Posts Tagged ‘Death by Pigeon’
Thanks for all your comments on my last blog. Really interesting to hear all your opinions on the issue.
But we don’t care about that – WHO WANTS MORE IDIOTS?
The first is one I should’ve uploaded weeks ago, but you know how it is: one moment you’re ready to update your blog, the very next your rampaging through another dimension on the back of a white pegasus, tracking down the evil Lord Chaos before he unleashes his Oblivion Amulet. Or something.
OlDWIF BOLEM – All Saints C of E Primary School, Winchester
There’s an awful lot going on here with Oldwif, and being that the event was almost two weeks ago (shame on me) I may have forgotten some of the details. But here’s the crux: Oldwif (bottom left, riding a horse) is a veteran secret agent, who’s tracked down some sort of evil cowboy bank robber (top right, riding a cow). Oldwif is on Her Majesty’s Secret Service, reclaiming a stack of gold ingots that the evil cowboy has stolen from a bank. But alas! When he finds the gold he finds the cowboy’s been chewing it like tobacco and spitting it into a golden spittoon. Never beaten, Oldwif stuffed as much of the golden spit into his pocket as he could fit and rode off on his tiny horse. What follows is a high-speed chase worthy of the bestest Western in history, only one of them’s riding a cow and he’s shooting at Oldwif with a spit gun. What an adventure!
(Kids of All Saints – have I missed anything? Tell me in the comments below.)
LOSSANA SHOE-MUFFIN – Oliver’s Battery Primary School
Lossana found a tiny purple elephant in a pile of washing one day, and took it for her own. Soon she discovered that the elephant produced an incredible quantity of earwax, the likes of which she’d never tasted. Not only did it bake into delicious cookies, it also could roll into yarn to knit socks, squidge down into hair gel and be used as the fuse for a giant sticky bomb, or something. Soon Lossana developed her own Elephant-Earwax range of products, selling them outside her house on the weekends. She’s also developing an earwax voodoo-doll to rid herself of her annoying husband, while trying to breed more elephants with the earwax they create. Finally, you may notice she’s only wearing one sock. That’s because the elephant uses the other as a sleeping bag.
Well, that’s all I’ve got until tomorrow. Bet you can’t wait!
Everybody reading this blog is a massive idiot. Every single one. Insulted? Read on…
I don’t normally put anything serious on this blog, but events this week have been making me think. OK, so Ricky Gervais likes being controversial. It’s a thing many comedians do, on purpose of course, in order to be discussed. But Gervais’ latest escapade has been getting more attention than most: by using his twitter account and his latest live show to try to reclaim a word that’s been used for years as derogatory and insulting, and use it as an insult.
I don’t think it’s important to say what the word is here. He might as well have used any word that started its life with negative meaning. He might as well have used ‘idiot’.
My book is full of the word ‘idiot’. It’s almost on every page. The difference in my view is that I’ve reclaimed the word to mean something positive. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.
I’ve visited about thirty schools since April. Every time I ask “What does the word ‘idiot’ mean to you”? “Stupid,” children say, or “forgetful” or “clumsy” or “silly” or once even “an incompetent fool”. They’re right, in a sense. The word started in Ancient Greece as ‘person lacking professional skill’ before meaning ‘uneducated or ignorant’ in Middle English. It’s true – the word ‘idiot’ can quite easily be used negatively.
But then there’s that time your mum spills her tea on the carpet, or when your friend forgets his coat on a cold day. “Oh, you idiot!” you can say, smiling. In this case are you actually saying ‘You are an uneducated and ignorant person’? Of course not. You mean, ‘You make mistakes, but I love you for it.’ You mean ‘We can both see the fault in what you just did.’ Calling someone an idiot can be a term of endearment – it’s a way of embracing failures.
I’m an idiot. I’ll come out and say it.
I AM AN IDIOT!
I can list off a million idiotic things I’ve done without breaking sweat. I’ve walked into a lamp post and said sorry, I’ve put the phone in the fridge after using it, at school I called my teacher ‘mum’ so many times even she started to believe it. But who can truly say they’ve not mucked up once or twice?None of us are perfect, but some of us pretend to be. There are people who are embarrassed by their mistakes, who hide them and cover them up, who think anything less than perfection is a disgrace. Those people are silly. And i mean that in a bad way.
We are judged by what makes us different, and that includes the bad things. For example: I’m terribly forgetful. It’s a fact. No matter how many techniques I try, you can bank on me leaving the house without my keys or my wallet or my shoes. Now I can let that hang over my head like an embarrassing smell, or I can take pride in it! “THIS IS ME!” I can shout, “THE GOOD BITS AND THE BAD!” And if people look at me oddly, I’ll just start shouting louder, and waving around those massive foam hands that they used to have on Gladiators.
If we take pride in our shortcomings, embrace what makes us different, we’re immune to name-calling and bullying. We can finally be honest with ourselves and isolate those bits that might need a little polishing. And that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be better – of course we should! But we can bear in mind that we can never be perfect, and it’s a waste of time to try.
So we’re all idiots, in that none of us is perfect. But that’s a good thing! Not only does it give us something to strive towards, it gives us something to measure ourselves by.
My book takes place in a village of idiots, the village of Corne-on-the-Kobb. But this place is wonderful! The only person who thinks he’s not an idiot, Casper Candlewacks, ends up becoming one in order to save the day! And I don’t mean ridding himself of brain cells, I mean ridding himself of that seriousness and snore-inducing self-respect that everybody seems to have nowadays. And do you know what? That’s BRILLIANT.
Now…compare this with Ricky Gervais. A word that has been used to describe disabled people has now been changed to describe people he doesn’t like. Can you see the difference between this and my reclaiming of ‘idiot’? You can’t reclaim a word only to use it in the same way. Not only will it NEVER rid itself of the original meaning, it’ll insult so many people that it’s just not worth it. I know Gervais is partially doing this just to be contraversial, but he knows full-well what he’s doing. It’s hurtful and futile, and it wrongly colours the marvellous progression of language that lets ‘idiot’ be used in an endearing way.
So what do you think? I want your honest feedback about this. Am I wrong in using the word ‘idiot’? Is Ricky Gervais justified in what he’s doing? Are my attempt and his attempt really all that different? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter, @ivanbrett.
***addendum*** As noted by @smartestgiant, I spelt ‘controversial’ wrong in this post. I’ll leave it though, to prove that I’m OK with not being perfect.
Hi, Internet. Can you hear me?
I don’t know how this thing works, really. We don’t get fancy things like computers or microwaves in Corne-on-the-Kobb. In my house we only get electricity because Lamp built a rod that catches all the lightning and saves it all up for when it gets dark.
Anyway, my name’s Casper Candlewacks, I’m eleven years old and some strange man with floppy hair has just given me a sheet of paper with questions on it and asked me to give some answers. While I speak he’s tapping away at a tappy thing and the words I’m saying are popping up on the screen. Like this. And this. Will you just write anything I say? BLAAAH. POTTED WEASELS. THE FLOPPY-HAIRED MAN IS AN IDIOT. HE LOOKS STUPID WHEN HE TAPS ON HIS TAPPY THING. Ah, this will never get old.
OK, so I’d better answer your questions:
“Is your mum an idiot? And your dad too?” - anon, from Bigland Green
They’re both idiots, yeah. In their own way. Mum watches a lot of TV, and I mean a LOT. She only ever gets up off the sofa during the weather reports, and that’s only because she never goes outside. You know those shows that come on at lunchtime that you only see when you’re ill, about knitting or watercolours, and you wonder who ever watches them? Yeah, it’s my mum. My dad’s a chef. Well, he calls himself a chef, but if he is then so’s anybody who can start a fire in a frying pan. Once he burnt my ice cream. How do you even do that?
“Where would you like to go for your summer holiday?” - Emma
I’ve never been abroad. I heard there were tigers. I’d quite like Scotland because they catch and eat this animal called a ‘Haggis’. I don’t know anything more about the ‘Haggis’ though, and what I do know was told to me by Mitch McMassive who you shouldn’t trust really. Once he told me that birds fly south in winter because there’s a 50% sale off spare beaks every christmas in France.
“Casper, how do you run away from a tiger?” - Jake
Don’t know…I’ve never been abroad. I hope you didn’t need the answer urgently though. Well, my guess is you sprint as fast as you can towards the nearest paint shop. Buy a tin of orange paint and a tin of black. Then paint yourself in stripes and roar a bit. Hopefully the tiger will make friends with you instead. If this doesn’t work, learn to fly. Tigers can’t fly.
“Was it fun driving the Bubbel Buggy?” - Will
It was terrifying! After a while you get used to the popping sensation and it’s really good fun, but it doesn’t half shake your bum. Lamp doesn’t believe in suspension, you see. He said “If I wanted suspension, I would’ve made it float.” I couldn’t sit down properly for a week.
“Do you like swimming?” - William
Ooh no. We don’t have a pool in Corne-on-the-Kobb, but we do have the river Kobb. It’s frrrrrreezing and full of sharks.
“What does B.A.D. stand for?” - Kai
Beavers Are Dirty. It’s true as well. Once, as a punishment, I had to clean sixty beavers until they were sparkling. Took me three days (with lunch breaks).
“Have you ever been bitten by a pigeon?” – Anton
Yeah, and it hurt like mad. I got attacked by a whole man-pecking flock when The Great Tiramisu cursed the village. Tell you what, I’d rather clean a million beavers than be eaten by pigeons. Imagine your last thought as you slipped down its gullet being “Cor, pigeon’s breath doesn’t half stink!”
“How do you make a monkey laugh?” - Samuel
Print jokes on the skin of its bananas.
“How would you tame a man-eating pigeon?” - Rtvik
I wouldn’t. I’d just run far far away (or to the nearest paint shop for a tin of grey paint).
“When’s your birthday? And what would you like for your birthday present?”
It’s in April at some point, but neither of my parents remember when. So we just celebrate my birthday over the whole month. One day we have the cake, the next day we clear up the cake. One day Dad gets me a present (last year it was a bag of courgettes from the local shop), the next day I take it back to the shop and spend the money on sweets. As for what I want, if it’s a choice between courgettes and sweets then I’ll take the sweets.
I’m exhausted now! People don’t often ask questions in Corne-on-the-Kobb, and if they do they’ve normally wandered off before you can give a good answer. It was nice to chat, anyway.
(You can read all about Casper’s adventures in ‘Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon!’ by me, the floppy-haired typist, Ivan Brett. If you’re reading this in the future you should ride your hovercars to the nearest book shop and look out for his other adventures, ‘Casper Candlewacks in The Claws of Crime’ and ‘Casper Candlewacks in Attack of the Braniacs’. Enjoy!)