Given the effort my mum went to for my grandad’s 78th a few years back, it came as no surprise that his gangster-themed 80th was a typically understated affair.

Decidedly more surprising was the bizarre, midnight train journey I endured to get there. Upon leaving Glasgow, a middle-aged woman claimed me as her boyfriend, resulting in a lipstick mark on my cheek, and a whirlwind romance which – alas – was doomed to end at Croy.

On arrival in Dundee at 00:40, I foolishly did the polite thing and offered the sole present taxi to a woman who was struggling with her suitcase and didn’t seem entirely familiar with the city. It was only when the shutters came down behind me that I realised the station was closing for the night and my chivalry had just cost me the last taxi of the evening. Begrudgingly making my way to the Overgate instead, I then joined a queue of some 20-odd people, figuring that I could beat the post-club rush and easily snag one of the Friday night taxis. An hour and a half later, at a rate of approximately one taxi every 20 minutes, my sole distraction from the onset of hypothermia were the police brawls happening all around me. Oh, Dundee. When I finally got in a cab, my driver then had the gall to complain to me that there are too many taxis in Dundee, which is a little ironic since it was two a.m. by the time I got to my mum’s. I guess that’s what I get for booking the cheapest train imaginable.

The next morning, I helped mum decorate while she got into full flapper regalia. She does not do things by halves.

My Auntie Babs joining suit.

My brother and I were a little more understated, though it should be noted that my mum had accidentally sent me a flapper dress alongside my birthday present back in March. I sent her this back by way of a thank you:

To be clear, my real present was a computer game – those drawers are just the inside of our coffee table. Like, there was absolutely no relation. Further irony: she sent this alongside a birthday card mocking my descent into old age…which she forgot to write in. Apparently I have early-onset Alzheimer’s to look forward to it in my future.

Man of the hour!

CSI: Dundee

Keith and I taking our criminology very seriously.

With my cousin Vicki and a more recent addition to the family.

Humphrey was, of course, suitably attired for the occasion.

Grandad and all four of his daughters – a somewhat rare occasion given that my aunt on the second right there lives in Australia.

Keep the change, ya filthy animal.

This is how my brother and I entertain ourselves at family functions. Shantay, you stay.

Mum and Joan, who hadn’t seen one another in person for about a decade.

Humphrey’s wardrobe changes got a little more elaborate as the night wore on.

…as did poor Lilly’s.

Lucy was granted a reprieve from the costumery on account of being a grand old lady.

The next day, I headed over to Kim and Colin’s, where he and I somehow lost track of time and played ten solid hours of Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW. Indeed, we were barely aware of the passage of time until Kim’s dad came to look in on us and we realised that he wasn’t, in fact, going to bed, but rather, getting up for work. Alas, while I should probably have learnt my lesson then and there, we were similarly consumed the following afternoon and I made my train back to Glasgow with barely five minutes to spare.

The game itself is an isometric dungeon crawler which brings in the characters, voice talents and absurdist humour of the source material. (Naturally I switched out to Lumpy Space Princess the minute we unlocked her.) The graphics and gameplay are a very conscious throwback to the golden era of 16-bit gaming, particularly – as was the main draw for Colin and I – in the co-op mode, which necessitates that players actually sit in a room together to complete the game. Indeed, one of the last times I remember doing just that was when I’d go to Colin’s house in high school and we’d spend our lunchtimes playing GoldenEye. You’re also given the use of an arsenal of ridiculous subweapons, including but not limited to: a kitten gun, the Cone-O’-9-Flavours, and a goblin whip which screams in terror every time you swing him towards an enemy.

There’s not a fantastic amount of depth, however, and – after the first 20 floors or so – the “loot the dungeon/find the exit” formula does start to wear a little thin. The main drawback is the difficulty curve, which is absurdly easy for the first half of the game and becomes exponentially more impossible from there on out. This problem wouldn’t be so pronounced if you were able to steadily upgrade your characters to offset the difficulty, except that the game forces you to turn over all your unspent gold each time you return to the dungeon (every 5-10 levels). This ultimately leads to a regressive cycle of not being able to collect enough gold on the more difficult levels because you’re too underpowered, leaving you less and less currency with which to buy the increasingly expensive upgrades every time you surface. The game does give you the option of replaying the earlier (easier) floors for the sole purpose of collecting treasure but – with the repetitiveness already being such a tiresome factor, it’s hard to motivate yourself to go back and do it all again.

Nevertheless, the charmingly retro stylings and frequently hilarious interjections of the characters themselves swept us along in a wave of nostalgia, as evidenced by the ten consecutive hours of our life that it consumed.

“I’m ready for you, Brad. Isn’t it obvi?”

A few weeks later (and twenty hair shades lighter), Colin and Kim were having a barbeque at their place, and so I headed through to Dundee once again, quietly bemoaning the fact that ScotRail doesn’t have the equivalent of a frequent flyer’s programme. Never let it be said, by the way, that men can’t multitask: I didn’t have enough time to do laundry before I caught my train and so I dried my clothes in the sauna while I was at the gym.

Cats and dogs and budgies, oh my. I spent the first night at mum (and her menegarie)’s so that I could take a few family photos before Joan went back to Australia.

Photoshoot completed, I headed over to Colin and Kim’s for a prosecco-fuelled evening of barbeques and bouncy castles. The minute the guests left, however, it was Adventure Time once again: the only issue being that it took approximately as long to finish the last 15 levels as it had the first 85. Nonetheless, we eventually triumphed with fully five minutes to spare before I had to leave to catch my train: which, granted, is still an improvement over the last time when I left with five minutes to go until the train departed. Bonus positivity: I then got a lovely conductor in Dundee who let me take the earlier (direct!) train to Glasgow, which saved me fully two hours of travel and a stopover in Edinburgh.

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