I had a child staying with me these past few days. Not a random child mind – I met her at a service station. Now I am being deliberately misleading, probably to my own detriment so I will stop. Anyway, the aforesaid child is my girlfriend’s ex’s child whom they brought up together for several years (Cue Eastenders theme tune).
Anyway, much of the weekend was spent being justified in immaturity for once – and I loved it. I nearly drowned in the Thames on a rowing boat (I thought tides were for wimps) and I sat in the sun in Hyde Park while the majority of my contemporaries were wasting their lives in office blocks across the city. I got to eat spaghetti shapes that looked like Scooby Doo and eat Haribo until my skin started to seep out cola flavouring and my eyes looked like jelly eggs.
If this wasn’t enough, I went to a ceramics cafe and made myself an olive dish. It is pretty shit, but it has been some time since I attempted pottery of any form and my former impression of Demi Moore splattered in clay has been irreversibly destroyed. Still, I have an olive dish. Now I just need to start eating olives.
What else you ask? I played on an EyeToy. I am at a loss to actually explain what this is, suffice to say it is a webcam that you put on top of your TV and it supplants your head onto that of a cartoon character. It somehow knows when you are moving and how fast and is able to score you on how efficiently you punch up in the air or run on the spot (which is not very in my case). I dismissed this kind of ‘toy’ as modern trash before playing. In fact, as I began to play Simon Says with a virtual drill sergeant on a screen, I cried out, sweat dripping like salty tsunamis from my forehead, ‘What ever happened to board games?’. I admit, Pictionary to me as a child was The Future. It seemed so forward-thinking, all that pencil and paper, coloured squares and big words. I was seriously blown away by the introduction of a small tub of playdough when Cranium burst onto the scene and am still reeling from Monopoly – the DVD edition.
It seems that the days of sitting about on the living room floor getting sore arses playing Cluedo with your grandma are over. The EyeToy and such like are the next generation of interactive games. As much as I hated the concept, and although I know that the assault course would terminate my grandma’s very existence, it wasn’t that bad. I secretly enjoyed beating an 11-year-old in a game of virtual volleyball and I actually did some exercise – so much so that today I feel like I was hit by an HGV on the way to work.
I suggested Scrabble as a suitable post-workout comedown. Instead, we posed for a series of pictures that the i-Toy took of us standing in my living room. On reflection, I worry that the EyeToy is in fact a Russian spy. Or, more likely, a spy from my local council. If you think about it, it is a cunning plan. Trick loads of kids into buying a ‘toy’ that actually can watch people for hours on end in their own homes without arousing any suspicion.
If you read the Daily Mail today (please don’t), it says 1 adult in 78 has come under state surveillance. I wonder if I was one of them. More to the point, what would they discover about me? The fact that I can throw an imaginary javelin 44 metres? Or maybe that I have fake tan on my legs today?
In order to spy, surely there has to be something worth spying on? I can’t believe that every 78th adult has anything worth watching. Maybe I just lead an unbelievably boring life, but what really can these government spies determine from a bit of snooping?
It used to be that being a spy was a cool job. Just look at that James Bond geezer, he did alright out of it. Yet the whole concept of being a spy is getting pissed on by this latest government debacle. It is claimed that police and other officials tapped phone calls and emails an average of 1,381 times a day last year. I wonder how disappointed they would be to hear my phone calls:
‘What time are you home tonight?… Yes… I’ll make tea…. Pasta probably…. Yes, I know it’s the third night in a row, but I have Italian blood… Okay, I don’t, I’m a BNP member’s wet dream… Yes, I know I am… I finish at half five, not a second later… Cool, see you then… Bye.’
Despite there being, I imagine, a kind of kudos associated with being the subject of your own personal spy, it is a breach of privacy. One that I wouldn’t particularly want – I get freaked out at the thought of the spirits of dead relatives watching me have sex.
So what is the world coming to? After spending a few days with a representative of the next generation, I am still undecided. As technology develops, so does the world around us, whether that’s games or phone taps. It is unfortunately an inevitable consequence that we lose a part of ourselves as humans as the machines take hold. This doesn’t necessarily mean a Terminator-style apocalypse, but it does mean that we are trusting technology more and more, and with it, the few people that control the technology grow more powerful.
As Chris Huhne of the Lib Dems so eloquently put it: “We have sleepwalked into a surveillance state, but without adequate safeguards. Having the home secretary in charge of authorisation is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.”
There’s a very simple answer to all of this Mr Huhne – bring back fox hunting…
PS What’s your favourite board game and why? Comment and let me know… not for any reason, just because I am nosy and want to spy on you.