Chess and Melrose

Welcome to the junk room. I’m one can of cider down, and have just closed the web browser in order to remove distractions. It’s just me, Scrivener, and the light from an angle-poise lamp standing guard on the corner of the desk.

I played chess today.

I haven’t played chess in a very long time. I suppose if I was going to more accurately describe my antics, I would say that I pushed some pieces around a board, and pretended that I used to know what I was doing. Let’s hope my co-worker never visits this room and looks on the shelf behind me. I’m not worried about the manga books, or questionable 1990s DVD box sets – it’s more the chess books I’m worried about.

I used to be quite good at chess. I studied it – read books about it – impressed people at dinner parties (or rather annoyed them, if the chess set belonged to them). I remember playing a friend in the early hours of the morning while both drunk, and losing a piece early on. He remarked afterward that my entire demeanor changed in that moment – apparently I shut out all conversation, and started frowning really rather a lot. He tipped his king over a few minutes later, and we both laughed.

In some ways I look back at chess a little wistfully. It’s the only board game I’ve ever been remotely good at, and yet I pretty-much discovered my limits. Without a lot more talent, or a lot more hard work, there was no way I was going to get any better at it.

The DVD box sets are probably far more interesting to most people. Let’s see – what do we have ? Three seasons of Melrose Place, the box set of the cartoon series Dungeons and Dragons, the first several seasons of Full Metal Alchemist, and a pretty much full set of Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex (amazing Anime series). Of course there are some more normal titles up there – Clerks, Firefly, Hackers, Akira, and most of the Studio Ghibli movies. I suppose within another few years DVDs will be completely and utterly obsolete, and I’ll either end up ripping them, or selling them all.

(half an hour passes)

Of course curiosity has got the better of me – Melrose Place is now playing on the corner of the desk on the old laptop. It’s like a slippery slope through time back to the early 1990s. It’s funny looking back – when I watched the show the first time around, I would have been younger than the characters – putting them on pedestals, and hoping to have a life like them one day. Of course now the roles are reversed, and the characters seem somehow laughable – chasing unrealistic dreams, and obsessing over unimportant problems.

Something else just occurred to me too – Melrose Place pre-dates mobile phones and the internet by a couple of years. A part of me envies that world – where people called each other, or met up with one another to catch up. Of course everybody’s circle was much smaller, but I think perhaps we knew each other better – certainly more than now, when so many hide behind carefully constructed online personas.

Maybe I’m recalling the past through rose tinted glasses. It wouldn’t be the first time.

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