Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sundance Kid meets his nemesis

Hi Capet,
Congratulations on being a granddad. 87% of it is good, but let me tell you, not all. On Saturday, for T's 13th birthday party, we went to Laser Quest . Now, though renowned as a modest chap, I may have let it be known that while I was at Blundell's I was just about the best shot in the world, ever. So it was with a gentle sense of almost regret that I realised by just how much everyone else was going to fall short of my Deadeye Dickdom.
After the first round - you know the kind of thing, charging through a crepuscualr labyrinth, firing from the hip, all scores computerised, team and individual - T came top, L's partner a close second, J fifth; and me tenth and last, behind the two eight year olds - who, as J needlessly pointed out, travelled together, and therefore should have aggregated their scores as one individual.
During the interval I consulted about tactics, methodology, all that kind of thing.
The second round I cannot bring myself to describe.
So while being a granddad is full of pleasures and wonders, it is not entirely so. I cannot account for the sense, not just of wounded pride, but of existential hurt, made worse by the fact that B and his eight year old friend, despite knowing about my heroic stature as a marksman, up there with Arjuna and Apollo, were so unsurprised by their beating me that they left it unremarked. Is it possible that they take some things I say with a pinch... ?
No, I'm too hard on myself.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

mobile phones

According to Carphone Warehouse most teenagers would rather give up sex than their mobile phones.
One of the problems of growing older is that you know from experience that the old lose touch with the world, and therefore you know it must be happening to you, but you're not sure how.
It's not the intelligence that diminishes so much. It's that the human brain is very good at loading culture (all the non-biological stuff that was not part of you when you were born but is now) but not so good at erasing it. This is not a design flaw. A huge part of the brain would have to be devoted to working out what should be dumped, and how the mind should restructure itself to deal with the absences. Much more effective to use the whole brain to load and run culture; it's a big thing the brain, and by the time it's full the body will be fairly clapped anyway.
But that's why old people can't quite mesh up with the modern world, language and thought-wise, and why teenagers tend to sigh a lot and shake their heads. It doesn't matter to teenagers of course, and it shouldn't really matter to us, who should be getting ready to go, in our own good time.
Mobile phones are a clear site of the kind of evolution which leaves us fading into the past. They have transformed human culture in a couple of generations. For me a mobile phone is just a fixed phone that works anywhere. But to the young the mobile phone is a whole inner universe, and their interaction with the world, its connections and its potential, their inner picture of what human life is, is as different from mine as mine is from my parents', who never really knew what a computer was.
I can try to imagine what this virtual world which you can only enter through the practised and evolved use of the mobile phone is like, but I will be wrong, completely wrong.
Today on the bus I watched a young woman hold up her mobile for her mother, a large woman, more butcher's slab than catwalk, to do something fascinating but repellent with her nose stud in. As in a mirror. When there were mirrors.