Thursday, January 19, 2006

Beans Monologue

I overheard a monologue the other day that went something like this:

“Crosse and Blackwell, right, well they also make beans. I bought four tins, because they were on special offer, two for one. Well, I put them all in the same carrier bag and I was walking home and it split! I was chasing a tin of beans as it rolled down the road.

I think what I’ll do next time is put two in one bag, two in another, and then double bag ‘em.

read moreHave you seen those bags for life? When they’re not really for life. They don’t last that long. But at least the handles don’t stretch.”

Alan Bennett eat your heart out.

Listening to this man drone on, neither needing, or receiving any encouragement or response from his sole listener, I tried to isolate what it was about this monologue that I found so fascinating.

I came to the conclusion that he had no internal editor. Whereas you or I might have had similar experiences or thoughts, we would perhaps stop short of considering them worthy of sharing with friends and family or indeed strangers at bus stops.

This man had no such filter in place. There was no inner voice asking pertinent questions, such as; “Is this remotely interesting to anyone but me?” “Is this just tedious minutiae?” and “What does minutiae mean anyway?”

It’s a great trick for writing characters unlike yourself. Just mentally remove a few mental editors or filters and let yourself go.

I like observing quirks like that.

Another classic trait I occasionally encounter is the misguided belief that just because a particular person is obsessively interested in a particular topic, everyone else would be too, if only they were fully briefed on the joys of said topic.

The first time I encountered this trait, the topic was genealogy, but it happens a lot with religion, partly because the idea of preaching is built in. And they figure they’re doing you a favour as they’re saving your soul.

From tins of baked beans to the human soul in under four hundred words.