A Neanderthal Man in Nike boots

Alex Darcy is 46, lives in Suffolk with wife Jane, daughter Emma, 14, and son James, 10, and wonders how life got so . . . baffling

Despair of a

Neanderthal

in Nike boots

Alex Darcy is 46, lives in Suffolk with wife Jane, daughter Emma, 14, and son James, 10, and wonders how life got so . . . baffling


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WE might not have our own version of the Berlin Wall running through our home, but we are a household divided: split by preferences for games and pastimes. We all quite like whiling away the dark winter evenings by pitting our wits against each other, but choice of the field of combat is down to strict age-related demarcation lines. Me, I'm a traditional kind of guy: Cluedo, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Connect 4, Take the Brain, Fastest Gun (still got the sets for those last two from when I was nine and 10), even Ker-plunk, at a push. Generally, things that require a bit of thought and don't blare repetitive music or dazzle with flashing lights.

Of course, I don't just like these traditional games because I usually wallop the kids when we play. Experience, it must be said, is everything, teaching you how to adopt the right strategy, when to gamble and when to play it safe.

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Recently, though, the cardboard boxes have been gathering dust on the shelves, for James has managed to hook up our PlayStation console - the one a kind friend gave us for nothing earlier this year - to the kitchen TV. So now we have football games morning, noon and night - or he would if we let him - and I suffer daily humiliations. For in this baffling electronic world of moving images and sense-destroying noise, I'm like Samson with a short-back-and-sides.

James does rather gabble and run vowels and consonants together, so I'm not sure what the game is. “Pruvelushnsuker”, apparently. It could be ProEvolution Soccer. Doesn't matter what it's called, because I know how to describe my performance: hopeless. If this is evolution, I'm Neanderthal man - in Nike boots.

While James's wizards are running rings around my hapless team, I'm grappling with the “Playschool” handset and trying to remember which button passes the ball: the one with a triangle on it, or the circle, or is it the cross? While I'm all fingers and thumbs, he's notched a hat-trick.

I did think that maybe he was always hogging the best team - invariably Manchester United - and that the software was pre-programmed in their favour. So one day I chose Brazil, assuming the samba squad would be pretty nifty. But something was obviously amiss - perhaps I'd dropped biscuit crumbs down the crack by my joystick - and the defenders simply bashed the ball out of play instead of passing upfield. Worse, they showed no remorse. You can understand why real managers throw teacups on occasion.

I must be getting better, though, for the other day my team actually scored first and I went on an exultant lap of honour around the kitchen, being booked by Jane for pulling my shirt over my head (and crashing into the vegetable rack). A put-off James giggled uncontrollably for the rest of the match and could only draw. If Ipswich Town can finally sneak a win after 13 attempts, I just know my day of triumph isn't far away.

Actually, I'm going to buy a new Scrabble set as a family present this Christmas, and we'll all have to play. Order will be restored (and that's 27 points with a triple-word score).

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