Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Things I Invented But Never Got Credit For

Back in 1990 I said to my mate:

'There should be a computer game which is just life. You know, you'd control a person, who's in a family, and you have to make sure they get food and a job and you have to keep an eye on a bar that goes up and down depending on how happy your person is, and another one that shows how healthy they are. That would be a cool game.'

(It was 1993 - we spoke like that back then.)

My mate replied:

'That would be rubbish. What a stupid idea.'

The result? I did nothing about it.

And now 'The Sims', in all its various forms, is the biggest selling computer game ever.

In 1992 I said to my family:

'There should be a computer games system where you don't have to press buttons, you just wear a special glove that has sensors on it, or you have a special stick with sensors on it, and the computer can tell how you're moving your hand, and it translates that into movements in whatever game you're playing.'

Everyone in my family said:

'That would be rubbish. What a stupid idea.'

I did nothing about it.

And now there's the Nintendo Wii.

In 1993 I invented a joke. Two jokes actually. You all know them. They go like this:

What's brown and sticky?
A stick.

What's blue and fluffy?
Blue fluff.

That's it. They're not works of genius. Chris Rock isn't going to be ringing me up asking me to write more gems like that for his act. BUT I DID COME UP WITH THEM.

And this week, an eleven year-old told these jokes to me. He told me an extra one as well which tagged onto the first two pretty well (and was actually funnier), but I can't remember what it was now. (If you know it please tell me what it is.)

He didn't believe me when I told him I'd invented those jokes.

Maybe you don't either. But I remember the exact spot I was sitting (Room 23 of my old school, break time) and I remember my thought process. Speaking of which...

In 1996 I was wondering why people always wrote, 'Lots of love.' (You know, at the end of those things we used back in 1996 instead of emails - erm, letters and notes and stuff.)

Anyway, why did people use that phrase? What did it mean?

What did lots of love look like? When did people decide that love was something there could be lots of, like water, and not something there could be many of, like buttons (in which case we'd say 'Lots of loves', which has a completely different meaning).

I went on with my thinking, and I asked myself - if there can be lots of love, why can't there be love of different sizes? Saying 'Lots of love' made no sense at all, I decided. It was as ridiculous as saying to someone 'Many loves', or even 'Big love'.

And so I decided, from then on, to say 'Big love' instead of 'Lots of love'.

It caught on quickly.

People I said it to started saying it back.

Within a couple of years we all had emails, and I started using 'Big Love' at the end of my emails. People I wrote to used it back.

And then I noticed something. Other people were using it. People I didn't know.

Then celebrities started using it. The first I can remember was Jamie Oliver, who signed off his email newsletter, 'Big Love'. (Don't ask how come I got to see a copy of Jamie Oliver's email newsletter - that's a long, long story involving his 'flavour shaker' contraption.)

Suddenly, 'Big Love' was everywhere.

And it was very annoying.

At first I tried to tell people that I'd come up with it. At first they didn't believe me, then they did, and they blamed me for coming up with one of the most annoying phrases in the English language.

But it didn't start off annoying. So give me creidt, but don't blame me.

I just invented it.

Jamie Oliver made it annoying.

Now please don't let him get his hands on The Sims, the Nintendo Wii, or those corking jokes about blue fluff.

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