Saturday, October 22, 2005

Strange worries

Next week I'll be talking to the Falmouth School of Art's Professional Writing Course, because it's only down the road. This will be, I think, the third time I've talked to the newies on the course, and I just went back and had a look at last years talk, and remembered this bit:

"What makes Henry laugh is other people’s pain. ‘I was talking with a friend about slapstick and he fell and hurt his ankle. I was crying with laughter. I like well-timed actual pain."


I never did anything about this before, because it's like finding a horrible photo of yourself, and pointing it out to people, trying to explain that it's the lighting, really, it is.

But as some of the new people may go back and check on what I said last year, to make sure they're getting their money's worth and not being fobbed off with yesterdays tea boiled, I thought I might put this in context*. Also, I wouldn't want them to think they're going to be meeting a monstrous tosser of the lowest order.

What actually happened was this: when I lived in Canterbury, a very good friend of mine who gave me my first break (he used to work for the types who make Bob the Builder) came to visit. We headed out for a pint, and on the way (so no drinking yet) had really quite a profound and rather abstract conversation about the art of slapstick. At which point m'colleague fell rather spectacularly off the pavement, disappearing from my field of view entirely.

Now I don't normally laugh at people hurting themselves. I promise I don't. It's a small-minded sort of thing to do which would put me in the company of people who read mens magazines with three-letter titles, a place I don't want to be. But when you're talking about slapstick, and someone executes a perfect pratfall, one has to show one's appreciation somehow. Almost immediately however, it became apparent that my good chum had actually hurt his ankle quite badly and was now in quite a lot of pain. Which made it worse, as I ended up with the sort of nervous giggle practiced by lunatics and over-sugared schoolchildren. So things were, frankly, a bit frosty. Until I bought him lots of drinks and apologized profusely.

He went to work for Aardman later on, and I had another drink with him much later, so I think we're okay now.

Anyway, I wouldn't want the new people to walk into the room thinking I'm a socially-retarded monstrous tosser. Obviously they may walk out thinking exactly that, according to how the talk goes, but that's their right.

Oddly enough, I did some freelance work as a mob hitman in the early nineties, killed a lot of innocent people in a variety of horrible, gruesome ways. Never lost a nights sleep over it.

Funny how the human mind works.


* Also, I made less money this year, which has sent the graph all to crikey. And yet I'm having more important meetings. Perhaps my talk should be titled: 'I have literally no idea what I'm doing'.


Swiv said...

and yet you do appear to have a book finished...

Good luck with them, hope they're as lovely as we were.

Anonymous said...

‘You can have truth or you can have funny.’

Hm? Hm?

James Henry said...

I believed that at the time. Now I think the two work together - look at or for proof. The blog is surprisingly true to life - although I have a terrible memory for dates, so they're often completely wrong.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. Just so long as Toy-Fu is real, true documentary journalism, I'm happy.

And as long as you really did set that menu on fire.

And I like to think the laundry/hotel episode was real.

And that Paladin who totally resurrected from ded.

Hm. Long list. Dammit, just tell us when you're fibbing. It'll be simpler all round.

James Henry said...

I may have missed 'Dweebs', although it sounds like my kind of thing. Glad I'm not the only person who thought 'Partners' was worth staying up for, as well. The episode with Mimi Rogers was one of the best episodes of a sitcom ever.

All the above are true (particularly toy-fu, which will return with increased veritas soon). Sadly, I couldn't really make that stuff up - my life really is like that.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

Nothing to do with this post, but I read about this Viking-related tomfoolery I naturally thought of you. Don't you wish you could be there? Or at least read the references?

James Henry said...

Yes and yes. Am now waiting excitedly for the photos.

Anonymous said...

If he works for Aardman, I would be looking carefully at the background characters for some really ugly lunatic cripple being mocked by a gang of boys who trip him and laugh like drains.

The crip would have your face. That would give your friend quite a jaunty countenance if he brought that off.

- barista