Simon Page

SIMON PAGE rediscovers his love of the Internet, after a visit to the tip.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that the all-time greatest console gaming experience is Super Smash Bros. on the N64. This isn’t an opinion. This isn’t up for discussion. This is a fact.

I could happily fill this column singing the praises of this excellent game. In fact, I could fill the whole Ancient Library of Alexandria with manuscripts outlining the perfection of every element of this masterpiece. But I’m not going to. Or rather, my editor won’t let me.

Anyway, for those of you who haven’t played: it’s kind of a cross between Mortal Combat and chess. Except, it’s played with Nintendo characters wielding baseball bats and land mines, within the confines of an arena containing more bright colours and flashing lights than if Wassily Kandinsky hosted Top of the Pops from a fairground inside the Tardis. Genius.

The other day, my friend Alex and I really wanted to play a few games of Super Smash Bros. but we didn’t have a TV. Actually, we did have a TV, but our ladyfriends wanted to use it to watch X Factor, or Strictly, or some other tosh.

Anyway, we figured that given the current ubiquity of flat-screen televisions, loads of people are chucking out their old giant-screen ones at the tip.

Ah, the tip. I love tips. And Cambridge City Tip is a cracker. It’s a giant, user-friendly, well-organised tip with lots of dust and sweaty men in vests. Upon arriving, Alex and I headed over to a mountain of TVs and, after a spot of browsing, happened upon a suitable looking machine.

“You can’t take ‘em home.”

The voice belonged to a burly man in a fluorescent jacket who evidently worked there.

“Oh really?” I said, “Why not?”

“They’re not electrically safe. We’d be liable.”

“What?” I said, “Seriously? Look, we’re not going to get electrocuted.”

“And even if we did, we wouldn’t sue you,” Alex added helpfully.

“Nah, sorry. No can do.”

I was furious.

Not with the burly man, even though he was being about as helpful as the Hermes Webmail interface (seriously, expunge?) He was just doing his job. No, I was furious with the horrible, conniving, out-for-all-he-can-get swine who would sue Cambridge City Council because he’d stuck his fingers into a toaster he’d picked up at the dump.

Anyway, on the drive back, Alex checked on his phone, searched for TVs, called a seller, and 10 minutes and £4.00 later we were heading back home for a serious Smash Bros. session.

A happy ending. But, all of this got me thinking:

Firstly: it’s really sad that we can’t pick up free stuff from the tip nowadays. I mean, if people want to get rid of stuff and others want to get hold of it, the tip should be a place of romance where disposers and disposees can meet up. It’s much better than their stuff going to landfill, or being broken up for parts, or whatever. When I was young, my Dad used to take my brother and me to the tip just to look around for neat stuff – computer parts, guitars, anything. My point is that anyone who tries to file a lawsuit against the tip because some junk they got (for FREE) wasn’t electrically sound should be shot mercilessly.

Secondly, how great is the Internet?! We wanted a TV. Just 10 minutes with an iPhone and we were cracking open a beer to the (excellent) opening credits of the greatest console game on earth. The Internet is informative, quick, and easily accessible. And I bet if you ask your mates whether China is bigger than the USA, at least half of them instinctively reach into their pockets for their phones.

In fact, if information is so readily accessible on the web, it makes you wonder what the point in all of these exams is – why bother learning stuff that you can Google in less than a minute? So, to conclude, in spite of its cavalcades of nutty religious fanatics and Nigerian scammers and the colossal and terrifying mass of pornography, I love the Internet.