IMAG1582In a nostalgic throwback to my schooldays, I am playing an incomprehensible game which takes ages. I’m with Dan, who has been living in Canada forever, and John, who lives near me but somehow I never see him unless Dan’s in town. We were uncomprehending children many years ago, thrust into a horrible smush of entitlement and ego and told we had to grow up and find friends. We didn’t grow up but we found each other and kicked along being marginally odd but pleasant for a few years in each others company. We played a lot of almost incomprehensible games, but took the time to comprehend them.

With us is Ros, who is considering getting an uber (she’s got a kid), Jules who has been reading articles on her phone, and Mayumi, who is filling up everyone’s Sake. Apparently some of us understand this game. I certainly don’t. It involves stopping the world from being swept up in a pandemic. It mostly seems to do with little bits of jelly spreading over a rudimentary map such as you’d be offered by a cheap travel agent for a round the world ticket. “There are only 3 cities in Africa, mate.”

The problem is that as we get longer in the tooth our capacity to invest hours and hours in inconsequential fuckery is waning. I remember when I’d gladly stay up until 4am trying to work out how to get past the “Herbert Droid”, and think nothing of getting up at crack of dawn to go to school.

Dan and Jules make fuckery now for a living. They design build and produce computerised versions of what we are doing. Playing games for them is similar to me going to the theatre. They have a maker’s perspective, but they still love it. It’s good to see them, and I feel that in common. But for tonight I think the world is going to be consumed by jelly diseases because none of us have the awakeness to hold out to the end. This Americanocentric world that only has a few major population centres is doomed. It feels a little like the news according to Twitter right now, while Captain Dickneedle hovers his little fingers over the big red button. So big. So red.

Yeah, we just gave it up. No surprises really – the outbreak team is simultaneously entirely clueless and totally blazé, and everyone has had way too much Sake apart from John who has never drunk in his life (and still incomprehensibly contrives to be one of my oldest friends.)

I’m in an uber home. We abandoned the world to the cubes of jelly, but it was great to hang out with people I’ve known for so long. There’s a shorthand that develops with long acquaintance. Strangely, though, I met Jules this evening for the first time in the flesh. And she easily became part of that shorthand. But we have many people in common, and loved people at that. And we both chant. We probably should have known each other for a while. We will see more of each other tomorrow. A new friend, I think.

Around all of this I’ve been back on the email train. Trying to make things happen for myself. Perhaps another reason I’m so glad to decompress with friends.

Now in this uber pool, someone gets in. “How you doing brother, where you from I know you’re from Africa somewhere,” he says to the guy driving. “Oh yeah, how’s that?” Says the driver. “From your name,” he says after hesitation. “What – Raoul?” Says Raoul, who is driving. “Oh uh yeah so that’s Spanish…” says my boy. There’s a pause. I think about suggesting one of the three places in Africa suggested by the game I’ve been playing. I decide that I prefer to sit back and watch sleepy London through the window. After about half an hour, Raoul lets him off the hook. “Yeah. I’m from Congo.” I don’t tell him it’s not on the map as far as tonight is concerned. The rest of the trip home is silent.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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