The Nicest Motherfucker

There are (were) two tabletop stores on one street in Glasgow.

One is bright yellow outside and bright-lit inside. It has twice the selection, three times the staff, and what must be the most micromanaged binder of Pokemon cards ever compiled. No matter when you go in, whatever the position of the stars or the waxing of the moon, some guy is rearranging it to some pattern only he knows.

One has wire security doors and a sign so faded that you can’t direct people there by name (and when you do, you tell them not to show up any earlier than one, even though the window says 12:00-17:00). Inside, the bulbs are a little dim and the air is a little cold. Cash, no cards – the owner is still steadfastly holding back the ’90s.

One of these stores doesn’t want to know you, and barely wants to know your money. One of these stores closed down last month.

Yes, of course it’s the bloody nice one.

Looking at these fine establishments, it’s easy to guess which has the unshakeable rep for ‘you want to interrupt our chatting with your customer malarkey?’ shenanigans. It’s the shabby little joint, obviously, else we’d have gone through these contrived parallels for nothing. What, you thought those florid descriptions served nothing greater than a telegraphed gotcha twist? Come, now. We’re both women of the narrative cliche world, you and me. They were in service of a meandering joke about gotcha twists.

Psyche.

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Merry ChristmasBrains

JellyfishCoach

It is half past two, and I am on a coach heading away from London. It is half past two, and I will be on a coach heading to Glasgow until ten to eight.

Every other bugger but me has put out their light, put down their head and gone to, if not sleep, at least some sort of waking delirium. I am a little island of white. I am a crystal jellyfish in an ocean of cut-price public transport. I have four hearts in my pocket and I am very, very happy.

Plastic hearts, I should stress. This was neither the aftermath of Aztecan revelry, nor an ill-considered metaphor for my feminine wiles – especially not the latter; I look like God ran out of faces and had to make do. No, these are cute little pixel hearts printed on cute little plastic rectangles, and they stand as testament to how bad Grant Howitt is at Rock, Paper Scissors.

I love you, Grant Howitt. I love you and your drunken lack of pattern recognition.

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Fairgrounds For Dismissal

'Taro Fair' by rednut on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

The only game which ever taught me anything was a real classic. Old-school graphics, retro platform, only one real mechanic to speak of: walk through a glass maze, try not to get bruises.

I was-

An indeterminate age. Something-teen. More than four, less than seven. I’d be specific, but my retroactive timestamping reference points – Lord of the Rings films, one Tuesday afternoon, which sibling had cut off which parent – stop working after fourteen. Remove the impossible. Spin the wheel.

-fifteen, it was October, and the Taro Fair was in town.

It was an old-fashioned thing that rolled up once a year and spread itself out across the Heath, spilling stalls and games and rides onto damp grass. In Autumn, it would have been a charming small-town tradition. In Winter, it was a charming small-town flu generator.

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Connection Interrupted

My friend killed herself yesterday and the last thing we did together was play Iron Grip: Warlord.

Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe the last thing we did was talk over Steam, her saying I can’t take it anymore and I’ve ruined everything and you remember when I tried to kill myself last year? while I sat, helpless with the distance of 378 miles, and sent back have you called the helpline? and it’ll be okay and *hugs*. But what I remember is Iron Grip: Warlord.

She was a generous player, quick to build and quick to mend, and I loved being alongside her as waves of enemies scrambled up the bridge; just me, my boyfriend and her against the odds. I thought playing with us would make her happier and I think I was right. I hoped it might help her and I was wrong.

You can’t fix depression with three victories and a retry, I knew that. You can’t even fix loneliness. But I wanted it to. I wanted it to chase away her shadows long enough for the helpline to be dialled, the call to be answered. I told my boyfriend yesterday that I hoped we were doing her some good, before I woke up this morning, before I opened my email and found out she was dead. Maybe she was dead when I said it.

I haven’t opened Iron Grip: Warlord today and I’m not sure when I will. There’s a hole in my team. There’s a hole in my team, ZP, and you’re not there.