Wednesday, 27 July 2005

You scratch my back, I'll stab yours.

Yesterday, I went to see a screening of ten things, one of which was written by me. (Don't worry, they were quite short things. I wasn't watching ten opera cycles. That's on Friday.) Anyway, in the chat after the screening, I got talking to another of the writers, who asked me which one I'd written, and then when I told her, said she'd liked it. Obviously, this told me nothing about whether she'd liked it or not, just that she was a normal polite human being. We both knew it, and that was fine. But it did mean that I now had to ask her which hers was, and then say I liked it; being bound doubly by the laws of being a normal polite human being (qv), and also by the laws of being a recently complimented human being, required to deliver myself from compliment debt. We both knew this as well, and this, also, was fine. Except that, as I opened my mouth to reply, the stupid part of my brain expressed a concern that this wasn't going to sound very convincing. At this point, of course, the rest of my brain ought to have wrestled the stupid part to the ground and sat on it, explaining between hammer blows that it didn't need to be convincing, it just needed to be polite. Unfortunately, the stupid part of my brain is quite a large part, and the rest of my brain looked at it, and didn't fancy its chances of getting it down and keeping it down. So instead, it asked the stupid part of my brain what it thought we should do about it. 'Be honest!' said the stupid part of my brain, as it so often and so stupidly does. 'Acknowledge the situation! Make light of it! That's bound to work!' All this took only half a second, as the stupid part of my brain is very quick-thinking, in the sense of quickly thinking something really stupid. And so I said

'Thank you! And which one's yours? Although obviously whichever it was I'm going to tell you it's great!'

Immediately, the rest of my brain caught up with what the stupid part had done. This was disaster. I hadn't done anything to evade my duties as a polite person and a complimented person- I had merely made it much harder to discharge them. Because now I'd wilfully and unnecessarily pointed out the situation we were both aware of anyway, a simple 'Oh, right! That was great!', -which was all that required of me a moment ago- would now practically be an insult. The only way out was to put on a big Oscar-winning performance about how, actually, conincidentally, that one (whichever it was) genuinely was my favourite, for the following six good reasons. Or was that the only way? The stupid part of my brain was down, but it wasn't out. Perhaps, it reasoned, stupidly, perhaps now the whole issue is out in the open, there is a humorous 'get out of jail free' card to be played... And so it was that the following exchange took place:

Her: Oh, I wrote 'The Icy Cormorant of Love'.
Me: Did you? That was rubbish!


She looked as if I'd punched her.


And the really annoying thing is that hers was actually one of my favourites. Astonishing the things they can train cormorants to do these days.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's rather funny.

I like to imagine that if we were still at Flat 5 you would have no need for a blog as you'd simply be able to tell me these anecdotes in person, rewarded by my encouraging laughter rather than so many hollow pixels.

And then I go back to staring at myself longingly in the mirror.

G

John F said...

It's true! *sob* It's all true. This is all nothing more than a pitiful G-substitute. Admittedly not as pitiful as the one that sits in the corner of my living room, rudely constructed out of a mop and some clothes I stole from your washing line, but pitiful nonetheless.

Incidentally, wouldn't 'So Many Hollow Pixels' be a good name for a band? 'The Hollow Pixels' for short.

marianne said...

I wish I'd come now. Not to see the films but to witness the car crash that was you. Although if that were a sketch I'd probably say it was a bit silly because no one would be that rude...

John F said...

I wasn't BEING rude! I was being ironic rude! It was hilarious! Why does no one see that but me? Oh dear.

James Casey said...

For what it's worth, I got it.

Second time round.

Anonymous said...

I take it the sketches weren't all comedy, then? Not all written by people with an appreciation for irony?

*sigh

It sounds to me like the stupid part of your brain is charmingly optimistic and just wants to play. I'm so sorry. *pats it

On the other hand, it's free to come out and play around here anytime (the stupid part of my brain apparently really appreciates the stupid part of your brain), so there's that. For what it's worth.

:)

Mara

Anonymous said...

And this is what happens when a friend links you to a post and neglects to highlight the date.

*slinks off to hide now

M

Anonymous said...

Mara - the date's at the top. You're smarter than I am and I knew that!

But I apologize - in the future, I will link with greater attentiveness.

smm

Anonymous said...

My fault, really.

*waves to John... sorry, we're just chatting here in your blog comments :D

M

Kris said...

I'd've lol'd, even if it was my movie, or book. That's the exact kind of evil British humor my brother's friends do to me. And we're American.

Aaaand now I've read your whole blog. More Cabin Pressure and Souvenirs soon I hope!

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