Thursday, March 6, 2014

Saluting The Captain


    It’s funny what you remember about your early years.

    All those characters from infant and junior school.

    Like MANDY and her RUBBER.  Why do I remember Mandy and her rubber?  Because she would never let anyone borrow it.  “You’ll wear it out,” she’d say, like somehow this was against the rules regarding rubber usage worldwide.  I remember remarking once that wearing rubbers out was both inevitable and kind of the point but Mandy never saw it that way.  That’s why we haven’t been on each other’s Christmas card list since 1973.


    Then there was PHILIP and his TALKBACK.  Why do I remember Philip and his talkback?  Because he would talk back to the teacher every morning when she called out the register.
    “John.”
    “Here.”
    “David.”
    “Here.”
    “Philip.”
    “Here. [great comedic pause]  I’m always here.”
   
    But what about Whatserface Girl?  Whose name I’ve forgotten, and about whom I can remember next to nothing?

    Whatserface Girl came and went, like Stu and Bev and Kim and all those kids who were around at one time before they disappeared.  As the years passed, at high school and Do Your A Levels school, I’d bump into some of these kids again, maybe exchange a few words, but by my early 20s, late 20s, and onset of multiple stomachs 30s, it typically took an unusually obtrusive prompt to get me summoning their spectres once again.

    So I’m walking down my local high street, some time in my stomachy 30s, and I see Whatserface Girl — and I salute her.

    I do this because she is The Captain.

    I can only presume that the reason she’s The Captain is down to the volume of black & white 50s films the TV companies insisted on screening in the 70s.  One featured an unenthusiastic conscript called Binns, and me and my friends spent the rest of the week playing out the scene where he’s peeling potatoes while a sergeant major screams at him.  As to where The Captain game came from, or what inspired it, I haven’t the faintest idea.  All I know is that nearly a quarter of a century later, all it took to make me engage in an activity so missing, presumed dead that I might as well have been a knee-jerk zombie was for Whatserface Girl to have her Whatser of a face in my face.

    It’s ludicrous, silly, ridiculous, but like 1920s Railway Station moments, this kind of thing happens all the time — and we’re lucky if we can match the stimulus to the response.

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