A thought struck me the other day. I've never actually liked the word 'blog' it's naturally modern but as word I find it a bit clinical, and it certainly doesn't demonstrate the splendid array of words that can be contained in them like a novel or short story does. It's my love of these things called 'words' that has made me want to write one.
I've always preferred letters over numbers. There's just something beautiful about how you can bundle them together to create wondrous words, the wonder being the power they actually posses. Dependent on where they sit in a sentence, they can ether tickle your funny bone or pull at your heartstrings. I don't think numbers have that affect (well there's the recession) but it's not the same reaction. I can't remember anyone gripped with laughter repeating the number 26, or indeed anyone ever remarking 'I haven't heard that number in years.'
Words do indeed fall out of fashion, but that's nothing but the by-product of time, and indeed part of their charm and the picture they can paint. It's all about context. Such words as 'Divine' or 'languid' that now conjure up images of Twenties opulence, the sipping of a cold Gin and Tonic in between puffs from a cocktail cigarette, were once new and only so as they were uttered by these bright young things.
Naturally this is all subjective, although I am assuming you are a fan of the written word if you have got this far. As I am a fan, I have favourite words, such as marvellous, idiotic and vinyl. Discombobulated is a very good one, but perhaps I have always really favoured frivolous. It's because I like being it. I remember being in a temp job and being asked where my boss was, to which I said I was trying to get him to sober up before our next meeting. It's actually on occasions like that where I could do with a sign that said 'frivolous' so people at least know to laugh, or not take me at my word. Although sometimes I wish they would. I did really want those two connecting meeting rooms changed to 'Sly', and 'The Family Stone' respectively.
To avoid being frivolous for a second, I did actually start this blog (there's that word again) by talking about words and why I favoured them over numbers. I am aware that they are beautifully different, but for me, the fundamental difference is that while both of them can be manipulated, the numbers always have to add up. Words aren't like that, they don't have to add up, and they have so many different meanings.
So whether you like to listen to your favourite voice on a page, or out of your home speakers, take a moment to actually listen to what that person has done with those letters. They are indeed only words and you've probably used quite a few yourself before settling down to this. Go and use a few more. Start with frivolous.
Even if you've never been to the Edinburgh Festival, you'd have to be a bit of a numpty not to think that any show you see there, from Theatre to Stand Up, has not been pondered, written and rehearsed to within an inch of its life. Obviously my shows are, but then again, I'm a Virgo. That said, with all the prep and sweat I put into every single sentence, it's real life that triggers the laughter and you have to be ready to accept it, just like when a kid plays with the box over the toy, or an album is only affordable as a reissue. I've given you a couple of these moments below, things that genuinely did happen to me whilst offstage, and I hope they make you realise that sometimes, you can't write stuff like this.
I think I had only been there a couple of days when I bumped into a panicked comedian I knew. She was doing her show in forty minutes and with a reviewer in, could do with a friendly face, so would naturally sort me a ticket. As I didn't have enough time to sit down to eat, I hurried to the chippy and with fish and chips in my hand, promptly sought out a bench on The Meadows to satisfy my appetite.
The Meadows is a green stretch of Edinburgh, equally populated with performers, tourists and drunks. As I enjoyed my grub, a couple of minutes passed before a man sat next to me and pulled out a guitar. I glanced towards him, was informed that I wasn't in his way, so went back to my munching and left him to his tuning. He then launched into a song, singing and everything, which was when I realised I was now sat next to a Busker. I remember thinking, if anyone stops to watch, they're going to want to know what the fella with the chips is gonna' do. How long before he sings? Let's just say, they were the fastest fish and chips I have ever eaten and I have only just stopped taking the Rennies.
Earlier on, I had been in the pound shop (as you know, most comedians are doing well) to furnish my temporary accommodation with such delights as coathangers, mug, plate and emergency toilet roll. As I was in a queue, I saw an elderly gentlemen stop at a display and pick something from it. He ambled over to an assistant and asked “Is this a chocolate bar?” to which he was told “No, that's a DVD.”
As I said, those were just a couple of things that happened to me whilst I was there; I haven't even mentioned becoming briefly homeless, but maybe that's for another time...
It's a strange concept when we're told things are free. Firstly, we're led to believe that the best things in life are free, only to find out that these 'things' should be given to the birds and bees as it's money that people want. The problem is that money shouldn't be cared for as it can't buy you love, and everybody tells you so. Then of course there's the free lunch, which is naturally weird because as soon as you hear about it, you're told it doesn't exist. I could never figure out if it was like the Yeti. And if these 'free lunches' do happen under the premise of an assumed debt, what favour are my parents going to claim for the endless Nobbly Bobblies I devoured at Barry Island?
So what, in this 'Best things' category is truly free? To begin with, you're free, to do what you want, any old time. If I was to be serious for a minute, I would simply say that you just need to make yourself aware that these 'things' are out there, and with the right frame of mind, they'll stumble your way.
You'll be surprised what does. On holiday in Dorset, I regularly 'helped myself' to some fresh apples from a box marked with the same sentence. That same holiday, I got to 'Hitch Hike' for the first time, when a incredibly kind man answered my thumb (I believe that's the right term). This fine fellow was nice enough to bundle me and my girlfriend in his car and drive past his door to drop us off at our door. Not only did it relive our legs, but saved us from the storm that had started brewing.
More recently, I've been scouring the charity shops for photo frames. As you'll find out, along with the records, I also collect photographs of families I've never met. I love them as a little snapshot of time and, as I was rummaging through a box of heroin – sorry I should say, mixed bric a brac, I pulled out a frame. This frame fitted exactly a photograph I have been wanting to frame for quite some time. That probably sounds odd to the Ikea generation, but this frame was older than me, and the photo in question had been cut especially to fit this type of frame. It was free because I just put in my carrier bag. No, it was in a box marked 'free,' its price sticker crudely reduced to try and entice someone into taking it home. Nobody did, until I came along, as I was the right person to have it.
Even if you don't like to Womble a bargain or amble though the countryside, you obviously like to read. I'm assuming this as you got this far. Then keep your eyes open for the fairies. I was walking through central London recently and on the top of the button box for a pedestrian crossing, sat a book. It wasn't forgotten or misplaced, it was there as a gift, wrapped in ribbon and looking inviting. I glanced around to see if anyone had spotted it, looked again to see if it still existed, (I'd expected it to turn into a milkshake carton) and so I picked it up, eagerly eyeing the front until I could stop and study it more. It was donated by the Book fairies, a lovely group of random individuals who simply pass things on. I had no intention of reading this, but as I'd found it, I was obviously meant to, and like a kind fairy, passed it on.
So take off your headphones, discard any attention to your phone and have a look what you can see There's more to life than just a free voucher.