if they would actually play with me, but this was very, very rare.
I did have friends who I used to play with on my street but they weren’t always around. There are times when you need to entertain yourself. Besides, my friends weren’t really interested in putting the football away for a couple of hours to play Game Of Life. A nine year old me could have said, “Hey, lads, shall we go round mine and play Game Of Life? Please, I’ve never actually played it with anyone yet and I’ve had it since Christmas!”
“F*ck off!” would have been their response, at which point I would have to avoid a house brick flying at my face.
“Be a winner at the game of life,
Find a job, and money maybe,
Get married, have a baby,
Take a chance, find romance, make your dreams all come true.
Be a winner at the Game Of Life”
That was how the advert used to go and I genuinely remember it. Why do I remember that? More bollocks stuck deep in my brain and available for recall at any random unnecessary moment. But it worked. It drew me in. I must have shown an interest and my parents bought it for me for Christmas.
That game is bullshit. In the three times I got to play it, I don’t ever recall there being a chance of getting stuck in the monotonous, incredibly dull and repetitive grind of the insurance industry and regularly feel depressed about it. Imagine rolling a six, moving your little figure onto a square that says, “After fifteen years in the deep rut of the insurance industry, you question the very purpose of your existence.” Roll a four, land on a square that reads, “Congratulations, your athletes foot has cleared up. Your monthly budget increases by £16.49 as you no longer need to pay for foot care products.”
Space attack was possibly the loudest game ever invented. You effectively had to wind up a metal spinning top as fast as you could, hit a button and it would fly onto the board where you and your opponent had a red slider at opposite ends to block the metallic projectile that bounced back and forth.
Try playing that on your own. Winding up the thing so it sounds like a f*cking jet engine firing up and then the clatter as you try to play as both opponents. It was a very confusing time. Are you a winner? Are you a loser? Is it a draw? How can you compete with yourself? I’d sit there in confusion, not sure whether I had won or not and trying to come to terms with the pierced ear drums. By today’s standards, I should have been wearing ear protection.
Don’t even get me started on Guess who!
Then there was the board game that I specifically asked for because the cover of it was pretty badass. I’m talking about HeroQuest. The cover had a barbarian going mental, a dwarf, an elf, a wizard, orcs and other evil creatures from a gothic, mythical land. It inspired my 10 year old self.
Unfortunately, I never ever got to play a game of HeroQuest. No one would play it with me. So I spent hours, building the various rooms on the board and just pretended that stuff was happening. I still managed to entertain myself in some way for a few hours but I never got to enjoy the orc and ogre battering carnage that I could have unleashed as a barbarian. I could have been Conan damn it. Who wouldn’t want to be Conan?
I used to play in the garden, running around with a stick, trying to make Nunchuka with garden canes and a piece of string. Never worked. Then I’d climb in the old dryer and out again.
A ball was always fun. You don’t necessarily need anyone to play with, as long as you have a wall. Kick a ball at a wall and the thing will come back at you. Which is okay for ten minutes, kicking it at the neighbour’s extension, that is until they come out complaining about the banging.
My parents also bought me a Frisbee. How the f*ck are you supposed to play Frisbee on your own? Unless you’re a fast runner. I’d throw it down the garden, then run after it. Pick it up, throw it back up the garden, run after it and repeat.
I did actually manage to play Frisbee on my own, if I managed to throw it into the wind so it would come back at me, but this took great skill. It didn’t really last long. I miscalculated it and it went over the fence. But not the fence at either side of our house. No, the Frisbee flew into the garden of the house that shares a border with the property that you don’t generally act neighbourly with. I’m talking about the people who share the border at the bottom of the garden. You don’t socialise with them. You don’t even like to acknowledge they exist unless you’re looking into their house from yours with very good binoculars! But you don’t converse with these people. After all, they live in a different street to you! Practically aliens.
But they never threw it back. Probably because they questioned where it had come from. I had probably crossed their mind but then they thought, ‘No, that’s an only child. He runs around with a stick, annoys his neighbour with a football and climbs into that old tumble dryer. Who’s he going to play Frisbee with? No one. Must be from the pyromaniac kids next door.’
I’m sure those pyromaniac kids diagonally across from us ended up with that Frisbee.
In hindsight, my parents should have bought me a boomerang. Mind you I could still lose that. This is absolutely true. I had a little bit of a boomerang phase when I was in my late twenties. My friend John and I went into a large open space at a local place called Himley Hall. We lost a boomerang in an open field. The boomerang was yellow, in a green field. We thought we’d seen it land. For almost an hour we searched for it. Completely bemused by this disappearing yellow boomerang.
Our conclusion? That I threw it with such force, it hit 88MPH and went back in time.
I’m waffling so I’ll go now.
P.S. I’ve been blogging for two years now. Two years! I never imagined I’d still be doing it. But thank you to all who follow me and show your support. I’m very grateful. I don’t post as often as I’d like of late but I’ve had another project on the go. But you are not forgotten my Grumpyans. Please bear with me!
Many Grumpy thanks!