There he is.
My two abiding memories of Where’s Wally are frustration and the cartoon series, which had a certain coolness to it, despite being boring, and contained the ridiculous notion that Wally would speak with an American accent.
Apart from the annoying tourist vibe, surely he’s about as British as you can be (for the record, our tourists are drunk and loutish, not just annoying).
I remember the last page of the last book. The one where everyone was Wally, and you had to search for the Wally with one shoe missing. What upset me was that my brother had once found Wally, and shown me precisely where he was, so when I went back, in the fits of MASSIVE boredom that constitute childhood when there’s too big a gap between you and your nearest sibling (basically, if they hit puberty more than a year or two before you, you have no chance…possibly this is unique to me and mine, obv), I knew roughly which area to look.
And I could still, never, ever find that fucking shoeless Wally.
It always struck me as odd that the American’s called it Wally. Wally is what people on children’s TV in the eighties called dickheads. Waldo sounds a bit like dildo.
My heart and soul isn’t in this. There is, for me, an impenetrable ennui surrounding Wally.
I kinda loved those books. The huge strange, vastly detailed works. The tiny little puns and jokes and slapstick scenes arrayed across huge spreads of paper. They showed you a vast complicated world. They were beautiful cartoons, heaving with humour and ridiculousness.
And instead of enjoying the world, you had to spend all your time searching for these fucking tourists.
I’m a fan of games. I love board games and computer games. But Wally was the one example where I felt something I could’ve enjoyed was turned into a boring and monotonous task by the gamifying of it.
I couldn’t resist the objectives. I even once tried to go through the ticklist of oddments at the back of one of the books. No matter how long I delved into the books, I would always fall into the trap of looking for something, and when I found it, I’d just skip to the next page and start again.
At worst, I’d just get more and more frustrated by not being able to find what I was after and give up in a storm. Shove the book back on the shelf to be forgotten about until some other huge stretch of boring weekend laid before me.
There’s perhaps something to be said about life there.
Don’t spend all your time setting objectives. If you do, you often find you won’t revel in the success enough, you’ll just find a new target to aim for. If you fail, you’ll just be unhappy about it.
Spend more time exploring the world idly. Take in the beauty and humour all around.
Don’t worry about Wally.
He’s a dickhead.
Illustration by Maria.