I used to enjoy it. If I had a bit of spare time, I'd warble on for a few paragraphs, publish it, look forward to getting some comments, get excited about new posts by some of my favourite bloggers and read them with a cuppa and a garibaldi.
Life, in it's selfish, inimitable way, keeps rearing it's ignorant head and demanding attention, like the world's biggest and rudest baby starling, beak agape and begging insistently for the worms of necessity, forcing me to grub around in the mulchy humus of existence for whatever scraps of sustenance I can find, dutifully supplying it with whatever it needs when I'd really rather be flocking with the lads, wheeling about at dusk and shitting on clean cars.
This lack of me time has led to my neglecting this blog, as well as those I follow, and for this I can only apologise. I shall endeavour to make more of an effort in the next few weeks, so please feel free to lambast me for my tardiness.
Lambast me good.
I recall when time was so plentiful you had to find imaginative ways to fill it. Games and toys were obviously de rigeur for firing the imagination, although when you're a kid you can make do with a stick and some pebbles. And a target.
Remember playing War?
In your head, you and your mates would all be a specialist army commando unit, stealthily moving through the undergrowth to creep up on an enemy position, before launching an all out attack with blood curdling screams on unsuspecting baddies, shooting with deadly accuracy as they tried to escape into the jungle.
Or you were all half-cyborg space marines, stealthily moving through the star-destroyer to creep up on an enemy position before launching an all out attack with blood-curdling screams on unsuspecting baddies, shooting with deadly accuracy as they tried to escape into the vacuum.
Or you were all psychic ninjas, stealthily moving . . . well you get the picture.
To those uneducated in the dark art of warfare, the above exercises might have looked like some small bipeds with mud on their faces, skinless knees and hair sticking out at every conceivable angle carrying sticks and jumping out from behind walls to frighten elderly cats in the hope that they'd hack up a fur ball in panic.
The point is, accurate props aren't that necessary to small boys in the pursuit of excitement and replica derring-do. Being a middle-class libertarian, I wonder whether I will buy my son a toy gun, or will I try and persuade him that bead-work and craft dollies are just as exciting?
I think I will probably allow him to have one if he asks, but I won't be advertising the fact that guns are cooooool.
Strangely I have no such compunction against knives, having had one since I was a boy myself, and feel that they are an intrinsic part of growing up and, in fact, part of our human heritage. We've got a lot done since we started sharpening flint.
Recent demonisation of knives in the media because ignorant, barely literate teenagers have had a bonkers knife fight in a city doesn't stop me thinking of them as a generally wholesome sort of thing. As a boy, if you are given a knife with appropriate responsible direction and instruction, you learn how to hold it, sharpen it, use it safely and keep it in tip top condition until you decide to dig a trench with it and wonder why it then resembles a saw.
We all had penknives when I was young, and we all had fights as well, but no-one ever mixed the two.
Guns that are not used for defence and hunting, however, are out of step with human emotion. Our nature suggests that, if angry, even the most rational, calm and serene person might resort to violence. With fists, there are usually only temporary, relatively minor injuries received, and even that is often two-way. A few months later it's of little consequence.
With a gun, you get angry, you flex a few small muscles, and your target dies. They pay the ultimate price and you get to have killed someone for very little reason, and are left with the associated baggage for the rest of your life. Seems a bit extreme to me and might explain why I'm a bit nervous about anyone other than me being allowed to have one.
Anyway, it's guns for show, knives for a pro.
Bit of a tangent there. Excuse me.
Realistic weapons go in and out of fashion like big stupid sunglasses, and have done since I was a sprog. As children we love it and I expect my own son will too. As a growed-up though, I'm all suspicious of such desires and will no doubt explain how we had it hard when we were his age and had to whittle our own Kalashnikovs out of chicken bones and use dried horse droppings as grenades.
Actually, we really did do that last bit, but only because they made great grenades.
What about this then:
A local supermarket was selling it and I took a closer look. It's a stealth kit with night-goggles, compass and camo paint. For children. The picture of the kid on the front of the box freaked me out a bit:
He looks quietly confident, and his cold, cold eye gives him a terrifyingly competent air, as though he would think nothing of sliding up behind you unnoticed, maybe appearing out of a wall of mud, producing a matt-black stilletto and silently dispatching you with emotionless efficiency before having a jam toastie.
If I were the parents of the child who had modelled that, I don't think I'd be very comfortable around him now. Imagine trying to relax in the garden and suspecting that, just feet away, your little cherub could be fully camo'd up and watching you like a hungry jaguar. It'd be unnerving.
Does it glamorise joining the army, and if so, is that a bad thing?
When I was young(er), joining the armed forces was something we all considered, because it meant learning a trade, getting ski lessons and having sexual relations with adventurous ladies of questionable virtue.
These days, you actually go to war.
What's the world coming to?
Still, the toy in question here is no more offensive, I suppose, than having a realistic cowboy hat, or an exact replica police uniform, items that have been around for decades and resulted in no more than the usual amount of psychopathic cowboys and coppers on our streets.
Occasionally, you see a toy that causes your eyebrows to rise slightly, like the one mentioned above. Other times, you see a toy that makes them scuttle back over your head and nest at the nape of your neck like eloping ferrets:It's a winking lady with a cat's head dressed in bondage gear.
Bask in the glory of the winking lady with a cat's head dressed in bondage gear. It's not every day you see a winking lady with a cat's head dressed in bondage gear.
Did I mention that the winking lady with a cat's head dressed in bondage gear squeaks?
Well she does.
The fact that this is a dog toy makes it even worse.
I haven't decided yet.