In the year 1960, in the small town of Moffat (just bordering the Scottish Highlands), the man John "Johnnie" Aitkin is born. At the age of 18 in 1978, he enlists in the British Royal Navy, and in 1982 he sees active service in the Falklands War - a war commanded by Mrs Thatcher, who consolidates her power off the back of Johnnie's bloody and traumatizing labours. She uses her greatly renewed mandate post-1983 to gut open and drain Scotland's industrial base - and its working class - leaving him with no recognisable home to return to, a furious resentment, and a deep and abiding emotional distress.
While posted back in England - dazed and scarred and nursing his wounds - Johnnie is regularly granted shore leave. Between bouts of disaffected sex and increasingly heavy drinking, he and his friends gravitate to London's amusement arcades. They take particular enjoyment - perhaps even solace - in their obsession with the cabinet of 1982's 'Donkey Kong' - a seminal game in the career of Shigeru Miyamoto, and arguably the progenitor of the modern video-game industry. Twelve years later, in 1994, now living married and settled and (incidentally) amidst the growing hype of English developer Rareware's revival of the gaming icon in their blockbuster platformer 'Donkey Kong Country', John Aitkin awaits the birth of his first child. This child, a son. He christens him: Callum Donald Kenneth Aitkin.
Sixteen years later, in the year 2010 (the year just so happens to be the one wherein Retro Studios release 'Donkey Kong Country Returns', a reinvigoration of the flagging 'Donkey Kong' brand) Johnnie and his son take together to playing the game 'Mario Kart Wii' - and its console predecessor 'Mario Kart: Double Dash'. His son fails, at the time, to notice the way his father always and instantly chooses to pick 'Donkey Kong' as his go-karting character, whether playing casually in the games' kart racing mode, or competitively in the more hard-core time-trial mode. His son also fails to notice that, despite the man's otherwise total disinterest in his videogaming hobby, the father will linger at the living-room door when he sees his son playing the (1994-6, SNES) 'Donkey Kong Country' original trilogy. The father asks, simply, after a pause: '...Is that Donkey Kong?'.
Thirteen years later. His son, now twenty eight and living alone, has greeted the new year by contracting the flu. Sleep deprived, drowsy, and semi-delirious, he is fading in and out of a fever-dream sleep. In the darkness it comes to him, murky and indistinct: all his days, all those wretched childhood days, and awed premonitions of the lifelong work and toil to come. Now: awake, bolt upright in bed. The son, Callum Aitkin, Callum Donald Kenneth Aitkin, grasps unthinkingly and instinctively for childhood comfort - anything to ward away the abject fear of his dreams. He loads up his turquoise-blue Nintendo Switch, laid buried beneath tissues on the nearby darkened nightstand. The murmuring loading screen of 'Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze' dips in and out of view, as his consciousness alternately recedes and rises. The loading screen fades. Emblazoned, now, stark on the screen: a wooden barrell, splintery and stamped in letters an industrial red. The room shimmers in the glow, in the light of this sudden dawning revelation: those ubiquitous initials, that stupid bastard name, burning into his irisis, a name hidden in plain sight.
Oh God. Oh Jesus Christ.
Callum Donald Kenneth Aitkin
Callum Donald Kenneth Aitkin
Callum DK Aitkin
I'm ill; I'm tired. But there's a more than 0% chance that my dad secretly named me after fucking Donkey Kong, isn't there?