Thursday, 4 October 2012

Stephen Fry Saved Me… Twice!

This week I have been reading The Fry Chronicles by the eponymous Stephen Fry. I’m not going to review it because, well, it was published two years ago and I think I’ve missed my window. Everything that could possibly be written about it has been written and in far fluffier prose than I could muster with a mouth full of tissue (this isn’t a metaphor; I’ve just been to the dentist – See My Dentist Thinks I’m a Car – and I’m starting to wonder if my tooth mechanic is trying to see just how many teeth he can extract before I start to question his motives). Needless to say, I enjoyed the second instalment of Stephen Fry’s biographical offerings and would highly recommend it. So, why did it take me two years to get around to reading it?

Let me put this in context. I loooved Moab is my Washpot, his early memoir. In fact, I believe that it saved some part of me from shrivelling into the folds of self-shame and disappearing. Here is a book about a young boy becoming a young man whose adolescent wrestling match with himself took him all the way to a young offenders’ institute. There was his genius to cope with (not something I’ve been particularly troubled by), his awkwardness, his compulsion towards mischief, and his sexuality. This was a mixed-up kid, but Stephen Fry the Elder looks back with a soothing message for his former self and for readers.
‘It’s alright!’ he simply states (I’m paraphrasing, of course; why use two words when there is whole thesaurus at hand). ‘It’s alright! Whatever you are, whatever you do, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, it’s going to be alright.’ A simple message, but in the context of a battle with self and sexuality, it was a message that I needed to hear.

I remember word of The Fry Chronicles unleashing itself onto the world two years ago; I put up links on Facebook around the time of my birthday, hoping that an odd sister or aunt might take the hint, and when it didn’t materialise, I resolved to treat myself. Then what happened? Well, it fell out of my head. Two years on and I see a copy in a charity shop. To be honest, as a bestseller, it is a staple of charity shop shelves, but seeing it this time caused a little ripple of excitement. How was the kid getting on at Cambridge and then in the big wide world? How had he become the sumptuous national treasure that we know and love? More importantly, what was his message for me this time and was I ready to hear it? Perhaps I wasn’t two years ago. Perhaps I would have read it with all of the openness of a child being dragged to hear the bla-bla-bla-ness of Sunday mass on a rainy October morning. Isn’t that the way with life? There is a time for everything. This much is obvious, but what is more difficult to understand is that, as human creatures hopping on the burning embers of day-to-day life and wondering where it all might lead, we instinctively stumble upon the information that we most need at just the right time. There is no logic to explain this magic (although the Law of Attraction could sign its name below the miracle). The subconscious is such that at just the exact point that we need to know something (sometimes for our emotional survival) and are capable of absorbing the information, it knocks on the door like an intuitive friend. I’ve been in doctors’ surgeries and found the most apt articles in magazines that I wouldn’t normally touch, speaking directly to me; I’ve bought books because of their interesting titles, not knowing that the information inside was personalised to my specific needs; I’ve turned on the TV at the exact point that a documentary was answering some of the most pressing questions pestering my soul; I read The Fry Chronicles and Stephen Fry saved a part of me for the second time. Not only did he give me something to write about in this week’s blog, but his reassurances have held my hand through these seven days. I’m not quite as candid as Stephen Fry to openly reveal my inner-most revelations publicly, but I thank him for steering me in the right direction and I thank the universe for never disappointing me.

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