There are people you come across, and friends that you know, who are just great a telling stories. Stories so big, so fantastical, that it doesn’t matter if they are true or not. I certainly don’t class myself as one of these people, and I will come to this in my next post.
I think I’ve met just a handful of good story tellers throughout my life, and they are always a pleasure to listen to. I first started work when I was 13. I had a Saturday job in my next door neighbours car body repair shop. I was the youngest person there by at least 7 years, so everyone else seemed like men of the world. They used to all take a break at the same time, and all sit together talking. This was before the smoking ban, before mobile phones, these men had to entertain each other. There lives were far removed from mine. They could drive, go to the pub, entertain the ladies. Everything to me was a story, but all they were doing was telling the others what they had been up to. In hindsight, I was probably a little spoiled by this and it shaped my expectations as to what to expect.
The next working environment, would turn about to be the one I had my first proper job in. I knew one person there, but we couldn’t always have a break at the same time, and because there were shifts you could end up on break sat on your own in a windowless room. After a few years a guy came to work there, let’s call him Mikey, and he loved to talk and tell you what he had been up to. Which whilst it was entertaining, it all sounded made up. In fact, Mikey, for the most part just came across as a liar. Now I had made friends with someone else at work, let’s call him Robert, but they had left and moved away. We stayed in touch, and whenever I could we would meet up. It was at this point that Robert would tell me what had been up to, and these big long stories would develop. They sounded completely, ridiculous, some of them could not possibly be true, but at no point did he ever come across as being a liar. It seems to come down to the way he sold them, and the fact that he was coming across like he believed what he was saying, and that his own story was entertaining him. It was after one such weekend when Robert had told me a story, that just can’t have been true, about him trying to ride a swan, that I went back to work and realised what the difference was between him and Mikey. When Mikey told you a story, he looked like he almost expected you not to believe it. Not only that, but he didn’t look like he believed it himself. It was pretty much passionless.
Over the years Roberts stories got bigger, and more outlandish. Truth be told, I’d started to not believe any of them. That however, did not matter in the slightest. They were always really funny, and hugely entertaining. Little did I know, that this would all come to change one night when Robert came to stay with me and we went out into to town.
I had been to the bar and come back to find Robert telling one of my friends a story. He sounded like he was a fair way through it, I hadn’t the faintest idea what he was talking about, so I started talking to someone else. I was stood pretty close to Robert though, so every now and again I heard snippets of the tall tale he was telling. However, then he said something that I recognised. At first I thought he was telling a story he’d told before. He wasn’t. I broke off my own conversation and listened in. Then it dawned on me. The ridiculous story he was telling, was about me. Moreover, it was true. It sounded as extraordinary as all his stories, but it was all true. Which I then went on to take that all of his preposterous stories were real. This changed everything. And I think over the years it has inspired me to do some pretty stupid things just so that I’ve had a funny story to tell.
To be continued…