Somebody reconnected with me on Facebook this week, and it brought to mind a couple of amusing anecdotes from childhood involving them – from either end of the compulsory educational spectrum, and both involving the person in question being the butt of a bit of a (mostly harmless) prank. I’m sure that outside of these two isolated moments we as friends were a lot kinder, but recollecting them made me smile.
The first story happened towards the end of Primary School. We were on a school trip to Whitby, staying in a large hotel (called the Morningside Hotel if memory serves). They were serving us breakfast and one of my friends kept asking for more rounds of toast and presenting them to the unfortunate lad, before ordering additional racks of toast – leaving the poor victim surrounded by racks and racks of toast. Deeply childish, yet still oddly amusing.
Fast-forward now right through to – I think – the fourth or most-likely fifth year of secondary school. Now, this might seem alien, but our school had only just set up a network of computers in a computer lab. They were Acorn Archimedes – a step up from the BBC Micros that we had formerly learned on. They had what seemed like the amazing 3D game ‘Lander‘ for a start (which I could never achieve and successful landing on!!).
Anyway, I digress – basically, this was our first real exposure to the concept of computers being connected to one another – it seems like an odd situation to be in given the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and home networks which I imagine kids are aware of the basics of from an early age now. Anyway, demonstrating what I suppose was the formative moments of my ongoing fascination with computers and networks, a friend and I were exploring.
Working through the innards of the systems – not really listening to the teacher – eventually we hit the jackpot we were seeking. I’m not sure how, as hadn’t experienced MSN or ICQ or any kind of computer-based ‘chat’ – but we found the pop-up messenger type application, and managed to decode the naming convention of all the computers on the network. I can’t remember whose idea it was, I’m going to say it was my friend’s, but it still makes me chuckle to think of it.
I don’t think through any long term vendetta, just by chance, it was the same lad who ended up with the toast who was our ‘victim’. He was sensibly working on what he should have been doing (which might well have been the reason for the selection – he was concentrating and not messing around). We selected his computer ID and typed a message – it wasn’t particularly complex or well thought-out – and for some reason, part of it had a Mexican lilt suggested in it.
His computer beeped, and on the screen a box appeared saying “Hello Meester <Surname>” – I can remember the probably exaggerated-in-my-memory pause and look of confusion, then the hastily discussed plans back at our workstation that we should continue the pretence the computer itself was trying to engage him in conversation. Unfortunately the fact that the chap in question wasn’t daft, and that my friend and I were convulsing with laughter at what we thought to be an ingenious prank cut our fledgling plans short.
Ah, memories. I wonder what children do these days to fuel that spirit of discovery – or do they just abuse each other on Facebook?