Sunday, 9 July 2017

A General Audience




The bloke sitting next to me at the corner of the bar is watching me writing. Then he says:
            ‘Don’t let me stop you, but thanks for letting me past earlier, I just had to sit myself down and they’ve taken all the stools away from the bar because of Sparkle weekend and everywhere’s so busy.
            ‘I notice you’re a writer. What kind of writer are you? Are you a playwright like I am? I’m writing a play and the concept behind it is something that’s never been done before, and everyone tells me there’s a reason for that, and that it can’t be done, but my mind works in such a way that I just think these things up and I can see how to do it. So that’s what I’m writing now. Do you write any particular thing? Do you have a particular audience in mind?
‘A what? A general audience? Yes, I don’t think that’s good enough, really. Me, I write for an intellectually clued-in and politically-savvy audience. A left-wing - a very left-wing - audience who feel the same way as I do about the world and politics. That’s who I write for.
            ‘Do you go to the theatre much? I went to this play upstairs at a pub in Salford and they said it was written by a woman who writes for the broadsheets and I thought, here we go, it’ll be esoteric and snooty. Luckily they let you take your pint in. Well, me, I never drink a whole pint, but I did that evening. Oh, here’s my polenta chips.
            ‘Here, excuse me! There’s no knife. Do you think I could have a knife, please? No, serve those others first. In your own time. I’ll just use this fork. I don’t mind.
            ‘So, I went up to this play and there were jokes but no one was laughing. One man laughed and it was the writer’s husband. He was laughing before the jokes were even said. He knew they were coming up. I went up to the writer afterwards and I asked, Who do you write for? Who do you think your audience is? And she said – wait for this – ‘I write for myself’ – and I thought, yes, lady, that’s your whole problem.
            ‘Me, I make sure I put at least four jokes into every play. And that keeps them happy. They usually get two of them and the other two generally sail over their heads. I find that you usually have to be a bit scatological, shall I say, in order to get your point across. Do you know what that means? Have you put any scatological jokes in what you’re writing in your book there?’
            And then, luckily, Jeremy arrived. I had an excuse to leave.

            Walking back to the car Jeremy says, ‘You can tell people you don’t want to talk to them, you know. You can say, I’m just sitting here quietly, trying to write. Please leave me alone.’




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