Friday, January 16, 2009

February 2008

I don't know what it is, but I have an involuntary dislike for people who've had moderate success in Dublin bands. It's probably got something to do with my lack of rhythm. But given that many of my friends and acquaintances have been or are in bands of varying degrees of success, I'm walking a very fine line. Some might say I've fallen off it and that's why nobody calls me anymore, but I prefer to blame the phone company for cutting me off. Anyway, so here's a column.

February 2008

Things never to say to people who ask you what you think of a band that you vaguely remember: ‘Them? God they’re awful.’ Socially astute people will probably note a fixed, somewhat glassy smile and think: ‘must dial this back before I say something embarrassing.’ On the other hand, if you’re me, you could completely miss this subtle hint, and the horrified looks of your other friends and continue: ‘Wow, they were really one of the worst bands I’ve ever had the misfortune to hear. I was so glad to hear that their career imploded. Plus, they were all incredible tossers.’ In fact, you could, and do, go on at length about the various human failings of people you never met and barely remember, perhaps alluding to how they resembled human beings assembled by moles with only Section 2 (‘Knees’) of the How To Build A Human manual, in Danish.

You might then explain that their music was amazing, if you had always been looking for an aural equivalent of vivisection, before going into a frequently libellous speculation on their future careers, in which ‘poor man’s rent boy’ figured highly. You’d probably start laughing at your own hilarity right about then, happily ignorant of the terrible silent void at the other side of the dinner table. ‘Why do you ask?’ you say. The response: ‘She’s going out with him.’

Apparently, this musician is just so amazing, has great teeth and is very talented (the inference being, you suspect, that you haven’t a speck of the abilities, looks, charisma or intelligence of one of this guy’s eyelashes). Contrary to your privately nurtured hopes that they were eking out a living as a duck impersonator in some Dickensian garret, you find that they are in fact making lots of money and live in the sort of place that the likes of Image magazine has kittens over, while still ‘fulfilling their creative urges’ in some dreadfully meaningful way. Of course, you respond to this revelation in a careful and amazingly discreet way: ‘Oh. He sounds great. Has anyone seen Ghostbusters? Bill Murray does this really funny walk. Look, I’ll show you.’ You can’t buy class like mine.

This sort of thing happens to me a lot. In the same way that many people catalogue the course of their relationships by the no doubt many and varied romantic gestures made by their Brad or Angelina, my wife can measure our time together by the amount of houses that are now barred to us, or number of dinners when I have spoken loudly and inappropriately about fellow diners, always within earshot. Obviously, I like to think of my social faux-pas as the cheeky yet adorable banter of a lovable scamp, whereas everyone else prefers to class it differently. But I’m not interested in labels. The important thing to remember that there is no massive foot in mouth moment that cannot be ignored, if you put in the right level of effort. I recommend being short-sighted, then making a big deal of removing your glasses about five minutes before you know you’re going to become crass and disrespectful of other people’s life choices. This doesn’t mean that anyone will be less offended, but it allows you to pretend that you don’t realise there’s anybody else in the room, a situation frequently achieved by the committed loudmouth.

I still think that band was rubbish.

(No, I'm still not saying what band it was. Buy me a pint or something).

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Welcome to my blog. I'm a freelance writer/journalist/researcher/editor. I write about education and ideas I've had for the Irish Times. I also research, write and edit for writers, publications and websites. Here I put things that tend not to fit anywhere else. Enjoy.

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