As a young whipper-snapper growing up in north Wales the thought never once occurred to me that I would one day publish a book. It wasn’t as though I was manacled with illiteracy or stricken by Bibliophobia, it was just that publication seemed like something that only happened in London or Hollywood, which might as well have been Mars to me at that time. It was too ostentatious for me to even consider.
So really, it was no wonder that when a friend pointed out an elderly lady who lived down the bottom of our road, and imparted to me secretively, “She’s written a book.” that I was star struck.
He might well have said, “That’s George Lucas” or “That’s Chewbacca”, (I was very into Star Wars in those days) because for someone on our street, to have written a book! Well, she must have been to London then!!
Looking back, that reads a bit small minded and, well cretinous actually. However none of us are at our worldly best aged ten so bear with me. You have to understand that though we’d been on camping holidays to Scotland, Yorkshire and Somerset, London might as well have been Narnia; a place where only television stars, unicorns and book people were allowed to visit; hence my incredulity that someone in Old Colwyn was a published author.
Anyway, I digress, so there I was, absolutely flabbergasted that this inter stellar super star of the written word actually lived down the bottom of our road, and it strikes me now that before this awakening, I had always seen her as one of the local weirdoes. She had two dogs, lovely big Golden retrievers which, apparently, were the heroes of her mighty tome. Actually, now I think about it, every old person on the estate, if he or she wasn’t a grandparent of one of the kids there, was classed as either weird or scary. How cruel was that?
Whatever, now it had been revealed to me that she wasn’t a weirdo, and would probably be in contact with George Lucas very soon, I saw her in an almost respectful light. I didn’t hang around her garden, waiting for her to come out so I could scream my adulation at her, though the thought did occur to me. However, I did say hello to her a couple of times. She looked quite taken aback the first time and must have thought, “Weird kid”.
It’d only be fair.
Now compare that to my kids when I told them that I, their father, had written a book. There would have been a better reaction if I’d said, “My toenails need cutting”.
OK, they were only ten at the time, but still, come on, a bit of enthusiasm wouldn’t have hurt. I mean I thought that Universal studios had moved to Old Colwyn when I heard about the old dear down the road!
My boy shrugged and, (infuriatingly) said, “So?”
My daughter, on the other hand was at first mildly thrilled until I told her the story line. I could see her eyes rolling up into her head and a driblet of boredom-drool seeping out as soon as I mentioned the Third Reich. By the time I’d reached the Teutonic knights I could see she was doing the “I want to be away from this strange man” dance… (Strange man who only works all the hours God sends to pay the bills, Missy!).
But there you have it, kids today are so jaded by this constant barrage of input that nothing has any real shine anymore and if it does it’s not for very long, (in the case of my daughter, approximately 45 seconds. My son = Zilch.)
So, you know what? I’m glad I’m not a kid today. Simply because they’re so awash with entertainment, it almost appears unfair that they’ll never cherish the recreation industry as we did as kids.
We have four televisions in our house, five actually but we’re giving one away to a mate of mine. Four televisions… we had one when I was a child, with three channels, (four in the 80’s) and it was about the size of a microwave oven, (and it hummed like one when it was cold as well).
Video games, there’s another thing. Video games were something that I spent all my pocket money on. Ten pence a go for Space Invaders, that was one fifth of my pocket money gone and you only had three lives. Nowadays my son plays with people from all over the world, shooting up the baddies on his Playstation 3, or scoring goals on a screen bigger than a coffee table… and I pay for it all.
I can imagine what my Dad would have said if I’d asked for money to spend all day at the amusement arcade down Station road…
It just seems that music, films, games, everything are to be found in such abundance that there’s no way they’d ever let a film like Star Wars influence them as much as it did our generation.
In a manner, nudging away the jealousy at the way society now accepts games as an integral part of its mechanism and not something to be frowned upon, I really feel sorry for them.
I can still remember the day Conrad Dingwall showed me his Atari game consul. To “simple boy Jones”, when we played on it, I felt like I was on the Millennium Falcon. My fave game was the two tanks hunting each other, we played that for hours. The armoured beasts were black or white and my mobile phone uses more pixels for the provider logo than Atari used for its panzers.
Or when Ian Adams told me about video recorders. I couldn’t believe that anyone would spend so much money on a machine to tape cartoons, (the only things worth watching to me at that time). Then out of the blue our Dad comes home with a clunky old top loader from Radio Rentals, and I felt like I was living in Beverley Hills. I’d love to know what the first film we watched on it was, I bet my brother and I talked about it for days after.
Or, even better, the time my Mam and myself saw our first colour television. It wasn’t working properly and the picture kept on changing from one colour to the next, purple to green, to blue to red etc., and my Mam said, “Look Rich, a colour TV. Look, now it’s red, oh and now it’s purple…”
I didn’t quite see the point but I remember the awe I felt at seeing a colour TV, something I’d only ever seen on “Tomorrow’s World” on the black and white we had.
I doubt the kids today will look at me through wonder-filled eyes and whisper, “He’s written a book”. Nowadays kids aren’t in awe of anyone unless they have an Iphone 5 or a Trophy Level 17 on Playstation… whatever that means?
But I do like to think that one day, just maybe, they’d read the book that the bizarre Brit with the long hair wrote and that it inspires them to maybe, just maybe read some more?
Who am I kidding? They’d probably think, “Yep, I was right, he is weird”.
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Division of The Damned
What if the Third Reich could own the night?
What if they had a Division of Vampires?
And if those Vampires didn’t stop?
If they had plans to conquer the whole world?