Saturday, 6 August 2011

Telling stories...

I found myself on the spot at a family function recently where everyone was asking about my book. As I squirmed in my chair and tried to sound confident describing the plot (why does it always sound lame?) and nervously fiddling with my hair, my cousin nudged me and smiled, "You always loved telling stories when we were kids."

I'd wracked my brain - had I? I couldn't really remember. Throughout my childhood and my teens all I could remember obsessing about was becoming an actress or a singer so I was always prancing around the living rooms of friends and family, putting on plays and just generally being a precocious little brat. But I suppose all of that was a form of story telling - a chance to pretend to be someone else and live out a different story for a while.

I always told stories and by around the age of 12 I became convinced I was a pathological liar and resided myself in the fact I'd probably live out my days in a loony bin. I just...made shit up. (Anyone I went to school with who's unsure as to whether I actually went out with a mysterious 20 year old called Jay who rode a motorcycle, wore a leather jacket and smoked....erm, yeah...I didn't). Life just seemed a bit dull and I had all of these crazy ideas in my head that I wanted to express and I had no idea how to do it. The silly stuff to try and make me look cool stopped quickly (thank the lord - how embarrassing...) as I managed to get it out of my system through creative writing and drama classes but as an adult I found the odd little story creeping in.

Carol: "Hello <<insert major supermarket here>>."
Me: "Canb I shhpeak to Carol pleaseb?"
Carol: "Yes, it's me. That wouldn't be Emma by any chance would it?"
Me: "Yesh, I'm afraish I wonbe in work chewday."
Carol (warily): "Really? Why's that?"
Me: "Welg, I'b hashome bental worch donb and canb shpeak..."
Carol: "Dental work?"
Me: "Yesh. Bemergensshee bental worch."
Carol: "On a Saturday?"
Me: "Maaadjor bemergenshee."
Carol: "Weren't you off last Saturday as well? Because you had to help the police with some incident with your next door neighbour."
Me: "Thash correct."
Carol (sighing): "Fine, Emma. Call me when you're better."

I'd hung up the phone and removed my finger from my mouth and turned to a nineteen year old Dos who was sat on the arm of the sofa, arms folded and looking distinctly unimpressed.

"You couldn't just tell them you weren't feeling well? Like a normal person," He asked, raising an eyebrow.

I'd frowned at him, "Of course not. They'd never believe that." I smiled triumphantly. "Besides, the tooth thing is perfect - no one's stupid enough to make that up."

"No, I suppose not," He looked amused and pointed at me. "You love doing that."


"Telling stories," He yawned and stretched. "You can't help yourself. Now, come and help me clean the place. That party was mental and I've got the mother of all hangovers..."

In the last four years, I've managed to find an outlet for my imagination through my book and I wish I'd done it sooner. It might have saved my bosses in my part time jobs while I was at University a lot of frustration.

I met with a friend of mine today for a coffee. She's been studying to be a vet for the last five years and finally graduates next May. She's worked her butt off to achieve her dream and as she was in the middle of an anecdote about working a 24 hour shift and having to deal with doggy diarrhoea, broken hind legs and neutering, I saw the twinkle in her eye and just knew she was born to work with animals.

Some people become vets. Some tell stories.

I suppose that's just how it is sometimes.



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