19 July 2010

The Clockwork Pac-Man...

Of course, Japan was introduced to Pac-Man (or Puck-Man as he was then called) way back in May 1980, and the little fella then came bursting out to dominate the rest of the world in the years that followed.

I liked him a great deal - "WACCA WACCA WACCA, old friend" - but was hopeless on the machine at the local boozer and proved myself even more hopeless when my cousin Brenda and her husband Paul bought a TV games system at Christmas 1984. This was very new territory for them (and me), but whilst Brenda failed miserably at mastering this exciting technology, Paul took to it like a duck to water and was very full of himself by the time that I arrived for a visit on Boxing Day.

Pac-Man was Paul's favourite, and I was persuaded to have a go. I was actually quite gung ho at the prospect after a couple of glasses of wine, but soon conceded defeat.

"Andy, you're not supposed to just stand there and let the ghosts catch you!" said Paul at last, thoroughly exasperated.

"Why not? They're going to catch me anyway!" I replied.

Paul took the game back, and was soon happily WACC-ering away, whilst me and cousin Brenda swigged some more wine, and found amusement with a small, clockwork version of Pac-Man which had been sitting innocently on the coffee table.

Wound up, he waddled along, opening and shutting his mouth and, thoroughly sozzled as we now were, Brenda and I decided that he looked rather like an auntie of ours who liked a drink or two at the local Labour Club on Saturday nights.

As Pac-Man waddled along the arm of the sofa, we intoned robotically: "LAGER-LAGER-LAGER..." - and shrieked with laughter when he reached the edge and tumbled onto the carpet, where he lay on his back, jerking about, opening and closing his mouth, and attempting to waddle.

We kept popping him back on the sofa arm, and doing our "LAGER-LAGER-LAGER" thing for what seemed like about ten minutes. This was, in reality, sober Paul told us the next day, well over an hour, during which time we became increasingly hysterical with laughter.

"Ruined my concentration!" sulked Paul - the Pac-Man TV game king.

"You stick to your Pac-Man, we'll stick to ours!" said heavily hung-over Brenda.

I found a very similar clockwork Pac-Man to the one which had so delighted us in 1984 in a charity shop the other day, and immediately began intoning robotically: "LAGER-LAGER-LAGER!"

"Lager? Wot you on about?" asked my mate Pete, who was with my at the time.

"Read '80s Actual on Monday and all will be revealed!" I replied.

No comments: