Odds and Sods – A Final Reflection

One thing that struck me as I stumbled out of my Odds & Sods computer file and into the boxes of tattered paperwork that litter my attic (in a physical, as well as a metaphorical sense) is how very long it took me to become me.  What I have written has always been – as far as such a thing is possible – ‘original’, but I have not always been me whilst writing it.  I was always wearing somebody else’s hat.  I wrote as Spike Milligan, Woody Allen, Monty Python, Ronnie Barker, Alan Coren – it took me many years to find me.  In many respects that has only fully happened over the last couple of years.  For much of my writing life I resembled a man raking through a box of other people’s underwear – trying to find a pair that fit: whatever I put into them was my own, but surrounded by somebody else’s DNA.  (Have you ever written an analogy that has made you feel queasy?  I think I may need a whisky.)  It was never a conscious thing.  I am a sponge; I soak up whatever surrounds me – which proved particularly troublesome when I worked in my Father-in-Law’s pub: pissed by osmosis is no defence in law.  Subconsciously, I seek to replicate, in style rather than substance, what I enjoy.

It was a trait that I sought to get a grip on (way back when it mattered) by not reading or watching any ‘comedy’ whilst I was working on something myself.  The merest glimpse of ‘The Magic Roundabout’ or ‘Hector’s House’ in the five minutes before the early evening news and all of my characters became happily drug-dependent misfits: a commune of odd souls happily existing in a world just one degree south of our own.  A mere thirty minutes in the company of Victoria Wood would leave me desperately hopeless – certain that I just was not cut out for this.  Yet I plodded on, and I did ok within the limits of my capabilities (large limits, tiny capabilities) but I don’t think I ever truly spoke with my own voice until I started this little farrago a couple of years ago.  If you do not like my blog, then you almost certainly will not like me – and, if I’m honest, having waved a fond farewell to my first six decades, it is something that I have learned to live with.  Like everybody, I seek approbation, but I understand why I might not get it.  It’s ok.  I understand, also, that I will not be able to change the minds of those who do not like me – because they are idiots, obviously.

Anyway, until this morning I had in front of me several pieces of Odds & Sods arcania that I intended to revisit: things that I thought I might, somehow, breathe new life into, but it has occurred to me that in order to do so, I would once again have to become the person that wrote them originally – and I no longer have any real recollection of who that was.  Was he Colin in Alan Coren’s jockeys, in the multifarious Pythonian undergarments, or even those of the erstwhile Mr Barker, which would, in all senses, make me feel like far less of a man than he?  Frankly, as much as I continue to admire the work of these people, I have no desire to be re-assimilated by them, so the paperwork has gone back into the loft and the lid has gone back on the Odds & Sods.  And we’re all stuck with me again…

6 thoughts on “Odds and Sods – A Final Reflection

  1. I am not stuck with you. I’ve seen all of Python’s stuff and especially like The Philosopher’s Song. This doesn’t I want everyone else to rewrite it. Clese is a genius, but so is Weird Al. I love both. I’m glad you found your voice and I will continue to follow you as well as them. I am not stuck I look forward to more

    Laughter is my muse Keep it coming

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  2. Wot Mr Ohh said. I believe we all take on influences from the best. Peter Cook, Tom Lehrer are still stratospheric in my view. Then again we can all go to depths of cringeworthy try-hard gross crap like Derek and Clive. Same dude, different times. Talent is still there but well hidden by other demons.
    I seem to have wandered from the path. All I can say is I write because I like to, while I still enjoy it, I will. The audience might be minute, but them’s the breaks. I’m influenced by many but I look at it this way; It’s all filtered through my mind, that puts my spin on it. And if I unintentionally veer toward someone shtick, well it’s all done in the best possible taste!
    Sounds egocentric? Not according to my vast array of followers.

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