Ultimately not Playing the Game

There's trouble in store up the High Street when attempts to see the latest must-have 8-bit game are thwarted by the local prankster's deft touch with the stop button. So near yet so far...

Back in the day - the good old 1980's of course - people used to do the strangest things. Large swathes of the population used to leave their homes, step out into the drizzle and pack themselves into High Streets and shopping malls across the land - all usually at the same time on Saturday afternoons.


Their mission, should they choose it accept it (and they did accept it mainly because it was their only choice) was to do the weekly shop at Bejams, pay the telly instalment at Radio Rentals then pop to the Wimpy for a cuppa and a bender-in-a-bun (you still can) before heading home.


In today's 24/7 online world there's no need for such primitive behaviour. No need for shops either. Or a telly for that matter.

Then and Now

The ambience of retail establishments has improved greatly over the years. I mean, if you want to know what a deeply unpleasant place that a branch of WH Smith was like back in the 1980's then, er, actually just go to one now.


The Camberley branch of said retailer was the scene for a memorable yet frustrating encounter for me. Lunar Jetman had just been released and was being raved about in the press, but I'd not seen it yet and none of my friends had "obtained" a copy (with the emphasis on copy, allegedly).

Lunar Jetman and Crash Magazine
I got it ... eventually (and still have it!)

Browsing in "Smith's" one afternoon, my ears detected a familiar screeching sound and I saw that the fabled game was actually just loading up on the single Speccy by the window. I hurried over.

Now, shops were more trusting in those days and this Speccy had full open access to the keyboard and cassette player and you could probably have switched the telly over to BBC2 for the wrestling if you had wanted. Such trust was of course soon broken with outbreaks of creative coding such as:

10 PRINT "WH Smith is rubbish"
20 GOTO 10

Anyway, desperate to see the new game, I waited patiently along with another kid while it loaded. Just as the last few bytes were screeching into RAM, the kid suddenly stopped the tape!

Can I Get a Re-load?

He seemed perplexed that there was no game and I was mightily annoyed but this was Surrey so I didn't say anything and we went for a reload.

But this joker kept stopping the tape on every subsequent attempt! To this day I'm not sure if it was deliberate or he was just an idiot. I never got to see the game that day.

But mate, if you're out there, and you know who you are, I just want you to know that you are still very much on my "list".

This article is filed under: CULTURE