Thursday, 27 June 2013

Are You Interesting?

I've been shot at twice; on another occasion told to: "hit the floor!" by masked gunmen; ran at by a drug-crazed lunatic with an iron bar; had a stab victim fall upon me from behind a telephone box in the street and I had to hold his face together with my scarf; I've also sat in an empty post room in a busy HQ when warned that there was a bomb alert and it was in that room.

All these events, I tried to impart to a group of people who asked me: "Is there anything interesting you can tell us?" I was interrupted half way by a sweet little old lady who said, with tears in her eyes, "Very nice dear, but I lost my poor little dog Sammy last week."

My mouth snapped shut and all faces immediately donned dewy sympathy and turned towards the old lady. I had been put in my place - nobody cared.

I like to read the occasional Austen novel, it's like a hot frothy coffee on a cold winter afternoon. In the forward it says: "Jane Austen's life is often noted for its lack of events." I've just read a Stephen Fry book and thoroughly enjoyed it but during the whole time I thought: "If this was anyone but Stephen, an unknown say, then would I love it so much?" Stephen had captured his life events in print.

But, what if there is more to you than a summation of events? A question often thrown out during a long sleepless night by fitful teens and again when mid-life is supposed to throw up a crisis.

At a funeral, I sat and listened to a eulogy and it consisted of a list of life events relating to the person occupying a box. It was like listening to a Resume and it didn't describe what the person was like. I hadn't known him well, just the last couple of years of his life. Does a book contain the writer, like a wooden box holds the deceased or does it contain events compiled from memory, experience, perceptions and sheer expanse of a vivid imagination?

As a reader, I enter printed events and without realising it, I run a comparison of how I would react given the circumstances. It depends on how well the events are written, the emotion, the impact, that determines the soul of the book and whether I will hold it within my memory.

So, are you interesting? Do you care if you are? Whole industries are built on just that, including the publishing world. Just beware of sweet little old ladies!