Sometimes things pass us by unnoticed. We miss good films, not having seen the ads and reviews, we didn't hear that a band was playing locally, no-one told me there was a theatre festival, damn it, and so on. We miss other things to. We tend not to identify certain traits in people who are our friends, even close ones. We can be blind to their being depressed, or physically unwell, or morally reprehensible. This blog covers two meanings of salient matters failing to come to my attention.
It starts with lemmings. I was in Walmart-lackey store ASDA recently, and my girlfriend saw a copy of old the PC game Lemmings. She was a fan of it, and bought it. Sure, 'twas only a couple of pounds. In my youth's heyday I had missed the Lemmings phenomenon, not having had access to a PC, so it was a pleasant surprise to have the opportunity at last. But - and this is the important part - when I was young, one of my friends did have the game.
We installed it, opened it, started playing it. My girlfiend knew how, I didn't. Out came the lemmings through an opening in the top of the screen, streaming onto a two-dimensional landscape and marching to their doom like mindless automata. So far so good. Until my girlfriend started explaining what the on-screen icons were for. 'This one makes them dig holes,' she pointed, 'And this one builds bridges, and this one makes them climb.' I furrowed my brow. 'Hang on,' I mused, puzzled now but slowly moving towards an understanding of the truth, 'You mean the point of the game isn't to kill the lemmings?' For so I had been led to believe.
His name was Richard. He had Lemmings. He loved Lemmings. He spoke of it frequently, how he enjoyed condemning them, how he fed off the lemming genocide. He might be puffing on a cigarette, and would take a drag and exhale slowly before finishing. 'Little fuckers.' Other times I'd call him and he'd be playing it, cackling hysterically as he reported burning lemmings, crushed lemmings, drowing lemmings. Naturally, I assumed the purpose of the game was to commit these atrocities, that it was some kind of black comedy, whereas in fact the cuddlesome little game was being perverted by a monster whose madness took me a decade to detect. Where is he now? In charge of an army, giggling as he sends his troops over the edge of a precipice? A traffic warden, chuckling as he encourages small children to skip out in front of buses? The editor of the Daily Mail? He must be stopped.