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Friday, 11 October 2013

Ringo's Revenge

Photo by Shona Howat
When you write about real people you need to be really sensitive sometimes.

Mention individuals only when they do or say something extraordinary and you risk not only upsetting them but also violating Kant's categorical imperative, which is always a risk for a writer.

So when Chuck tells me he wants a chat, as he sits on the sofa with little Sally - who's contemplating the world she recently entered and, by the look on her face, judging it all right so far - I take him seriously.

"What seems to be the trouble, laddie?" I say.

"I want more," he says.

"More what?" I say.

"More lines. A bigger part. The last post I was in I only got one lousy line."

"But it was the most important line in the piece," I tell him. "In fact it was the single most important thing anyone's said in all the posts I've written so far. That's impressive."

He nods, clearly realising it's a good point, so I press my advantage. "You're like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now," I tell him. "Small part but enormous impact."

"That was a good film," he says.

"Let's hear you deliver one of his lines," I say.

"Which one?" he says.

"I dunno. How about: "We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes."

"Uh, uh," he says, wagging his finger at me. "Rule Number 1."

"Sorry," I say. "'No swearing in front of little Sally.' I forgot."

"So you're telling me I'm the Marlon Brando of your blog?" he says, the scepticism audible in his tone.

"Yes," I say.

"Nah, that's ridiculous." he says. "I'm not buying it. I still want more lines."

Sally breaks wind loudly, opens startled blue eyes, gives me a huge smile and promptly falls asleep again.

"Sorry Chuck," I say. "I've lost the thread. She is gorgeous, isn't she?"

"Everyone says she looks like me," he says.

"Don't you believe them," I say. "She's gorgeous."

"So what do you think then?" he says. "Can you beef up my part?"

I shake my head. "I don't see how. You're a major character in your own life, but I only see you every few weeks."

"I have interesting opinions though," he says.

"What about?" I say.

"Life, love," he says. "Music."

"You're a good singer; I'll give you that," I say. "But you don't have musical opinions I want aired on my blog."

"Why not?" he says.

"For one thing you refuse to grasp how good Ringo is and how much influence he's had on every rock group since. Which is strange since one of the most obvious is your favourite band Oasis. They even used his son Zak on drums for years. And they still sucked."

"You're off on one again," he says. "Oasis was a great band."

"I don't think so," I say. "And neither did their leader. 'Any Tom, Dick or Harry can be in Oasis,' Noel Gallagher said. 'Just so he's got the right haircut.'"*

"Yeah, well you shouldn't listen to Noel," he says.

"But I should listen to you?" I say.

"Of course," he says and goes quiet. So I take the opportunity to study little Sal again. She's blowing bubbles in her sleep now and looks like she might be teething. But she should be too young for that.

"I've got it," he says.

"What?" I say.

"I know how you can give me a bigger part in your blog and make it appeal to people who don't have zimmers, bus passes and hair growing out their ears."

"Go on then."

"Well you said I was a good singer. How about I record something and you put it on your blog? A bit of audio would spice it up, make it more interesting to the YouTube generation."

Sally seems to be shaking her head in her sleep and I can't say the idea appeals to me either. 

"How about I make you more interesting instead," I say. "I could turn you into a closet homosexual."

"Don't you dare," he says. "I'm a happily married man."

"What about wearing pink knickers and a bra at the weekend?" I say. "Plenty of married men do that. Doesn't make them less manly."

"No!" he says, getting up to go and reaching down for little Sally, who seems amused. "Don't write anything like that. I'll let you have a recording."

"You'll need to be quick," I say. "You got me thinking now. I could make you a criminal mastermind, who fools everyone with his just-a-regular-guy routine, but ..."

"No!" he is shouting now. "I work in the sheriff court. Listen I'm off. I'll be back soon with that recording. Don't do anything."

"I just hope you can sing faster than I can write," I say.

He turns around and his mouth opens.

"Uh, uh," I say, wagging my finger at him. "Rule Number 1."

* Peter Green. Man of the World. BBC4 Documentary, 2012 (Noel Gallagher speaking at the 6 minute mark).

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