Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas 1985 or maybe 6

Let me take you back to a simpler time.. A time when memory was measured in double figures of "K's" and Shakin' Stevens' Merry Christmas Everyone was the Christmas number one. He used to live up the road from me you know...

I was twelve years old and my sister was just gone nine. The Grandstand video game console that we had when I was eight had begun to lose its sheen. All our mates in school had spectrum 48K's with the rubber keys or Commodore 64's. Mam and Dad had hinted at the fact that we were going to get a computer for Christmas and I was so excited I could hardly stand still. My mate Rupert has a Spectrum and he had Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy on it. I couldn't wait to get my own, get really good at it, do the screen called "You Must Perform a Quirkafleeg" (nobody else had) and get playground bragging rights. I would be awesome.

We waited and counted the sleeps till Christmas. Finally the magical day came and we were up at sparrowfart. Bonkers early. I'm surprised we slept at all. We dragged Mam and Dad out of bed and bleary eyed they handed us stockings and made a bee line for the teapot. I opened the stocking presents and made "oohs" and "aahs" like a good twelve year old. The presents from the relatives were good. They also deserved "oohing" and "ahhing". The big moment was coming up though. There were some big boxes left under the tree and I knew who they were for. They were for me and my sister and we had a pretty good idea what was inside. Mam, who loves a bit of ceremony and suspense gave us the smallest one first. We tore it open, one at each end and produced a Phillips tape recorder. "Oh shit!" I thought in excitement, "this is actually going to fucking happen!". I had learnt some new words in high school. Then, a bigger box held a colour portable TV. "Raz!" I said out loud. That's what twelve year olds said back then. I think I also said "Skill!". The final box was presented to us and we tore into it with some venom. Just wait till I tell my mates I've got a Spec... Hang on. This is not a Spectrum. It does not have forty eight K's in it. This is an Acorn Electron with 32 poxy K's. I cannot share and swap games with my mates with their Spectrums. This is not very "Raz" at all.

This thought went through my head in nano-seconds. I realised that if I gave away the fact that I was disappointed with our big present, I could potentially ruin Christmas. So, with the biggest smile I could muster I rushed over to Mam and Dad and thanked them profusely. A computer is a computer, don't moan. Some kids don't even get this. Consider yourself lucky because you are. So what if your folks got the wrong one? They mean well and they love you.

There was a space invader game called Arcadians, a Frogger copy called Hopper and last but certainly not least, Chuckie Egg for the Acorn. I'd played that before on Rupert's Spectrum. Things were looking up.

Then something amazing happened. My Dad, my severely dyslexic Dad said "I'll show you how to put it together cause your Mam read the instructions to me the other night so you can have a go now." Quick as a flash, the TV, Acorn Electron and Phillips tape recorder were plugged in and connected to each other. The TV was tuned in and the cursor flashed at us. Dad then put Chuckie Egg into the tape player and typed CHAIN"" pressed return and play on the tape recorder. I was flabbergasted, my Dad could hardly read, but all of a sudden he is fantastic with technology. Maybe he is a secret genius? We went for breakfast then because you know, it took ages to load.

After I threw my Rice Crispies down my throat, Dad, me and my sister went back into the front room and found that Chuckie Egg had loaded. The music was playing and my mind was racing. Dad said "Can I have a go? I'll leave you to it then." I thought why not, after all he may be a secret genius. I said that it was Z for left, X for right and Space to jump. Dad said "Ok." and then proceeded to make Chuckie Egg his bitch. He got to level two, then level six, then level seven! Not even the spotty ginger kid from Geography had got past that level and all he did was play on his computer and eat pies! This was amazing. Dad got to level 19. On his first go. If you don't know, that's level one with the big bird flying around and the little birds too. It's rock solid. My Dad is now the coolest dude in the known universe. It was the best Christmas ever.

I now know that Mam and Dad bought the computer about three months before Christmas. When Crossroads had finished we would be sent off to bed, Dad would get the Acorn out and play Chuckie Egg like a demon. For hours at a time. For three months. No wonder he was awesome at it. That Acorn Electron gave me and my sister many hours of entertainment. I'm glad thay didn't get a Spectrum with its 48 K's. The rubber keys were pants anyway. Dad has kept the Acorn Electron and all the games we had for it in the attic. You know, just in case.

And that's why my Dad is the best.

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