Tuesday, 26 November 2013

If All Else Fails - Guest post from Alan Williams

This needs no introduction. Enjoy! 


Do you ever have one of those days when inspiration for a new story escapes you? I did … and it’s lasted two months.

“Why can’t I think of anything?” I asked my very supportive wife of thirty six years.

“Because you’re thick? … or … because you’re Australian? No wait … it’s the same thing.” Then she smiled one of those special smiles that I’ve come to love so much.

“Yeah. But you’re Australian too, my darling Vegemite sandwich,” I countered, quick as a flash.

“I’m only a ‘pretend Aussie’ ‘cause I was born in England so it doesn’t apply to me.” Then she resorted to that bastion of ladies everywhere. “Maybe it’s because you’re a man with a typical one track mind. In your case there was a major derailment some years ago and no amount of little blue pills that you have hidden in the cupboard can help you with that. Besides, I thought your visit to the Woman’s Weekly Event in Manchester was supposed to unleash your innate brilliance.”

It was true. Being the only male amongst all those other aspiring writers and listening to the lectures had helped. I was surrounded by talent so surely some should rub-off onto me. For a start I’d learnt that stories need both a beginning AND an end. That revelation alone probably explained the room full of rejection slips that I’d been lucky enough to receive. Unfortunately the workshop later on hadn’t gone as well. The combined gasps of horror as I read  my hastily prepared opening paragraph were a little embarrassing. I’ve since heard that Gaynor and three other women are still having intensive therapy sessions.

“Perhaps Womag writing isn’t your forte, Alan,” was the suggestion of one of the presenters after the paramedics had left.

Nevertheless I’d returned to sunny (but boring) France determined to produce vast quantities of quality stories. The trouble was my tiny brain had dried up. I tried to get inspiration from the tele; that new sixty second makeover show for instance. A story based on colours often did wonders? Not so this time though. Squid Ink Green did not inspire me at all.

I switched channels. It was the one day in the month when I was allowed to touch the coveted remote. How about the vivid imagination of a famous secret agent visiting my old stomping grounds Down-Under? I could learn a lot from his sparkling insight into my fellow county-persons and then I could compose the bestest story in the world.

I gave up after two minutes of watching. “They call ‘kids’, ‘ankle-biters’ in Australia he explained, knowledgeably.

“Yeah and every Brit says ‘tickety-boo’ and ‘time for tiffin’” I yelled back at the television.
Let’s see! What else could I try?

Perhaps I could finish that story I began three years ago? The first two lines read ‘The universe ended yesterday. Today was going to be worse still.’ It was no use. I gave up on that idea too after a frustrating two hours.

Alcohol fuelled brainwaves, maybe? No good for me. I’m the only Aussie in the world who can’t drink.
Mind-expanding drugs then? I never touched drugs myself (apart from the 820 little blue ones I bought for a fiver on e-bay) but my darling other half had been a child of the sixties so I decided to try some of hers that were stashed in the kitchen drawer. The morning after saw no change in my creative thoughts. Apparently paracetamol is different to LDS but how was I to know that?

“Why not try some romantic writing?” my lovely wife suggested. “Romance. Women love to read anything about unrequited love and passion. I could help you out …”

“I’m a married man. What do I know about romance?”

The next three weeks were spent sleeping on the couch. My back was killing me and someone had used up all the pain-killer tablets.

Finally, in desperation, I fired up the old Amstrad 464 to go on t’internet. Surely somewhere I could discover a way to ‘relight my fires’. The answer was there in green and white. Cheese! Not the gooey French stuff that is only useful for making the fridge smell or developing new anti-biotics. Equally well Cheddar, or Wensleydale were out of the question since British cheeses are banned by law in France. The answer was Gouda. Yummy-yummy Gouda.

Apparently (according to t’internet), two slices of rubbery Gouda taken at 3.10 in the morning will induce so many nightmares you’ll never be short of ideas again! Simples!! It’s because cheese contains tryptophan (and other cheesy stuff). I’m now in the process of incorporating a vegetarian crocodile into my story about ninja koalas. I’m certain it will be a best seller and plan to send it to People’s Friend next week.

So, fellow Womaggers. There’s no excuse for failing to come up with story ideas. According to a Cheese Board study in 2005, Stilton is great for ideas about talking vegetables and Johnny Depp whereas Cheshire is brilliant for dreams of a more romantic nature. In fact this very enlightening tale is itself the result of a Chili and Mozzarella Pizza I ate at four o’clock this morning so you can see how well it works.

Now I’m off to start my novel. It’s about a very strange Australian. Anyone I know?


UK dissertation said...

Its been good article thanks for sharing..

Della G said...

Hilarious, as usual, Alan. I think you should definitely write a column. :)

Penny Alexander said...

Humour always welcome in this occasionally humdrum world - which must go for short stories too. Any problems finding the right inspirational cheese... move West, is my advice :-) Have never seen so many varieties in one market place.

parlance said...

Oh, that's interesting! I'm Aussie, but my mum was British, and she always said we shouldn't eat cheese before bed, because we'd have nightmares.

I'll have to start eating cheese at night. But wait…What about my waistline?


Wendy's Writing said...

What was it I had to eat again to dream of Johnny Depp? I laughed out loud when I read this, Alan.

Tassie Devil said...

Thanks for all the beaut comments. Tassie Devil is my new secret identity but I'm still Alan.
I should make it clear that my real wife (as opposed to the imaginary wife) does not have distain for ALL Australian (only one).
Also she has now banned cheese from the household. Our cat Mouse, who loves cheese, has crossed her off his Chrissie card list.
Both my real and imaginary wives do however still watch THAT secret agent and asked me if I have ever heard an Aussie use the expression 'as hot as a shearer's armpits'? Apparently (according to our beloved agent) all Australian's use it although it was a new one to the both of us.
And they say I've got a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock!!

Denise Watson said...

Wow, did I enjoy that!

Being an English woman tucked away in the North-West Spanish outback (where the only exciting thing that happens is the postman passing through the village (might I add, because his mother lives here), I'm going to break into my stock of Spanish cheese (and my gift of Cheddar)to see what happens for me. Hmm .... maybe thw postman might start delivering on cowback .. if you see what I mean .. .

Tassie Devil said...

Appreciate your observations Denise. Sad to say I'm really envious. Someone actually coming to your village! If only France were as stimulating!
That's unfair. Some expats would love it over here, I'm sure.
Nevertheless, I have resolved to come up with some story ideas today ... or maybe tomorrow. Definitely soon. The alternative would be to actually succumb to reality and that is something I cannot allow to happen.