Continuing on in an apparent series of Lists of 5 Random Things In My Head in a shoddy Blogging 101 exercise I didn’t know I was doing, and certainly wasn’t doing on purpose, here is a list of 5 people who exist in real life, who perhaps would be better off existing only in fiction (either for their benefit, or for ours).
Off we go, then. Hopefully, this series is going to end quite soon.
1. Modern-Day Royals
Be they English, Dutch, Japanese or Spanish; young, middle-aged, disappointingly childless or thanklessly fertile; staggeringly well-dressed, elaborately coiffed or resolutely spendthrift; of ancient lineage, common as muck, faded of grandeur or suspiciously rich – the chances of a happy ending, these days, even with their very best behaviour, are terrible.
However, if the Duchess of Cambridge or the Somethings of Monaco were in a book, we could at least ogle their couture and their headlines in peace, without that uncomfortable and voyeuristic foreboding of scandals to come. It might also make for better reading in general.
2. The Smiley But Smelly Woman On My Bus Home
Some people look ordinary. Some people, on the other hand, scream STORY. The septuagenarian who is frequently on my bus home from work is one such person. She has a sleek bob, a slim figure, a broad smile and one of the most singularly unpleasant odours of anyone I have ever come across.
When not immediately within her olfactory dance space, it can be fun to watch the conflicting emotions cross the faces of her fellow commuters. They are torn between revulsion and an acute self-loathing, that they could abhor someone as seemingly vulnerable and sweet as the little old lady who smells as if her clothes haven’t been washed since 1978.
But, when safely out of the way, my mind becomes preoccupied with the story of her life. Some days, she is a former concert pianist. On others, she is a fallen heiress who is not only aware of the way she smells, but actively cultivates it, enjoying people’s reactions. Sometimes, she is an embittered ex-headmistress who retired in a scandal involving the young French teacher and the young French teacher’s husband. The prospects are endless.
3. American Reality TV Stars
When did it become acceptable to be more ridiculous in real life than in fiction? If I were to make up any of these cretinous excuses for humanity for a book, I would be ridiculed and rejected for my inability to construct a believable narrative. And yet. There you are.Embed from Getty Images
4. Taxi Drivers
Anyone who has ever passed through Dublin will tell you who really runs the country.
Not only do they have a better economic strategy than successive Ministers for Finance, they also fulfil the roles of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Health, Sport, Arts, Culture, Tourism, and Justice. They also control the media and the country’s PR.
A recent senior ranking deity from the head office of my financial institution was given a rundown of everything wrong with this country, and why it is permanently fecked, in one unnecessarily long journey from the airport to the board meeting of the Irish branch.
And yet, there are still conspiracy theorists out there writing reams about the world domination plans of the Illuminati, Bilderbergers, the entire Middle East and the feminist movement, when all along they should have been writing about TAXI DRIVERS. Talk about misguided.
Think about it. You know what I mean.
That’s it. I’m off to get lists of 5 things surgically removed from my fingers. They’re becoming a dirty habit.
Sweet! First Jazzfeathers gives me “Eight Sentence Sunday,” and now Tara coughs up The Terrible Fives. I have already posted an “Eight Sentence Wednesday” on my own blog; the test of my discipline will be whether I can avoid starting one of these “Five” series. Boy, these things really do cross-pollinate each other, don’t they?
They do. The unfortunate thing is that it’s addictive. You think: hey, isn’t it odd that blah is blah… (in a bad version of stand-up comedy. Sit-down comedy, perhaps) and next thing you know, there are X more things that strike you as odd, being blah. It’s a short road to blogging ruin…
Strangely enough I am just trying to work out my lesson plans for creating characters and this appeared on my screen. Talk about serendipity. Aren’t we all too silly to be real? Although you have a point with the reality show people. And Tom Cruise of course. And then there’s that bloke who wept all over Nicole Sherzything in the X Factor, and most politicians, and that woman I used to work for who did (apparently) X rated things with marmalade, and the lady in a wheelchair who gets unsuspecting tourists to push her up and down the Holland Road in London….
Nicole Sherzything is her own case in point. And I can see that you really should be extending your own list, extensively. But your comment about the marmalade, Elaine. That’s made my mind open up and clamp shut in an awfully painful way, and I’m not sure there’s a pill for it.
Loved this! I must admit though, I do love the Royal Family (the British one, that is). Well, to clarify: I love the history of the monarchy. So I’m amazed by the current monarchs only because they share blood with some of the most badass characters in European history. And some of their life stories are indeed stranger than fiction.
Agreed – I don’t mind the British royal family at all. In fact, they have my sympathies. Wouldn’t want to be ya, etc. Which is why I think they’d be far better off in a dimension where happy endings were even possible!
Ha! Smily Smelly Lady sounds like a hot mess indeed. It always amazes me that someone can take such time and care with their appearance and yet stink. Baffling!
To be fair, her coat would have been lovely once – possibly 1967 – which was also possibly the last time it had been cleaned. And we’re not going to even talk about the sandals-in-summer episode. Oh dear. I just did 😦
I loved Smelly Lady, and in fact went into a wild imagining of who she might be, picturing her as she was 40 years ago, how she got to be where she is now, just as Tara did. You must have written a scene with her somewhere, right? Doesn’t she inspire you to put her in your fiction? If you don’t, I might steal her and put her in mine.
Oh yes, Smelly Lady: to not be near her is to love her, or the idea of her in any event. You may by all means steal her, MF. The prospects for Smelly Lady are endless – at the very least, too wide to be constrained by the imaginings of merely one person 😉
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Excellent concept Tara. There are a few people I deal with who would qualify for being fictional, except their characters would not be credible in the world of unreality.
Yes indeed. For a writer, it’s a terrible kick in the pants to have truth stranger than fiction. What we really need are Plausibility Police, who can arrest anybody who is being too ridiculous, or famous for no reason.
On a serious note, I have come across a couple of people who’s lives have been so tragic and distressed as to be unbelievable in fiction. Sad, but true.
Yes, even I wouldn’t want to laugh at that… in fact, around two years ago my own life read like a bad serialised magazine story. I still don’t believe any of it but apparently it was all true.
This struck a lot of chords with me, plus giving me some great pointers – I feel I know smelly lady, or her brother, personally. I have been frustrated in the past by really good ideas, derived from real events, that I cannot use because no one would ever believe them (and I have a relatively undramatic life). On the other hand, I was once accused by a reading group of using a family they all knew (total strangers to me) as the basis for my novel.
I loved this, think you are right to be fearful of the numbers game, I now swiftly ditch the posts of one ’10 things/places/events that…’ blogger.
I’m sure I’ll be unable to avoid lists completely, but I might have to stop using numbers in post titles, like I’m a Redditor gone wrong!
I was watching something on TV recently which made a completely believable plot into something unbelievable, because they didn’t foreshadow it properly. They also overexplained some parts and underexplained others. It’s a tough exercise, but all in the execution. The best zany stuff I’ve read works, I think, simply by having engaging and well-drawn characters accept things to be true.
Royals and reality TV ‘stars’ suck reasoning from our minds. Why so many are obsessed by their antics I can only guess. In Scotland there is a strong strand of republicanism, but whether that will increase is anyone’s guess. Republicanism seems to come in waves. Perhaps the next is gathering on the horizon waiting to roll in. Meanwhile many people have just switched off TVs in disgust. The internet is much more informative and amusing.
Many years ago we had a long running programme on television called Spitting Images. Hilariously mobile puppets portrayed high profile people, mercilessly lampooning them. In effect, that made them like characters in a comic novel rather than real live people, though it did have an effect on many reputations. Satire is a powerful weapon.
I hate to admit it, but I have a terrible liking for looking at pretty things. I find myself looking at really dreadful reality TV and brain-dead magazine articles because some overriding portion of my brain is saying “Lookit! Pretty Coat! Pretty make-up! Lookit!” I think both royalty and reality so-called celebrities both fall in to that camp. But I’m not proud of it.
And satire is indeed a powerful weapon. I miss Spitting Image. It was genius. And so close to the mark sometimes I now forget what was real, and what was one of their sketches. 🙂
Anyone “famous for being famous” while doing nothing noticeable. Newspapers seem to be full of them.
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Yes, just like reality TV stars – I’d classify all of these in the same bunch. Famous for selling their bland and empty lives. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t seem to enjoy it!