Image: Brijesh Patel
January 06 2011
I suppose that one of the side-effects of growing old is that I am less inclined to be different for the sake of it, but it is something that I am only learning how to do gradually. For instance, when a friend tried to interest me in a conversation about Mad Men, I told them that I never watched it. When asked why, I gave the answer, “Because everyone else does.” And I was being only slightly facetious. Silly isn’t it?
I have found that whatever group I join, I tend to move to its periphery. When I was growing up, this found its expression in eccentric behaviour such as watching The Borgias on TV rather than Brideshead Revisited. The Borgias, by the way, was deplorable tosh, although by today’s reality TV show standards it might seem ineffably highbrow. By contrast, Brideshead Revisited had a profound impact on popular culture, offering lingering scenes of tweed-wearing, floppy hairdos galore and a cast of showbiz aristocracy that it would be tough to assemble on the telly these days.
I was reminded of my televisual wrong turn while watching my younger son play Assassin’s Creed, Volume III, in which, as far as I can tell, Lucrezia Borgia seems to play an important role. Lucrezia was a Renaissance riposte to Zsa Zsa Gabor and might have inspired Zsa Zsa’s maxim, “I believe in large families: every woman should have at least three husbands”, marrying as she did the Lord of Pesaro and the Dukes of Bisceglie and Ferrara.
It was of course the Borgia connection that made Assassin’s Creed the perfect Christmas gift, given that Lucrezia’s dad was Pope Alexander VI, a man who became a byword for the corrupt and depraved character of the papacy at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. It even seems that there was a Borgia Saint called Francis who, according to one of my favourite websites, saints.sqpn.com (which describes itself as “Notes about your extended family in heaven”… and no, I am not making this up), is jolly handy when it comes to preventing earthquakes.
Anyway, as well as being supremely educational, Assassin’s Creed does offer some Pyrrhic vindication of my TV tastes of three decades ago. But I would hazard a wild guess that I am probably one of a very small group of people linking a Playstation game with a much-derided BBC-Italian co-produced costume drama of some 30 years ago, much less actually deriving satisfaction from the link.
It had me questioning whether it is worth spoiling my experience of the present only to be able to prove myself sort of right a generation later. So accordingly I have crossed a Rubicon and learned to love the iPad. Having held out against Mr Jobs’s plan to dominate the world through Apple technology on the grounds that everyone else likes it, I was given one of these devices for Christmas. It is a super toy, enabling me to watch YouTube footage of a sneezing panda anywhere in the house, while managing my playlists and arranging my photographs. When I get the hang of it I will probably be able to download some past episodes of The Borgias.