What did the earwig say as it leapt off the wall?

Some time ago, Rick Tastic asked me who influenced my writing style.

I mentioned Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Jack Womack, Jerome K. Jerome and, to a lesser extent, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker … maybe even a tiny hint of Pat Cadigan and Ursula Le Guin.

At the time, I didn’t consider all the possible ways in which a writing style might evolve beyond the … I’m not quite sure how to phrase it and maybe that’s the very issue at hand: not every aspect of someone’s writing style is necessarily the result of a literary influence and so it is, by definition, difficult to put into words what it is when it, as it were, isn’t.

I read Pierre Daninos’ Les Carnets du Major Thompson in the original French, so, it didn’t occur to me that it would have had an influence on my writing in English but, looking back on it, I think it really did — subtly, perhaps, but definitely adding a little extra nudge to the direction of travel ¹.

Similarly, I didn’t consider non-literary influences but, long before I got into Pratchett, there was something else that, in its way, was highly influential — it had a huge influence upon the rambling/anecdotal/shaggy-dog-story style of writing that was, later, further influenced by Adams/Pratchett (full of asides, tangents and irrelevancies intended to distract you, lead you astray and soften you up in preparation for the punchline).

Although I only thought to try and track it down today (I’ve barely even remembered it over the intervening years), I’ve never forgotten the bits from 9'39" to 10'17" and from 18'43" to 18'48".

Thanks to the fact that linking to Youtube via Medium invariably results in the clip in question being removed almost before I’ve even published the story, I daren’t link directly, so you’ll need to copy and paste it into your broser’s URI/URL box in two steps:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/
  2. watch?v=-B6fZPRNGHg

For some reason … I don’t know why ² … I think Stephen M. Tomic should watch it.

Arona Jones ²⁷ and SouthpawPoet ²⁹ definitely should.


¹ Much like Adams’ “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t”, Daninos’ « Les nombreux sports en marge desquels j’ai poursuivi mes études (sans jamais avoir l’impression de les atteindre) ne m’ont pas développé plus qu’ils ne le font de coutume avec mes concitoyens » makes use of the absence of something, or of its opposite, to accentuate its prominence.

² It might be entirely inappropriate … or, at least, not terribly relevant anyway. ³

³ I mean, it’s not like there’s anything inappropriate about it … not as such.²⁶

⁴ No people-trafficking or pimping of unsuspecting waifs or anything like that.

⁵ Not that either of those things would trouble Le Patron in any way , but you take my point.

⁶ Not given that it’s pretty much an established fact that’s how he makes his income under cover of the guise of ‘international writer/photographer/raporteur’.

⁷ Which may be because he’s adopted and nobody loves him, so he doesn’t relate to others in a normal, human manner but rather has no compunction in using them and abusing them as if they were merely objects.

⁸ The fact that it’s almost a certainty that his income is derived from the buying and selling of human beings, I mean … not that he uses the guise of ‘international writer/photographer/raporteur’ as a cover for his clandestine activities. ¹⁰

¹⁰ I don’t think there’s any kind of direct relationship between being adopted (let lone an evil, twisted profiteer from human misery and degradation) and being an ‘international writer/photographer/raporteur’. ¹¹

¹¹ Not specifically. ¹²

¹² No more than there is between being a cold-hearted sociopath and an international haulier. ¹³

¹³ Like Erik, say. ¹⁴

¹⁴ Not that I’m suggesting he (Erik) is a people-trafficker ¹⁵.

¹⁵ Or a cold-hearted sociopath ¹⁶.

¹⁶ Although … now I come to think about it … I don’t recall his outright refusing me the pleasure of his sister’s company (as it were) ¹⁷ … more sort of intimating that any such transactional relationship between his sister and me wasn’t going to happen as a result of his pimping her out to me ²³.

¹⁷ He’s Dutch though, so, selling his sister ¹⁸ to me wouldn’t be quite as indicative of a Cluster B personality disorder as it would be of someone from another nation ¹⁹.

¹⁸ Or even his mother.

¹⁹ Not unless all Dutch people have Antisocial Personality Disorder anyway ²⁰.

²⁰ But I digress ²¹.

²¹ Which isn’t all that unusual really ²², but you get the point.

²² I am, after all, wont to do so.

²³ I think he might be scared of her ²⁴.

²⁴ Who knows … even though she’s a woman, she might even be el capo dei capi. ²⁵

²⁵ Stephen’s boss even? Or ‘business’ partner perhaps?

²⁶ Apropos of which … for goodness’ sake, people, stop using ‘as such’ to mean ‘therefore’ — that’s not what it means!

²⁷ You could get through an entire Philosophy tutorial that way. ²⁸

²⁸ It’s not like anyone else was even gonna listen to, let alone understand, anything sensible anyway.

²⁸ It’ll be good practice for perfecting her Irish.

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There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die.

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