It’s Hip To Be Cuboid

Through a series of germ-related incidents, I ended up as the responsible adult designated with the task of looking after my niece for the day.

It’s always an exciting prospect because you never really know what you’re going to get, other than an eleven year old really pushing the boundaries of the most powerful gaming consoles by driving a bus round Manhatten in Lego Marvel Superheroes and/or Lego Marvel Avengers for hours at a time.

I’ve tried to ban the game when she’s here. I’ve lied and told her it’s been lent to someone or sold. I haven’t tried stolen or died in a fire yet. But there is still time.

So that happened, because these things are inevitable.

But what also happened was she brought her Rubik’s Cube with her.

Which, basically, kept me amused for most of the day.

My dad used to have an original Rubik’s cube back in the day. It was in a little holder thing that was like a plastic bell jar which sat over the cube. It had the effect of somehow making the experience all the more fun when you played with it because you had to go through the ceremony of removing the cover to get at the fabled cube.

And then, because you were young, you’d just spin the cube round a bit and never be able to solve it. And my dad had a book on how to solve the Rubik’s cube, which detailed the different twists and turns – or algorithms, basically, as Matt Parker describes then on his StandUpMaths YouTube channel – that would allow you to move the coloured squares to where you wanted them.

My young mind wasn’t ready for that.

My young mind was, however, ready to peel all the stickers off and replace them so that the sides were completed.

What this did, however, was entirely fudge up the Rubik’s cube for all eternity. It basically didn’t work properly anymore. I killed it. Because what I did was rather than remove all the stickers and rebuild the sides, as you would imagine someone would. I just removed some of the stickers and switched them about a bit. Which, basically makes the thing unsolvable. Probably.

That’s my excuse anyway. And dad would occasionally remind of the time I killed his Rubik’s cube.

The thing is, after playing with one today, I really want one again. Now I am older and wiser and my brain thrives on puzzles and things like that. I like the tactile nature of sitting and twisting the cube. And getting cross with the fact that I have seven or eight tiles on one side and no idea of how to get the other tiles to go where I want them. But there’s also the dawning of understanding that my more experienced brain has that was lacking in my child brain. I can sort of see how I would need to go about twisting and turning to solve the thing. I still can’t do it, mind. I was at it for a good while today and got no further than nearly completing a side.

But it was tantalising.

And, I reckon, with a few more months of twists and turns I could probably do it. Maybe. Or at the worst, I could go to mum’s and scour the bookshelves for the How To… book and have some hope of understanding the witchcraft contained within.

And failing that, these modern cubes are easier to dismantle and reassemble than the older ones…