Sunday, 26 July 2015

Boy toy

The other day I posted on Facebook a plea for the loan of a chainsaw so I could take down a couple of trees in the back garden in preparation for the installation of a new fence. Any offers? Of course not.
There may have been a number of reasons for this failure including a very small number of FB friends, the generally limited quantity of people who actually own such a thing, and people's reluctance to lend out something that could easily dismember an operator who was anything less than cautious.
The other possibility is that even if everyone who read the post had a chainsaw in their shed, I still wouldn't have been offered one because ever since we were little kids we have never wanted others to play with our toys.

I've heard it said many times, "Men never grow up, they just get more expensive toys", and frankly there's a lot of truth in that. In about 1977 I had an Evil Knievel stunt cycle toy which was my pride and joy, and led on to a succession of two-wheeled toys from a Yamaha YB100, through a TZR250, an FZR1000, and a Suzuki Bandit 1200 with many more in between. I still look through the bike manufacturers ranges and now spend the odd period fantasising about the Ducati 899 Panigale.
As a kid it always seemed that as boys we had far better toys than the girls. Action Man would charge around in a Jeep with a machine gun blowing up the bad guys while his eagle eyes searched out his next victim, while brain-dead Barbie just sat around preening herself.
Big Trak was a vehicle that you could program to carry out a series of manouvres using the keypad on the back, whereas 'My Little Pony' did fuck all.
When the Rubik's Snake came out it wasn't long before we realised it could be made into a gun shape, which was a step up from using a stick for a gun to play 'army' with. In the meantime I have no idea what the girls were doing - probably tutting about the boys being immature, running around like idiots making machine gun noises. Obviously they were far more grown up, wrapping a length of string around their fingers and calling it a 'cat's cradle'. Cap guns were an option, but mostly they were cheap crappy things that broke within five minutes. Besides, we'd normally use up the caps trying to blow something up which was far more exciting.
While the girls spent time playing hopscotch and singing silly songs while skipping, we were making ramps to jump on our bikes, and sliding down the banks of a dried-up reservoir on a large flattened cardboard box that we'd liberated from a skip on the industrial estate.


 Barbie and My Little Pony had
nothing on Scalextric and Big Trak


Looking back, most toys and games enjoyed by us as boys involved some form of death, destruction, and risk taking. Move on to adulthood and nothing much has changed. As blokes we still hanker after cars, motorbikes, radio controlled helicopters and big TVs, and it's always a nuisance when we're forced to relocate funds that really should be spent on a shiny new iPad to the purchase of something rather more dreary like a washing maching.
It strikes me, looking at the picture above, that some women are also unable to leave behind certain things from their childhood, with Barbie being a prime example. It's a subject for a future post because I suspect I can extract a fair bit of mileage out of it, but the women that dedicate their adult lives to trying their hardest to look like Barbie are to me a thing of great hilarity.

It's hard to get into the whole grown-up toys thing without sounding rather sexist, but the fact is that a bloke is more likely to get excited about a new power drill than he is about a Dyson vacuum cleaner, and vice-versa.
Even the wife admitted yesterday that men always have the best toys, once I'd ripped through the unwanted plantlife with the newly acquired chainsaw and set about cleaning up the water butt with the pressure washer. My shed is full of tools, homebrew equipment, assorted bicycles and a very slowly evolving model railway, whereas hers contains a collection of gardening implements and an assortment of spiders.
The clearing of the garden borders in readiness for the new fence is a break from the normal, because it involves the sort of money I would normally never consider spending on something that doesn't have either a plug or an engine. Unfortunately circumstances dictate that such a thing is necessary, so regardless of how bitter the pill, I have no choice but to swallow it.
On the plus side, my toy box now contains a chainsaw, which I can line up with the axe and the machete in the section marked 'Zombie Apocalypse'.