Monday, March 07, 2016

Watching people on devices

This is somewhat about story. It's part of my story. From a long time ago!

I have never really been into video games. Ever. To me Pong was interesting to play once or twice; by the time the Sinclair was set up with the tape machine, I was bored and ready for something else other than staring at a screen. I was never still for long growing up. Now I look around and it seems everyone has their heads facing down at a device.

I was talking to someone who seemed to me, spending a lot of time just racing and crashing a car on their phone. I told them that we did not have that sort of distraction when I was a kid - in the UK we had three channels, or stations to watch on the telly, and at 11pm (well, maybe a little later than that when I was a young whipper-snapper) they would shut down and a picture of the Queen appeared and the National Anthem played. And my Grandad always stood up when he heard it. Then t.v. ran later at night, then all through the night and we got Channel 4! The fourth t.v. station! Two (BBC1 and BBC2) were commercial free. So we had that, the movies, and playing for what we would do. I remember making a tube radio set. It wasn't very good, but I made it and at the time it was a sort of magic. We made forts. We made a go-cart and raced it with the one my step-dad had. I think that spurned a couple more on the street. My step-dad had a rel-to-reel Grundig tape machine which my brother Colin and I would play with for hours pretending to be police, or radio d.j.'s. When someone got a new bike on our street, we all rode it. That's how I got the chip on my two top front teeth (another story for another day). We walked everywhere, or I ran everywhere, and when it was too far to run, I would ride my bike or take the bus.
Forts and go-karts

I got to thinking about what I did on my own. I wrote stories. None from those early years are still around. Same with the first poetry I wrote. I would go on these clean-ups and thrown anything out I thought was rubbish. Apparently I thought most of it was rubbish, and probably was! But I would also draw and paint, and make things. I played the drums and fantasized about being in a famous rock band. I wanted the band to be mine. I came up with titles for songs and write sleeve notes about the songs. Then I would SOMETIMES write the lyrics to these imaginary songs. Then I worked with some musicians and we put music to some of the lyrics. I would also make fake album covers. I still have a few of them, and some other pieces of art which were concepts for these fake albums.

I was talking to my son about time being lost playing video games. They are fun, and they are stimulating, but there is nothing to show for it, apart, maybe, a score on the web which shows your best game, and rarely people know, or care, who you are. I pulled out one of my double album gate-fold covers  I had made - one of my fake album covers. (Yep, I did a daddy thing!) It was for a real band with real people - my friends and my brother. The band was short lived, but quite good and was called Grover Bass (as in base, or bass guitar). We never made it into a studio, and I think we played, in that incarnation about twice! But that's not my point.

With a 35mm Yashica camera (or maybe by then it was the Pentax Spotmatic), some Letraset (letter transfers - each letter painstakingly placed and transferred from the film to its its proper place, or rubbed out and done again), a photostat camera, an old typewriter, and scissors and glue, after a few prototypes I created this:
The front cover and...

The back cover
Yes, the chap in the white shirt at the front of the very top photograph is the same young man on the front cover - my brother, the latter photo taken around 1983. This work, to me, was something I loved to do - create. I loved my camera and taking photos and processing the films and printing in our cold cellar. It wasn't until I went to college when the art of printing came easy to me - it clicked one day, and I could print! And there was something I had created, something I had made. It was not just me, but other people around me were doing the same thing. Painting, pottery, writing plays, songs, poetry and stories. Creating.

Playing games on devices is fun, but you don't get time back. There is nothing added to your existence, or to the existence around you. You learn nothing but reflexes and hand-eye coordination. I have some mediocre artwork which I quite like (the inner photos of the gate-fold were not all that great!) which I made with friends and family. I can still hold it in my hand and show my kids. My son went and dove into his sketch book. I smiled.

There are still some songs/poems I have not written yet from the titles on this album cover. One day I might have them done!


David Arfa said...

Sweet post Simon. Great memories. Thank you. I remember lots of curb ball where we threw the tennis ball against the curb and because it was curved, never knew if it would be a pop up, a grounder or an airball going into the bushes across the street. We also had twig boat races after the rainstorms, following new streams that would flow in the streets to the drains. David A

Hope Lewis said...

Thank you, Simon. I think of all the things that I can pick up in my hands that I have created. How quintessentially different it is to gain a "product" rather than lose time. Sadly, as I got older and entered the tribe of Adults, what I made was no longer good enough, no longer perfect enough. Luckily, once I became a crusty old elder, it came home to me that it was creating for the sake of creating that beat like a heart at the center of my life. Even if I have never create a masterpiece, I have created peace, beauty and a sense of accomplishment.

Shimyl Ahmed said...