Oh, she’s good.
The second of my counselling sessions was a full on rambleathon touching on inappropriate reactions, sympathy vampirism, religion or lack thereof and fun. This blog is much the same…
All questions or stories around all but the question of fun were long and winding. They were marked by odd diversions, tangents and slippery slopes until:
Do you have a lot of fun?
It’s not a hard question. I have things I like and enjoy doing but are they fun?
I like reading (mainly comics or if we’re going to get precious graphic novels – posh word for comics) but my attention span for novels is shot and I don’t get the same kid in the candy store feeling when I go to the library now that I used to when hunting for intriguing novels with strange titles and odd nonfiction.
I like playing games but the games I play are generally mired in psychological horror or moral dilemmas that leave me agonised and stunned. They are interesting and at turns entertaining but fun?
There’s a sense of achievement (and achievements) in making progress or seeing a story through to the end. That’s kind of fun.
The controller eating kind I’ve walked away from. Time is too precious to spend on grinding and trial and error patience experiences closer to endurance than game. The last game that really grabbed me has been Life is Strange (more on that soon).
Before that it was the magisterially weird Twin Peaks homage of Deadly Premonition with its pleasingly meandering side quests and loopy dialogue and, of course, that soundtrack hypnotised me. The actual game itself is comically terrible, it’s the story and characters that pulled me in.
There was a little light bulb moment when I started talking about my ‘choose it wisely’ two hours of free time. It was a rare circumstance where daughter was in nursery and my wife was out with the two children for a course. The house was mine.
I had two whole hours with the strict instruction it was to be spent on anything but pottering or tidying.
I hadn’t the faintest clue what I wanted to do. Ordinarily I would have gone straight to a game but none of them really grabbed me. I could catch up on a show or two of the shows I love but bore / horrify my wife but again had no real burning desire to watch anything or spend two hours scrolling through Netflix.
In the end I did none of those things. Instead I wandered up stairs and fetched my electric guitar and plugged into the amp we have been using a temporary stereo.
It had been a while and it took a while for the rust flakes to fall away from my playing. It didn’t help that a loose jack meant I had to prop the guitar on my knee to keep it connected but it looked a little cool (in my head at least) if horribly uncomfortable (suffer for your art!).
I played and played until the little ghosts of long passed but hard earned callouses started to form again. I played clean, I played with dirt, with fuzz and fizz.
I played all the things that made sense and a lot of things that didn’t which took me down into the depths of memory via trial and error (A? No. Am. No. Asus4? Yay!).
It was fun. Creative noisy fun. I asked myself why I didn’t do this more often and promised myself that I would play again and more. I entertained fantasies of if not playing in a band then working with someone online to make something.
A decade ago I was in a band and at the point I finally started to relax enough to enjoy playing live had to leave. When I see bands play I remember those times and feel a little ache of nostalgia.
My final gig was a good one. My cheapy guitar started to feedback horribly so I had to get away from the stage. During the final song I stepped off stage and walked into the crowd still playing. It was a good way to end my short musical career.
After leaving I gamely tried to find another band or group of people to play but no-one wanted to play for fun. They were all wannabe rock stars. They were gonna make it man. They were looking for guitarists that could play like Noel Gallagher channeling Hendrix with a splash of Satriani. Oh and the Beatles, y’know nothing special.
That killed my brief search for a new band pretty quickly and then normal life intervened briefly and then nothing was normal again.
You’re back in the room
It’s the great parent cliche of parents channeling their frustrated ambitions into their children and pushing them into those paths rather than letting them find their own way and their own interests. I’ll admit the first time they showed the faintest flicker of interest in my guitar I went out and bought a ukulele for them to paw.
It was a well loved instrument until an accidental swan dive from the table ended its brief life. It did have a short zombie after life when I realised the fun noises you can make but it wasn’t to last.
Now they still have an interest and loved it when I played ‘happy birthday to them’ and they love strutting around during with toy Rock Band / Guitar Hero guitars they pretend to play.
There was a really cute moment when they grabbed the guitars and demanded we dance along to Let’s Dance. My son gets bonus points for the one legged Bradfield spin complete with white toy Les Paul. He then lost them for singing ‘twinkle twinkle’ at the same time.
Whilst I gamely (hah!) keep my consoles for the day that they are old enough to play I know chances are they won’t be as impressed as I was. My carefully curated collection of 30+ years of gaming history will be of minimal interest when games are beamed into their skulls and played through thought. They did like seeing Super Mario 64 while they were getting their hair cut though so maybe all is not lost.
With music however we can all join in making up ditties, playing with sounds and suffering enjoying elaborate dance routines (LA LA LA STAR! *spins* CLAP!) together.
I always pictured our boys playing in a band together (twins! We’ve got the whole stage schtick ready to go!) and I hope that the cubs do something musical whatever that may be, no matter if its guitar, drums or cat piano I can be part of it with them.
Now that will be fun.