If you come here often, you’ll note that many of my posts are, well, a bit silly. I think silliness is generally underrated. Playfulness is an important part of the human experience, even for adults–and in a world where I interact almost exclusively with other grownups (many of whom are not a bit silly) it can be easy to feel that there’s a whole undercurrent to life that other people do their level best to ignore–or perhaps they simply don’t feel it.
I, on the other hand, am a toy inventor’s daughter. Play comes naturally to me. Recently this manifested itself on a trip to see the Chinese New Year celebrations in London. Some friends and I went into town and we managed to catch a bit of lion dancing. For a refresher course in the history and symbolism of lion dancing (and the importance of lettuces therein) I refer you to my previous post on Chinese New Year.
I am so taken with lion dancing that I frequently do my own special version of it around the house, much to the consternation of my long-suffering housemate. (What I lack in technique I make up for in enthusiasm.) Every time I get to see lion dancing in person it makes me giggle with unrestrained glee, and this time was no exception.
Faced with such zeal for the joys of life and particularly lion dancing, one of my friends found a small dragon puppet and handed it to me. “Oh, no,” sighed my housemate, as I instantly worked the dragon into my joys-of-life-and-particularly-lion-dancing dance. “Dragooooooon,” I intoned happily. “Dragooooooooooon!”
Shortly after this, the dragon’s face–there’s no delicate way of putting this, I’m afraid–the dragon’s face began to fall off. Shoddy glue work back at the dragon factory. But by this time the dragon had found his voice and he wasn’t about to let a little thing like half his face flapping in the breeze stop him from having a jolly good time providing running dragon-based commentary on all the events of the afternoon.
I then discovered the marvellous power the dragon had for eating things. He ate the stop button on the bus, he ate part of my hat, he ate my housemate’s finger. Then he went for the big time: he ate the Shard, he ate part of the Tower of London, he ate Tower Bridge. “Very hungry dragon,” one of my friends observed.
“Very attention-seeking dragon, more like,” posited my housemate.
A little while later, when the dragon had done a bit of dragon-yoga, drunk part of my pint, and had a dragon facial restoration operation, I stuck him up on the mantelpiece where he’s been jauntily flying ever since.
If you’d like to see another example of silliness in action, check out this very brief program I designed in a language called Scratch: Dancing Magic Carpet Startles Squirrel.
I’ve been trying to brush up on my computer science skills lately and one of the problem sets on a course I’m taking was to design a wee program in Scratch. I’m not that fond of working in Scratch, which is a graphical computer language designed by MIT. I think it’s because I’m used to working with things that have glossaries and lots of documentation material, so if I’m trying to do something complicated, I can usually look it up. With Scratch I found the syntax difficult to understand compared to what I’m used to. Nevertheless, in an homage to the squirrel that sometimes comes and visits our window ledge, I managed to make this little piece of…let’s call it art…that has a squirrel and a magic carpet and a bowl of cheesy-poofs. Because I am frequently (oh, so frequently) a bit silly.