Sitting, waiting, there was a hint of warmth in the February sun and birdsong was audible.
The view did not match the vernal cheer: a high wooden planked fence, greyed with age and holed in places; a scrubby hedgerow unrecovered from autumn slashing; a verge of weeds and briars; a solitary metal lamp post bearing faded yellow stickers. Not the stuff to inspire.
Games always help to pass the time. A car passed, braking as it approached a junction.
“I spy with my little eye something beginning with R. L.”
(Local rules for I-Spy allow the use of two words when there is a lack of variety in the scenery).
“Correct. My turn.”
“I spy with my little eye something beginning with L. P.”
A shorter pause.
One person games of I-Spy can become boring, I always guess what I have chosen. Sometimes, for dramatic effect, I’ll give the wrong answer, or explore other options I might have chosen for the letter I have given myself.
There are other games I could have played. I could have flipped a coin to count sequences of heads and tails. I could have watched to see what cars pass and to see how many words I could make from the make of car that had passed. (Volkswagen is good for such a game, Saab is not good, and BMW is rubbish).
Such games recall times sitting in my father’s car while he had called in to see someone “just for a minute,” or when my parents had gone into a warehouse for the weekly shopping (for years, they shopped at a warehouse called Norman’s, which seemed to be a cash and carry open to the public).
Oddly, in this third decade of the Twenty-First Century, what did not occur to me was to use my iPhone to browse the web, or message friends, or to play games. Instead there was a reversion to being the child who devised strategies for passing times of waiting.
Perhaps the attitude derived from spending many hours on my own in the pre-electronic age. Sometimes I would play chess against myself. A couple of times, I even played Monopoly, being the car and the top hat and the boot, but didn’t manage to win as any of them.
The constant dependence on the smartphone is reducing the capacity for imagination among most younger people. Left alone without a phone, they have no idea as to how they might cope with boredom. They shall never know how bizarre it is to play games against themselves.