Friday, 29 February 2008

Princess Dead

I know that Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, was affectionately known as Princess Di while she was alive but we really shouldn't use that moniker now. Referring to her as "Princess Di" is too close to saying "Princess, Die", which is incredibly poor grammar. "Princess, Die" is future imperative; we should be using the simple past adjective: "Princess Dead".

But seriously, I just read an 'idea catcher' that mentioned writing about an historical event that occurred during my own lifetime and the death of Diana was the first one to spring to mind. It certainly had the most impact. I remember turning on the TV that Sunday morning and flipping in mild confusion between channels until it became obvious what had happened. Then the awful thought "Well the telly's gonna be rubbish all day" sprang to mind so I turned the TV off, put on some music and read a book.

About the same time I was a big fan of the drama 'Ballykissangel' which was in (I think) its second or third series. I hadn't seen the first one but I still got very drawn in to the lives of all the characters, especially the intensely frustrating unrequited love between Assumpta Fitzgerald and Father Peter Clifford. I was so absorbed by that little love story that I got very excited when Peter called Assumpta from the telephone box to confess his love for her and promise to renounce the priesthood to spend the rest of his life with her. Then, of course, I cried as though a relative had been run over when Assumpta died. It struck me immediately how ridiculous it was to be upset that a fictional character had died - after all, Dervla Kirwan is alive and well and earning good money providing the voice for the M&S 'food porn' adverts - but that's the effect good art can have on weaklings like me.

The disparity between the two events also became very clear - not really caring about a real wife/Mother/icon dying but blubbing like an eejit because someone I'd never met got paid to pretend to be dead for a minute or two. There's nothing truly surprising about it of course: it's a simple indication that I had a stronger emotional bond with the fictional character than with the real person. It's easy to see why so many of Arthur Canon Doyle's readers got so upset when he originally killed off Sherlock Holmes. It's even easy to see why people get addicted to watching soap operas, although I have little time for them myself. By the way, I do mean both the soap operas and the poor saps who watch them.

Now here lies the problem with trying to write something based on an 'idea-catcher': ordinarily I have a point to make, some information to disseminate or at least a minor personal story to tell. With this post I have nothing of the sort and therefore no useful way to conclude this. The end.

PS The great writer Ray Bradbury, giving advice to budding writers at a workshop, said the following: "The key is to write. A lot. If you write 52 articles a year I dare you to write 52 bad ones." I'm rather hoping I don't meet his challenge...

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