In a piece the other day entitled On Snitby, I mentioned in passing the computer game Demented Virtual Needlework. Several readers have contacted me to ask for further particulars. “Further particulars” indeed. Well, I mean to say! The absolute bloody nerve of some people! Some even demanded that I “furnish further and better particulars” (my italics).
The sheer impertinence of some of my readers is astonishing to behold. I get the impression that they think I sit here, day in day out, tippy-tapping these teeming thousands of words because I have nothing better to do, as if it’s all the same to me whether I prattle on about demented virtual needlework or Snitby or snags or jam tomorrow or a thing of beauty or God or an impromptu dinner party recipe or fubbed pannicles or Tinie Tempah or tin squirrels or an atoll or whatever else springs to mind, so they need merely snap their fingers and say “demented virtual needlework” and I’ll jump to attention and salute and say “Righty ho!” and immediately buckle down to bashing out a thousand words just to keep them happy. Well, it doesn’t quite work like that, buster. There’s a method, and I stick to it, and I shall not be swayed, so put that in your pipe and smoke it, as my father used to say, though he was not a pipe smoker himself. As I recall he favoured Player’s No, 6, a particularly acrid cigarette to the best of my knowledge.
By which I do not mean to suggest that all my readers are importunate rascals. Far from it. Many of you, I know, would never dream of writing to demand that I provide further and better particulars of anything under the sun. Even if you wished it so, you would not have the gall to ask. You would rather sit sprawled in your hovels patiently waiting to learn what is writ upon the tablets borne down from the Hooting Yard mountain, pathetically grateful, like kicked dogs whimpering for crumbs from the master’s table.
I need hardly add that there is not actually a Hooting Yard mountain. I use the term figuratively. But if there were such a mountain, as in an ideal world there would be, then it would be a mighty Alpine peak, snow-dazzled, its summit invisible, lost in the clouds. And most importantly, I would be the only one ever to set foot on that summit. You lot would be huddled in your flimsy tents somewhere on the slopes, cooking sausages over a stove, melting handfuls of snow into tin cups, tossing bones to the huskies. It may be that I have muddled polar exploration with mountaineering in that happy image, but that is my prerogative and you know better than to carp or cavil. At least I hope you do. And I do not want to be asked to give further and better particulars of that Antarctic or Alpine scene, or my wrath will be as terrible as an army with banners. I would be like Benaiah in Samuel II, chapter 23, verse 20: “And Benaiah the son of Jehoidah, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab; he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow”. Don’t think I wouldn’t.
Having said all that, I am aware that there are among my readers a few poor souls who think it perfectly acceptable to spend their leisure time playing so-called “computer games”. Personally, I think they would be better off familiarising themselves with the Old Testament or, if that is too much to ask, then they could at the very least devote themselves to rereading the Hooting Yard Archives, over and over and over again, until they can recite my complete works by heart, word perfect, with every last nuance given its proper weight. That is a practical use of anybody’s time.
But I am, as you know, nothing if not a realist, so I accept that some of you will want to muck about with your bleeping and buzzing hand-held digital brain-sapping gewgaws, your iFads and whatnot. If you are determined to shrivel your brain in such a fashion, then you might as well do so with the absolutely tiptop game Demented Virtual Needlework. The basic idea is that you can do frenzied embroidery without any risk whatsoever of pricking yourself with small pointy metal things like needles and pins. How great is that?
When you start the game, by pressing some sort of knob on your device, or tapping the screen, or whatever the latest thing is, you are presented with a virtual “piece of cloth”, blank and featureless and whatever colour you like, though the default setting is beige. Down one side of the screen are various virtual metal pointy things, and on the other side various virtual skeins of thread. You can mix and match these in numberless combinations, and then the fun begins. You can make the most fantastic and insane needlework designs and you will never need a thimble to protect your dainty fingertips!
We got one of our unpaid and half-starved interns to test it out, and within a few minutes the little orphan had “stitched” a design that looked as if a dog had been sick in a wind tunnel. We snatched the device away from the intern, took a screen-shot, and were then able to use this as a pattern from which real needleworkers, unpaid and half-starved and orphaned like the tester, were forced to create some real embroidery, down in the dimly-lit and fetid cellar. Naturally this was the occasion for much pin-pricking and droplets of blood and weeping, but the end results were superb, and we were able to sell them at extortionate prices at an unregulated bazaar. I think that is what they call, in the lamentable parlance of the day, a “win-win situation”.