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I dream therefore I am...

Posted by ZX KNIGHT on Jul 22, 2011 21:12 (Jul 22, 2011 21:12)

I had the dream again last night. I was in a charity shop and I found a cache of Spectrum games, all for 50p each.

At first it was just the odd game, and in that way that dreams have they were familiar yet different. I found a copies of Gauntlet and Monty Mole with unrecognisable box art, games that don't exist in the real world but in my dream were right there in my hand.

Then I noticed that there was an entire row of them, game after game lined up amongst forgotten singles by Shamen and 2 Unlimited. Classic ones, rare ones, tatty ones, mint ones, ones I'd never even heard of and ones I grew up with. There was even, bizarrely, a game from Holland called Dutch Biscuit that in my dream was an independent mid-1990s homebrew effort but in reality doesn't exist (I even checked World of Spectrum this morning). If you're interested, it looked quite like Booty.

In the dream I quickly scooped up half a dozen games and started to panic as I saw the row of cassettes stretch out before me. You see, I have an agreement with myself that I will play fairy godmother to any abandoned retro games in a charity shop – even if I don't own the system – and buy them to save them from a fate worse than mere neglect, namely being thrown into a skip behind a row of charity shops and picked over by buzzards.

The intention is that I then either keep the games or sell/pass them on to a loving owner who can give them the care and attention they need that a charity shop could not. It's a judgement call on whether or not I'll take a game when I see it. I'm not a complete retro collecting floozy. If I feel the game is ridiculously overpriced I leave it well alone, likewise if the game is so bad it deserves to be passed over by history. Of course to the uninitiated complaining about a Megadrive game being £2 in a charity shop may seem picky, but I'm sure you understand why a tatty copy James "Buster" Douglas Knockout Boxing is simply not worth £2. I'll save my money for more deserving games.

But in my dream I faced a dilemma. If I bought every cassette it would have cost me £20, could I justify that just to save some tapes from the bin? What would the wife think when I turned up with a bag full of tapes I would probably never play?

I woke up before I could resolve this dilemma or play Dutch Biscuit but dissecting the dream was pretty easy. In one form or another it is actually a variation on a recurring dream I've been having for a while now. Another form it takes is where I walk into a charity shop and find piles of old Games Workshop games like Heroquest and Space Crusade and again I face a dilemma. Is it sensible economically or matrimonially to spend a lot of money on buying them and storing them in a cupboard at home when I already have a dozen of them above the cupboard in my bedroom?

Yesterday I was chatting to a friend who is currently on the look out for a copy of Space Crusade, which prompted memories of my recurring charity shop dream. So it's not surprising that same night I had the dream again. As for Dutch Biscuit, a quick google search reveals that a Dutch Biscuit is where you fart into your cupped hand and then throw it in someone's face after pretending to shake their hand. Erm...

I can assure you this is not a practise I have ever indulged in, but I think I can explain it's presence in my dreams...if you'll just hear me out...

Have you seen the film Bruce Bigalow: European Gigalo? By rights it should be terrible but actually it's pretty funny, and a recurring joke occurs as all the European man-whores talk about their favourite sexual moves, one of which is the 'Dutch Breakfast'. Of course it's all meaningless (I think, a search on Dutch Breakfast just brought up lots of pictures of waffles) but the phrases grow more non-sensical as the film progress. I haven't seen it in months but the phrase 'Dutch Breakfast' always stuck in my mind as a funny one and for whatever reason it morphed itself into my dream as a Dutch homebrew Spectrum platformer called Dutch Breakfast.

I've also been reading through my backlog of Viz magazines and I always leave the Profanisaurus – the rude-word dictionary – until last, so I've been reading a lot of rude phrases recently and Dutch Biscuit could well have been among them. Certainly the sexual practises of our more liberal European neighbours feature quite prominent in the Profanisaurus.

See? Totally plausible.

Anyway, the theme of the dream – the dilemma over what to do if I ever found a trove of old games in a charity shop is something that genuinely does worry me.

My interest in the Megadrive was reinvigorated when I went to a car boot sale and returned home with a Megadrive II, with two pads and Aladdin and Puggsy. It cost just £2! Bargain. I have since spent far more than that buying more pads, games and accessories and now have enough stuff to fill a small cupboard.

Yet I know if I walked into a charity shop and found a Mega-CD or a 32X it would be highly unlikely that I'd walk out without purchasing it.

I could justify it as a one-off and as a nod to my childhood spent playing on the Megadrive, but what if I found an original Nintendo? Or an Amiga? I didn't play these as a child so I don't have the same link to them, but I'd still hate to think of them being thrown out. What about an Atari ST or a 3DO, other systems I spent hours on as a kid?

If I didn't buy them, they'd probably end up in a bin and the very thought irritates me. I've still not forgiven my cousin-in-law for throwing out a bin bag full of Megadrive games to make more space when he moved in with his then-girlfriend now-wife. A bin bag full of games! OK, he didn't know me at the time but even so, I still view it as an act of wanton gaming vandalism.

On the other hand there is only so much space I can commandeer for retro stuff in our house, battling as it does with the wife's clothes and shoes and the possibility of children in the years ahead.

There is no way I can comfortably resolve this issue. Even the thought of buying them cheap and part-exchanging them somewhere like Gamestation worries me. What happens to the stock in stores have no retro section to speak of? Does it get stored for their online site or chucked out?

Ultimately a resolution will only be found if and when I find myself in such a position. I don't know what I'll do but one thing I know for sure is that I won't be playing Dutch Breakfast any time soon.

ZX KNIGHT also blogs at

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#1 Sep 25, 2011 13:34:44 ( Sep 25, 2011 13:34 )
Great article, I too like to pick up retro bits when I can although the wife isn't so tolerant of it.  Sadly I don't see much retro stuff around my area these days.  I think people have got the idea that they can make some money out of retro stuff by selling it on eBay at over inflated prices.  One time which sticks in memory was at a local car boot... there was this guy selling some retro items (Mega CD, NES, some games) and I was looking at what he had for sale.  Someone came along and bought up all the retro stuff and commented that they didn't know that the Megadrive had a CD addon and that they are making a decent amount selling this stuff on eBay.

When I've bought stuff from car boot sales (Sega Saturn, a couple of Megadrives, and an Acorn Electron for 3 quid) I have taken pride in what I've bought and introduced the kids to the joys and wonder of the machines (my step daughter sat for a good couple of hours typing in programs from the manual into the Electron) and my younger daughters enjoyed playing on the Megadrive.

With regards to dreams about finding retro games in a charity shop, I keep having a similar re-occurring dream about visiting Sheffield and finding a computer shop full of old classic games from the 8-Bits (Atari XL/XE, CPC, Spectrum) to the 16-Bit machines (Amiga, ST, SNES, Megadrive and Neo Geo).  I guess it stems from visiting computer and games shops in the 80's and 90's (both locally to where I live, and in Sheffield and Doncaster when I used to visit my Grandparents).

In fact there was one computer shop in Newton Abbot (in Devon) called the Games Cupboard which I honestly thought I'd made up in my head as no one else remembered it, until I got chatting to a friend who also remembered it :-)

Ahh good memories.

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