UP until now I have always felt in tune with the younger generation, even if I haven't always cared for the tunes they tune into. I suppose this is because in my own youth I tried most things, apart from train-spotting and LSD.
This very catholic upbringing has left me able to understand my children's taste in most TV programmes, whether it be Daft Action Series, Daft Soaps or those studio-based yatter-yatter shows in which everyone cheers very loudly for no good reason. I've even been able to work out how Power Rangers managed to appeal across the gender divide with my daughters watching for the series' six hunky soap stars and Tom waiting eagerly for the moment when they would transform into brightly coloured ninjas who kicked each other a lot.
But what I cannot understand is Pokemon, the cheapo cartoon series that is now everywhere. You can find it on playing cards, on bubblegum, on TV and on Gameboys.
There's even a Pokemovie which opens tonight in London. Soon, in cinemas across the land, boys like Tom will be heard discussig whether Hitmonchan's Comet Punch Attack could beat Snorlax's Hyper Beam or whether Jigglypuff is more effective in his evolved form Wigglytuff.
Yes, it means nothing to me either, but the average Pokemon fan is a hoarder of such information. He knows every specification of a Blastoise or Diglett and he avidly follows the adventures of Ash, the would-be Pokemon master who weekly pits his skills against other trainees by releasing up to 150 different creatures from the tennis balls in which they are kept.
My girls love Pokemon too, especially the sweet little squeaky ones with electric tails and names like Pikachu and Charmander. But Tom is the real Pokenerd, endlessly debating attack techniques with his friends, assessing the merits of Water Stones vs Thunder Stones or comparing the relative strengths of Grass Element Pokemons with the Psychic Pokemon. It is like listening to a
train-spotter who has taken some very powerful halucinogen. In fact, maybe this is my problem. My youth did not prepare me for geeks on speed.