ONE night, last week, I was asked what inspires me.
Or, rather, I was asked if I would answer the question what inspires me; and, because it’s only ever the moment I start speaking I realise I have nothing to say, I agreed; and, then, before you could utter wait-this-isn’t-going-online-is-it some guy was pointing a camera at me asking: ‘so, what inspires you?’
And I’m standing there, trying to overcome the worry of whether my combover is holding up, while wishing I could think up some chin-stroking, world-changing, philosophy-defining answer.
But I can’t.
So I say Carrion by British Sea Power because, eeh, it’s a right lovely song and when I first heard it...blah blah blah...and the guy’s eyes are glazing over, and, as I walk away afterwards, I’m aware the talking clock could have given a better reply.
And ever since I’ve wondered: ‘Well, what should I have said?’
I’ll tell you what: a nicely constructed sentence.
That inspires me. A bunch of words written well. There’s nothing more beautiful than that. There’s nothing I like better.
I could have said a bunch of books, which would have been pretentious but true. The Bridge Of San Luis Rey, The Old Man And The Sea, The Adventures Of Tintin. I could have said Tintin himself.
During a job interview an editor once asked which journalist I most admired and I said the boy reporter. He travelled the world, had a great quiff, and only ever filed one story. Good life, that. I got the job.
HP Sauce inspires me. Something that tastes that nice is proof existence isn’t futile. See also: Dijon mustard and Henderson’s. Condiments in general, really.
More stuff? That line from Star Wars: A long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Magnificent. When I stumble on that on ITV2 on a Sunday afternoon, I still feel the shiver of a six-year-old’s excitement. I know my afternoon has gone.
People who help others, too. Is that cheesy? Probably, but true. Charity volunteers, aid helpers, carers. My gran cared for my granddad for the last five years of his life. After he died, after the funeral, she slept for 22 hours straight. When she woke up, she put Terry Wogan on and had a cup of tea.
Those people the same age as my gran who email me. You’re using technology that didn’t exist until you were 70. I struggle with mobiles. How do you do it?
And Carrion too. Yeah, it’s just a pop ditty but it’s a more beautiful thing than a mere mortal should be capable of creating. Heroin as well. The song by The Velvet Underground, that is. Same applies to anything by The Strokes.
A girl in a Strokes T-shirt.
The girl I once saw wearing a Paul McGrath top. Paul McGrath. George Best. Zinedine Zidane. Zinedine Zidane head butting Marco Materazzi.
The English sea. Grey and cold. And English seaside towns. Glory-less now but grand. Maybe we’ll live there one day, I say. She never answers.
A cup of tea. Maybe above all else, a cup of tea. The British Empire was built on a good brew and so is every day of my life.
There are more too. Mainly this is just some stuff I like, listed in a way I like.
How can you say what inspires you in soundbites?
How can you sum it up?
Perhaps simply that some day you should be content?