Diary of a Game
Batman Returns Part 3
Games programming is often a tedious affair; the endless hours of codes, coffee and 'stack errors' become a little too oppressive after too many late nights. Apparently. Bearing this in mind, the Dentons mob went on holiday. When they returned, Roy Bannon decided that Batman Returns could take a hike this month, and he'd tell the world about his vocation instead. Never ones to restrict creativity. We let him relate his tale...
Batman Returns and games programming may be very interesting, but once in a blue moon or every other month of Sundays — whichever is the longest — something wildly exciting (to me at least) happens. 'We're all going on a summer holiday'. Is it a modern day credo, or a rather naff pop song — can anyone say for sure? Still, the fact remains we were all going on a summer holiday, all set for fun and laughter for a week or two — well, a few hours or so at least. A holiday is a holiday nevertheless; be it in exotic climes or just down the road in New Brighton — believe you-me, it counts all the same. Let no-one tell you that distance is a guarantee of excitement and proximity a recipe for boredom. Some of the most thrilling adventures one will ever experience are to be found on one's own doorstep. Take the pyramids, the Mardi Gras carnival, the Orient and leave me good old New Brighton — truly a shining, facet upon this gem of a lane, New Brighton, where purest waters roll onto silken sands, where the pressures of life are lifted from one's shoulders by the gentle hands of serendipity and the seagulls serenade each soul that comes to experience its pleasures. Yes indeedy.
A squall gathered to the east and moved so rapidly towards us that I found myself leaning backwards, almost falling as I watched it approach. The grey blanket of cloud contorted, it's litheness hinting at the power locked within it, and passed above us to sit like some fearsome succubus upon our hearts. For a few short moments, beneath that dread veil, we stood silenced by its majesty — then the rain fell. A tsunami of water thrashed at us, bending our heads to the ground where puddles formed instantly, merged in seconds and soon formed a boiling, frothing lake as far as the eye could see. We stood shocked, soaking, all conscious thought driven from our heads by the noise that could have been some unabating explosion or perhaps even Armageddon itself.
Meanwhile, back in reality, it was your average sort of not very nice but not terribly nasty day. The sun shone when it could be bothered and didn't when it didn't, the clouds lightened and darkened for similar reasons and fortunately the ground was content to just lie there and not do much at all.
To see the sea...
The seaside can be a pretty interesting place after you've passed the boredom threshold and gone beyond the apex of ennui. Suddenly, even disgusting black seaweed seems interesting. Picking it up and chasing someone for half a mile down the beach seems like a really fun thing to do — even if you hate the touch of the stuff, and the person trying to escape couldn't care less if you rammed it down their throats. Still, you have to laugh, don't you? Crabs are a real hoot too — I spent a good half an hour watching one male it's slow, stately progress into the water before someone kindly pointed out that it was dead. Some people are just spoil sports.
The major drawback with a day out at the beach is — of course — sand in your socks, shoes, hair, butties, ears, nose, eyes, lungs, lower intestine, spleen, ventricles, synapses, sinuses, sub-glutinous tissues, major arteries and, most terrifying of all, underpants.
Inevitably, someone suggested a game of frisby. Yawn! I pointed out that we didn't have a frisby, which was a bit of a mistake, because then we had to find one — I reckon we probably could have got away with a game of 'invisible' frisby. A few hundred or so shops later, we found one within our price range (50p) and made our way back four miles to the beach. I reckoned it'd take everyone about 10 minutes to realise just what a tedious thing frisby throwing is, but overestimated by a factor of 10 or so. The petulance started almost immediately. 'You're crap', 'The wind blew it off course', 'I'm not going to get that', 'This frisby's no good.', were familiar battle cries for as long as the game lasted. Almost exactly 60 seconds after we'd begun, an equine came into the equation. We all stood around a small, circular piece of blue plastic lying in what is best called a steaming mass, wondering about the sagacity of playing near the donkey trail. No-one was too intent on rescuing the frisby, and I thought that was that. Someone suggested buying another frisby and was comprehensively glowered at. Then, in a moment of misunderstood sarcasm I proposed a game of French cricket. To my dismay this was heralded as a cataclysmically brilliant idea and with a budget we were off round the shops again. Luckily, (for me, anyway) £2 won't buy you even the most pathetic cricket bat and ball. I tried to hide my grin as we all sat on a wall outside Woolworths, pondering inflation and getting all morose about how things had changed since we were kids. Fish and Chips. It's got to be really. You may fancy a pizza or a burger but you've got to have Fish and Chips (and no, you can't have a pasty!) As an extra special treat (and because we were all cold and tired by now) we went to one of those places where you sit down to eat your fish and chips. The one we discovered was called something really witty — 'Seaside Plaice'. It was perfect — green and white plastic table-cloths, dirty cutlery, clogged salt and pepper pots, food stained menus and a waitress who exuded loathing for us tourists with a reassuring intensity. The fish was full of bones, the chips were cold, soggy and very artistically spread across the plate to give the impression that there was more than half a dozen of them. There was ample butter on the bread but unfortunately it only covered a very small area and resisted all attempts to spread it. Consequently we each got four mouthfuls of dry bread and one sickening mouthful of pure fat. The tea looked fairly nice but no-one dared risk putting their lips to the mugs, not knowing how close the nearest hospital was and whether you could bleed to death through your lips. Still, it made the cold world seem better when we made it out. Which, I'm sure, we only just managed — the waitress was holding a large knife as we paid the bill and there was a glazed look in her eyes. We left a sizeable tip bargaining on the fact that we'd probably get out alive as long as we ran like hell whilst she fumbled around in the till.
In search of amusement(s)...
To the beach or to the amusement arcade? It was a tough decision — the beach was free and the amusement arcade wasn't. It started to spit so we plumped for the amusement arcade. First port of call for me was the Penny Falls — or the 'Pennies Completely Defy Gravity', as they should be more accurately named. Someone dragged me off then when I started ranting and threatened to break into another quid in my vain attempts to get any to fall. 'Just one'. I cried. 'If just one falls, I'll stop. They move, why don't they fall?'. I'd barely taken two steps away from the machine when there was an amazing clatter, and I turned back stunned to see a little old lady casually stuffing her pockets with the pennies I'd been inadvertently priming for her. Bah. Skeet shooting next. Ten pence to point a lump of wood (that would almost resemble a shotgun if it wasn't the cello tape and the 45 degree kink halfway along) at a barely perceptible glow on a section of cloth painted with green things which were, presumably, meant to be trees. The large, red LEDs seemed to indicate I'd scored 175 points and, as a test, I parted with another 10p and scored 175 without even lifting the gun. Hmmm. All this time, calling to us silently but irresistibly, were the bingo seats all down one wall. We knew that the prizes were worth less than the entry charge, we knew we had minimal chance against the expert grannies, we even knew that Bingo was probably the most facile form of entertainment thought up since fish massaging, yet we couldn't resist. 6 minutes 47 seconds later... who knows? I may have won if I hadn't been looking at my watch constantly. Afterwards, we were all 50p worse off but quite relieved we didn't have to spend the rest of the day carrying around a brass flower vase that could single-handedly spoil the decor of any room in any house on the planet.
We left the arcade and with a deep regret (that it hadn't happened much earlier?) we made our way back to the car. We had a game of count-the-coloured-cars which I — rather surprisingly — won with dark grey, when several Panzer divisions passed us going through the Mersey tunnel.
I went to bed tired but content (although I couldn't tell you why) and started dreaming about bits, bytes, pixels and the strange inhabitants of Gotham City...
If you have any idea what should go in this box, please let me know! :)