When We Ditched Peter Rabbit For a Pokémon

I had an idea of what I wanted my children to be like before they were born. Cheeky without being naughty, intelligent but not precocious, individual without being weird. And of course, without a hint of paternal partisanship, both my sons have lived up to my expectations.

But now that the Major is approaching pre-school I’m worried that the vague otherworldliness that endears him to me so much will be a source of suspicion among his peers. That he’ll pitch up at the playground quoting his favourite Beatrix Potter book and eventually find himself alone and friendless in book corner.

I read once that the Prime Minister sits down every week to watch a selection of footage gathered by a team of minions. The footage provides a summary of recent happenings in popular culture like celebrity and sport news. It’s designed to prevent the Prime Minister appearing fusty and alien to the electorate, more connected with normal folk.

I wonder if I should create something similar for the Major. He starts at pre-school in September and he may need to be brought up to speed with the modern world. Minecraft and Zlatan Ibrahimović and mansplaining. Which is sort of what I’d be doing actually.

And that is why Pokémon Go seemed especially appealing. It’s sent the rest of the human race into a rabid, foaming frenzy. Even Theresa May has had to have a full day-long debrief.

The Major has had a troubled history with computer games. They seem to affect his wiring and unleash something very cross inside him. But I figured that Pokémon Go at least required some interaction with world at large and therefore marginally more wholesome.

First of all we were directed towards our local green to collect some Pokéballs, basically cutesy man-traps for catching Pokémon. I was mildly uncomfortable scrabbling around at the base of the war memorial looking for virtual sparrows, an echo of some of the more sinister side-effects of the craze.

We came across other Pokémon-hunters and there was a genuine sense of camaraderie out there. We were kindly directed towards the church hall where apparently there was a bunch of Pokeshits hanging out. And in a peculiar reversal of the traditional ‘don’t talk to strangers’ scenario, a young man leant out of his car window to advise us to head to the petrol station to capture some augmented pigeons. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more part of the community. It’s just a shame that it’s a community made up of eight-year-olds.

But that’s Pokémon Go. It’s weird. It sends people a bit loopy. Parents are naming their children after Pokémon. Avid hunters are being warned off venturing into defunct nuclear disaster zones. And Theresa May has been pictured sniffing around the Cenotaph.

So perhaps the Major isn’t so otherworldly after all.

Any good?