Monday, May 26, 2008

Goin' nowhere man

I am the King of telling pointless anecdotes! You know the sort: stories that sound as if they might be amusing, but aren't - tales that seem like they might go somewhere, but don't - descriptions that sound as if they could be interesting, if told about something else, by someone else; but won't be, because they're not, and aren't. For instance, did you know I bumped into a woman on the train the other day wearing stripy socks? So there! Once, I also had an encounter with a man on the train talking loudly into a mobile phone behind me. Then, I got off the train. Also, on Saturday, when I was walking to the newspaper store, I noticed there was a tree standing outside my house: it was also there when I got back! But I wonder if it will be there next time? And where did it come from?

Pointless anecdotes are perfect for all sorts of social situations, especially the wrong ones. They can be used to fill in the time between one time and another time that most of us experience; for remarking on an event that would go otherwise unremarked; for communicating ideas to other people about things that you have ideas about; or for those times when you want to start a conversation at one random point and end it at another random point while putting a number of relatively ambiguous words in between. In other words, pointless anecdotes are a perfect expressive vehicle for expressing stuff that would otherwise go unexpressed, and can be developed into an art form of great potency.

When telling pointless anecdotes, it is always best to use half-remembered quotes - so long as the half you remember is the wrong half. These are very useful for demonstrating how knowledgeable you are in meaningless data about important people. Half-remembered quotes can be padded out by all manner of phrases: "Like, you know, sort of, and such and such." For instance:

Did you know, once at a talk given by T S Eliot, he was asked, "What do you mean by "Lady, three white leopards sat under some sort of a tree, I can't remember know, what was it?"And T S Eliot replied, "I meant three white leopards sat under the tree, whatever it was." Or at least, he was supposed to. I don't know why he said that. Whatever sort of tree it was now, I, you know, forget that detail, sorry about that.

Thus, by injudicious use of unimportant phrases, a half-remembered quote can be prolonged for however long one wants. Of course, it helps if you do some research, and be sure to read all the titles of the books by the great authors, and possibly the front-page blurbs as well. This gives you a great insight into the names of these authors, and access to all manner of not-very-important quotes. Imagine meeting a person at a party and saying: "I have read all the titles by the Great Authors!" How impressed they would be!

In conclusion, did I tell you about the thing that I did the other day in between doing something else, and another thing altogether? Well, we'd better leave it at that, hadn't we!


Caz said...

I don't care what sort of bloody tree it was, just tell me what happened to the three white leopards after the tree was logged.

Where did they sit?

Were they still white?

Were they happy without their tree?

Were they triplets?

Did they have some other, err, *arrangement* going on?

TimT said...

Salt water welled in their eyes.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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