This morning I spotted my first Pokémon Go players – at least I assume that’s what they were. Nobody comes up this dead end road unless they live here, or are visiting, or lost. What would be the point? Yet outside my house (yes, my house – how come the little Pokémons are outside my house?) were two young persons. How did I know they were playing Pokémon Go? Well, I can’t be sure. But they were under eighty: few people along here are under the Age of Confusion, apart from certain regulars like the Tesco delivery man, the multi-drop delivery drivers and the ambulance crew. And they were standing still. Most people around here, if they are outside at all, and on foot rather than in the old banger/all-terrain vehicle, are off somewhere. Off down the shop for ciggies. Off down the shop for streaky bacon. Off down the shop for stamps. Mostly it involves the shop. Destinations are few hereabouts.
Although of course they could be off round the seafront with dog and walking-stick. Or off round the seafront with the dog and walking-stick again. Or, on rainy days, off round the seafront with dog, walking stick and anorak, the bonnet tied tight around the face, the eyes screwed up against briny spray and gale-force, salt-laden gusts.
But these two were standing still (outside my house) squinting at a smartphone, looking puzzled, poking it with pointy bits of plastic. Very suspicious! And it was what they were wearing. They looked – exactly how I imagine a brace of nerds might look. Both of them head to toe in black, with boots and chains – sub-goth and rather self-conscious, obviously sensed they were being watched. And they were lily white – I mean those two hadn’t seen the morning light in years.
I confess I have never played Pokémon. I have never played a computer game, in fact, unless you count scrabble. I am not averse to computer games – they look like fun, sort of, but also like a colossal waste of time. I suspect they are the equivalent of train-spotting or tending the allotment for the socially challenged, or a maybe what normal family-type people would refer to as a bonding experience. I suppose playing an electronic game with one’s children would be the same as Dad trying to teach us Sevens with a pack of playing cards, or making us racing cotton-reel tanks with candle-wax, spent matches and elastic bands to drive them along. Or like me watching the wrestling with Dad on a Saturday afternoon. Oops, now it’s out – yes, at eleven or twelve I quite liked to watch big men in stripy swimming trunks sweating profusely and throwing each other about. I’m not sure what Dad liked.
What I don’t understand is – and probably someone is going to explain it to me – how can these little Pokémons be simultaneously in someone’s smartphone and in the real world? And if they are in the real world, why couldn’t I see them lurking outside my front gate or hear them squeaking, chattering, chittering or whatever Pokémons do? And if I couldn’t see them, how come teenagers are getting so carried away with Go that they are getting themselves trapped in caves so that they have to be rescued? How come they fall off their skateboards and get themselves lured to remote spots in order to be mugged by evil people?
Apparently one man crashed his car into a tree, and two others fell off a cliff whilst playing. Maybe that’s what it is with lemmings. No one seems to know why lemmings suddenly throw themselves off cliffs en masse. Pursuing Pokémons, perhaps? And what about the Gadarene Swine? Possibly not inhabited by demonic spirits after all, but Pokémons.