Five weeks ago my wife and I made the move from Sydney. With a population of just under four-million people, Sydney is the largest city in Australia. We now live in Parkes – five hours west of Sydney. With a population of ten-thousand people, Parkes is the 99th largest city in Australia. (Hey, at least we stayed in the top 100).
We’ve bought a three-bedroom brick house on the obligatory quarter-acre block just five minutes walk from the main street. In Sydney, we used to rent a two-bedroom semi, twenty minutes walk from the beach and five minutes walk from a collection of great cafes, restaurants and a cinema. Parkes doesn’t even have a cinema. However, we were paying $360 a week rent in Sydney and the mortgage on our new house is $400 a fortnight. So there are some advantages.
We decided to do some minor renovations (relocate a couple of doorways, floor sanding, painting). Our builder Flapper assured us everything would be finished in two weeks. It's been four weeks since he started and while the doorways have been moved, there's no sign of any floor sanding or painting happening in the near future.
Figjam surveys the damage. Er, I mean renovations.
Flapper has been ably assisted by some colourful locals. Lydo the one-legged brickie is doing the brickwork. Baldrick (no description required) is doing something but I’m not sure what. Flapper’s apprentice Macca is young but keen and has been doing a great job, except for losing his favourite chisel down a hole.
It didn’t fall. It was pushed.
As you may have guessed by now, everyone in Parkes has a nickname. Flapper, Lydo, Baldrick, and Macca, I’ve already mentioned. Happy, Gig, Munger, Buck, Bang, Rafty, Mullo, I haven’t. The list is endless. No one seems to call anyone by their real name. (I bet even Flapper’s mum calls him Flapper). I don’t even know most people’s real names and I suspect they themselves have forgotten them through disuse.
The only person I don’t call by his nickname is Nigger. If you’ve grown up with someone and called them Nigger all your life it probably doesn’t feel as awkward as it feels to me. So, Nigger has to make do with Tony. He looked at me strangely the first time I called him Tony, a bit like Gollum looked when he heard the name Smeagol again.
We are currently living in the kitchen with our two cats. Our mattress is on the floor just next to the cats’ food and litter tray. There is a pokey little bathroom just off the kitchen with a shower and a toilet, but for some unknown reason, there’s nowhere to wash your hands (unless you have a shower).
It’s freezing cold (literally – we’ve been waking up to sub-zero temperatures for the past couple of weeks). All of our furniture and belongings (including important stuff like the PC and Gamecube) is in storage awaiting completion of our renovations. We are living out of suitcases. Our only comfort is the TV.
Everything we own in storage in the sunroom.
Not our proper telly, mind. No, our reasonably sized and completely functional telly is in storage (waaaaay up the back, naturally) and we have been using our unfeasibly small and not completely functional second telly. Or as my wife usually refers to it, the game TV. Only now is she realising what I have had to put up with if I wanted to fire up the Gamecube while she watches Colin Firth dive into the lake in Pride & Prejudice for the hundredth time.
How we live (including the TV).
Here are the telly’s faults in no particular order… It's mono. It's got a remote which doesn’t work. (I bought one of those multi-replacey-remotey things but it doesn't work either, despite the fucking TV’s model number being listed on the list that it’s supposed to work with). You can only change channels up, not down. You can only change the volume up, not down (be careful with that). The reception seems to ‘wander’ – so it can be perfectly clear one minute and then slowly drift into snow, the next. But the worst of all is that it gives out a loud staticky buzz whenever the overall picture is too light (or too dark, I forget which).
My wife may have thought it was good enough to be the game TV but as a telly TV it's wearing down her patience. To be honest, I'm surprised I’ve put up with it as the gaming TV for as long as I have. But it works just well enough not to be chucked out, so I am stuck with it.
Now that I think of it, my ability to cope with a shonky TV for gaming might have something to do with growing up with other imperfect gaming experiences.
Who doesn't remember playing an arcade cab that was so fuzzy (technical term) the aliens looked like gonks? Or had such a bad case of burn-in that it gave you double-vision? Or one that was missing the control knob leaving you to shred your palm on the exposed thread? Or kludging together a shit joystick with tin-foil and wire to extend its life for another game (Quickshot 2, anyone?) Or putting your C64 on the ground so you could chuck a hand grenade with your foot in Commando?
None of these quirks stopped me from enjoying games in the past. Hopefully, they won’t stop me enjoying them in the future. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s inevitable. I used to be happy with dodgy quality movies I’d taped off the telly – ads and all. Now I don’t watch anything unless it’s on DVD.
Although, now that I’ve been without any gaming for nearly 2 months I’m really looking forward to my first staticky blast on Ikaruga. Assuming Flapper pulls his finger out soon.