The Evil Landlord subscribes quite cheerfully to a number of geeky programmer stereotypes, and has most recently taken to buying himself a Lego set in celebration every time a major client project goes live. This has rebounded into my life in the form of a Lego Death Star sitting in the living room for a couple of days (Lego Luke! too cute!), and the Prince of Persia set, deconstructed, set temptingly down on the dining room table.
I never played with Lego as a kid. When I was a child the country I lived in was Rhodesia, which was under UN sanctions on account of its bloody-minded self-determination and general "up yours" to the British Empire. This meant that, even if my parents hadn't been relatively impecunious government researchers, fancy toys simply weren't readily available. I played with Fisher Price and Barbies in the homes of school friends whose parents were wealthy enough to go on South African holidays and spend money on toys. (I hasten to add that I don't feel deprived in the least; I had a wonderful childhood in all the right ways, full of books and animals and huge gardens and imagination and a protected experience of the bush). Lego, however, was a "boy" thing and I and my sister were very girly girls, so at best, my experience of Lego was a few blocks at random and in passing from the brothers of friends. The first time I ever sat down with a full Lego set and constructed it by the book from the ground up was last weekend.
I never quite understood the geek fondness for Lego, but the whole thing has fallen into place with the inevitable, satistfying "click" of a Lego brick mating with the correct fellow. I completely get it now. There is an enormously Zen and calming pleasure in the process: the shapes fit together so cunningly, the logic is so inexorable, the sense of participating in the creation of harmonious structure is so satisfying. It's been a completely bloody week, and I've been exhausted and stressed to a perfectly ridiculous extent. Staggering home at 7pm to sit down for half an hour to fit blocks together has been absurdly healing. Even with the Evil Landlord wandering into the kitchen every now and then to make derogatory remarks to the cats about having a seven-year-old in the house.
There are two and a half sections of the Prince of Persia palace completed. I look forward to the rest with great pleasure. I am developing almost instantaneous Lego snobberies (the giant prefabricated plastic shapes are cheating! blocks or nothing!) and am fiendishly plotting to give the Evil Landlord Lego sets for Christmas and birthdays for the forseeable future. It got me. I'm a convert. It may just keep me sane.