I Spy, with my little eye… (Daddy, what does puke start with?)

26 01 2012

So believe it or not, I used to be even more juvenile than I am today. I think it goes in cycles. A bit like the Tour de France. I had a T-shirt that had, in large letters, “Growing Old is Inevitable, Growing Up is Optional”. I just never took the option, I guess. Of course, over the years I’ve had many other T-shirts. One of my favourites was one that had, in 4 point text (which for the non-printing professionals amongst you, is VERY small), the words “Nosy bastard, aren’t you?” The joke of course being that you couldn’t read it without getting up close.

But once upon a time (a time still measured by sand, when there were still arguments about how many months a calendar should have, and why month 10 should be Oct. (8) and month 11 called Nov.(9)*) I did used to have an excuse. I really was young back then – in body instead of just spirit. Spirits, I have found, do become more mellow with ageing… especially in oak. I tried it, but got splinters in an unfortunate place, so gave that up as a bad job. In those days I was precocious. OK, I realise that this too has remained with me, but stay with me, dear reader, for we’ve not even got close yet to the theme of the post tonight. In fact I’ve almost forgotten what the point was. Ah yes – car games.


Yes – car games. Those inane attempts that parents make to entertain their kids on long road trips, so that they don’t throw up all over the upholstery. Back in the 70’s there was quite an industry growing up in the UK around the old favourite “I-Spy“. In its basic form, this went “I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with <letter>”. The other players would then attempt to identify what you’d seen that began with that letter until one of the following occured:

i) the item was correctly guessed – almost never happened

ii) it became apparent that player one couldn’t spell and nothing visible in the human optical range could begin with “X C Z”

iii) player one admitted it had been passed in the car 15 miles back while the other players were blinking, and there simply hadn’t been another “Xylophone-carrying zebra” walking down the road since then.

iv) one or more of the players threw up anyway

So anyway, the concept was taken one stage further, and a series of “spotter” books was published. Each book had a theme, such as “traffic signs” or “trees”, and had a series of photographs that the owner could use to identify the various items of that theme. Points were awarded depending on the rarity of the item pictured. These were a brilliant way of entertaining pre-pubescent children on long car journeys, or boring family holidays. The concept was never extended to post-pubescent children with titles such as “bra straps” or “bikinis”, which I think was a huge missed opportunity, personally. The books were published by the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, and there was a tie-in to the paper with simple codes to crack (a bit easier than the cryptic crossword that the adults had). Once you spotted enough items to get 1000 points, you could send off to “Big Chief I-Spy” and get a certificate. Coo!

I-Spy: Cars

I-Spy: Cars

The books were briefly out of print, but Michelin are now publishing them again, and a good thing too! Now if only they would consider the I-Spy book of lingerie, it’d be a winner!

* For the smart arses in the readership: “Yes, I know – blame the Roman Emperors Jul. and Aug.”




7 responses

26 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

What’s the Dylan line? “I was older than that then, I’m so much younger now.”

Favourite T-shirt ever worn by Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons:


27 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

Thanks – hadn’t seen Comic Book Guy’s T-Shirt. Must track one down!

Waters in Pink Floyd’s Final Cut:
I was just a child then; Now I’m only a man

27 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

“One only becomes a man when one rediscovers the earnestness one had as a child at play.”–Nietzsche.

27 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

I think he might have said something about earnestness in “work”, can’t recall.

27 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

Monty Python taught me everything I know about philosophy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1MgCV6uGuc

I drink , therefore I am!

27 01 2012

We used to play “Who am I” and the classic “Don’t touch my side of the car”. The latter was much enjoyed by my father on long roadtrips 😉

27 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

“Who am I?” is a game?! I ask that question most mornings!!

Of course, back then, a long road trip was about 45 minutes. Now, in Canada, it can be 3 weeks.

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