Tuesday, 10 March 2015

I've Never Seen Star Wars - family style

Have you heard Marcus Brigstock's show on Radio 4 in the 6:30 comedy slot? It's about people trying things that they've not done before, then rating the experience.  It's often very funny - Sandi Toksvig in high heels and Ian Hislop buying jeans both made me laugh.

Confronted with rather bored kids this half term, I suggested we do a family version.  We'd each come up with things the others hadn't done and help them give it a go.

First up, Mark taught Miss B how to make coffee with the Baby Gaggia.  Oh how I love that machine! Miss B needs a little help removing the group head (the bit the ground beans go in) from the machine ready to fill it with fresh grinds, but other than that she's taken to it like a duck to water. That's brilliant news for me - someone else prepared to make me coffee. B's subsequently made 3 cups of coffee and does a pretty fine job. She gives it "5 or 6 out of 10, probably."

Next, Miss B was the instructor.  She showed Z how to plait.  I was the supplier of hair to be plaited, which did get painful a few times, but after B's expert tuition he got the hang of it. Sort of.  I don't think Nicky Clarke  - or even Chris Pratt - need worry though.

B remained in the teacher's chair for the next two tasks - showing Luke how to thread a needle and Z how to skip.  My ace mate Liz Merckel gave Miss B a small sewing kit for her naming day present when she was a baby.  In that kit was a needle threader, which B thought was a VERY useful thing when she rediscovered the sewing kit last year.  Luke's not got the best fine motor control, so a needle threader means he can easily do something that required concentration before.  Top notch.

Out of love for him I have not photographed Z's attempts at skipping.  He remained positive and enthusiastic - which was particularly laudable given the conflicting advice B and I were offering - but he just couldn't manage more than 5 skips before getting tangled.  I surprised myself by being able to demonstrate it at all; my knees have been dreadful lately and I didn't think I had any jumping in me. 

Mark took Luke somewhere to have a go at driving.  He absolutely loved it!  It wasn't far and the car is an automatic, so there's less to worry about than with a manual stick shift, but Luke did extremely well. He was giddy as a kipper afterwards.

Luke and Mark undercoated Warhammer figures to teach us some painting techniques but one of the lads' mates turned up and activities were suspended while they played  hung out.

After dinner was the main event - getting me to play video games.

I do NOT play video games.  At all. Ever.  Over the years there have been many gaming devices in our house and I haven't been remotely interested in any of them.  I do love Civilisation on the laptop, but even then I turn war off if I can and just play the science and culture strands. I don't even know how to turn the Wii U on, nor how the PS3 controllers work.  Nor do I wish to. So, when I said I'd give their games a go the kids were very enthusiastic. They've been trying to get me to play for years.

Each of the kids chose a game for me to play: Portal 2, Mario Kart and Call of Duty.

Portal 2 was on the PS3.  I found the whole moving and looking around simultaneously thing quite hard - two little joysticks and some buttons for jumping and firing portals at the same time.  I disgusted the lads (and had Mark agreeing with me) by preferring "inverted" controls. Apparently people have different views on whether the command Look Up means you tilt the joystick up or down.  Charlie Brooker and Dara O'Briain have a long-running disagreement about it. I'm with Brooker - I push forward to look down and back to tilt my view upwards.
A nice thing about Portal 2  -  as there was no time pressure I could work each puzzle out and try again and again until I could move about without crashing into stuff constantly.  I didn't have to kill anything or get yelled at, I could work it out myself in a calm environment.
The story of Portal 2 contains plenty of wit and imagination.  It was a quirky and interesting game. 6/10

Mario Kart on the Wii U with the game pad was a very different controller.  The touch screen was nice - just like my iPad  - but I found the holding position a little uncomfortable when using it as a steering wheel in the game.  It is a brightly coloured and noisy game - like a soft play centre had thrown up on my TV screen. 
 The pressure to go fast and keep up - even on the slowest setting - had me clenching my feet and forgetting to breathe.  When I finished the races I had a dent in my thumb from pressing the A key so hard.
After my 3 warm up races we had a multi-player race.  It was awful.  The quartered screen didn't give me enough of a idea where I was going so I was endlessly crashing, going the wrong way and falling off the track.  My best race position was coming 11 out of 12 and I couldn't wait for the noise to end.
Not for me. 4/10

For Call of Duty I was back on the PS3.  This is a FPS - a first person shooter - which meant everything I saw was from my character's perspective.  I had the same move/look around controls as Portal 2 with the added aiming and firing, swapping between weaponry and being under time pressure as ghastly zombies came to kill me.
It was utterly horrible.  I couldn't control anything worth a damn, the look of the game was dark and horrid, the actual point of the game was all the things I don't like - violence, horror, fear - and I felt a knot in my stomach the second I started. I don't find shooting things remotely fun and I hate horror movies. (I am a wuss who gets nightmares) I think Zach was right to choose it for me as I couldn't really say I'd had a go at video games without trying a FPS.  But bloody hell it was unpleasant and I am NEVER going to do it again.
0 out of 10.

When we return to this project Mark will sew a little lavender bag on my sewing machine and B will try a physical activity she hasn't before.

I'm proud of my gang for entering into the spirit of things with such positivity. I like it when we all Fearlessly Attempt things.


  1. I am very impressed by all of the family. You should be proud of yourselves! However, I do have a suggested challenge for your upcoming birthday! It shouldn't contain anything violent, unless that is aimed at the challenger!

    1. Go on, Marion, what's your challenge?

  2. Learn to drive a car [obviously at our expense ] with a view to passing your driving test.Are you up for it?

  3. It was on a wish list ,so if you are up for this "fearlessly" challenge, go ahead and book some lessons ,letting me know what funds are required. "Feel the fear and do it anyway", as the book says