WHEN I was undergoing the six-year process of changing from a boy into technically and legally a man, I owned a Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer.
It was not by current standards a powerful computer. It was not even by the standards of the time a powerful computer. It was the computer equivalent of me. But it was relatively cheap and easy to program and had so many games. Again, the computer equivalent of me.
Yes, it took eight minutes to load one of those games – and often the loading process would fail – but that was OK. I was 13, what else did I have to do but wait? Teenagers are famously patient.
But I was loyal to that computer. In those days, among my peers, there was a divide. On my side, Spectrum kids, on the other Commodore 64 divs. I suspect they did not refer to themselves in such terms, but that is because they were divs because they had Commodore 64s.
Yes, there were other computers available, like the BBC Micro, but they were for rich children whose parents could afford to spend £399 on a computer just because it had a nice keyboard.
Games for my computer were not always available for the Commodore 64, and vice versa. Normally, this was fine, because, ugh, who wants to play a Commodore 64 game?
But occasionally a game would appear on the Commodore 64 that I actually wanted to play. I would hear the Commobores in my class excitedly chatting about their game about llamas or Ghostbusters, and ache to join in. But I had made my choice. It was not to be.
I grew up – more accurately, older – and such emotions of frustration and exclusion were relegated to the 1980s, along with Black Watch check trousers, trimphones, and cartoons on BBC2.
But now it’s back. Because virtually everybody I know is watching Game Of Thrones, and I am not because I don’t have Posh Telly.
Actually, I do have Posh Telly, but I have the wrong sort of Posh Telly. There are three main types of Posh Telly – I won’t list them here because this is not an advertisement – and I have picked one of the ones which doesn’t have the Bosoms And Dragons programme.
Usually when I tell people this, they explain to me that I can very easily sign up to a package which will give me access to Swords And Nudity. And I have to tell them that I am not in a position to do that.
This time I am not sticking with my own type of Posh Telly out of loyalty, but because I can’t afford to have three types of Posh Telly. I have to draw the line somewhere. If I shelled out eight quid a month just to watch a show that only has 10 episodes a year, what would happen if a show I like appears on the remaining type of Posh Telly?
I’d have to pay for that too, and in the end I would be paying more per month to watch programmes that aren’t even on than I would be paying for food.
This logistical situation means that I have now effectively become a keen viewer of a television programme I do not watch.
I understand all the references. I know what the Red Wedding is. I know who John Snow is. In fact, when I hear somebody say the name “John Snow” I do not automatically assume they mean the Channel 4 News man.
I understand the joke when people say “Hodor”. I know what both Robson AND Jerome are doing these days. I am incredibly angry that Ed Sheeran was in the latest episode.
I feel like I did whenever I visited my late mother and she would tell me the ins and outs of the lives of people I had never met: utterly confused and yet fully briefed to A Level standard.
But this stuff is taking up too much valuable real estate in my brain considering I have never seen a second of the show, and I wonder which important information is being crowded out whenever I recognise the Iron Throne in a picture.
However, I am not going to let it bother me. And that is the proof that I have now grown into an actual man.
Mind you, I bet if I had been a Commodore 64 owner I’d still be whinging. They are the worst.