Stories and the bastards who tell them.
It has been suggested to me by a number of well-meaning folk that I need to develop stories around my products and business – narratives that help to explain and contextualise what it is I’m doing and offering. Sequences of words and images that put together correctly become paths of common understanding that offer easy passage through the tangled undergrowth of my mysterious outputs.
I can see there is logic in this advice but there are dangers too. For stories – as marvellous as they can be – can also be structures that limit and even imprison us. They bind us to a time-based commitment often making unwelcome calls on our concentration and focus when we haven’t even bought a ticket. For instance this morning in the shower I became aware that my soap of choice is apparently “so tempting, even angels will fall for its heavenly masculinity”. It troubles me that someone wrote that and that I had to suffer reading it. This sort of bollocks-talk is everywhere now and surely we have a responsibility at the very least not to make the problem worse.
I find myself yearning for a time when it was possible to buy a loaf of bread without having to discover the inside-leg measurement of the artisan baker responsible and how he needs to be repeatedly tickled to achieve an even distribution of sesame seeds on his delicious baps. Am I alone in caring little for the detail that the flour arrived from Venezuela by speedboat that very morning? Does this make me bad person?
There’s a particular deli that I attended recently owned by the inevitable young and yummy couple (made of gingerbread I think) where I was subjected to exactly the same stories about exactly the same products as I had been the previous week. “This bread is made by the brother-in-law of Poldark’s cousin…blah blah blah.” In went on like this for a while until I noticed I had fallen asleep next to a horse.
I had revisited the shop a week later in the naïve expectation that the stories would be different or would have developed somewhat from the first time but this wasn’t the case and it was impossible to leave without hearing the whole thing out again. “Let the other customers go” I bravely suggested. “They’re just women and children for gods sake. Tell me about the Spanish Omelette. I want to hear to about it….”
Unfortunately no one got out of the shop without getting the whole production which is presumably why they have a bolt on the door. This kind of hostage situation is fast becoming the prevailing orthodoxy in such outlets where every product is weighed down by levels of significance not seen since Umberto Eco wrote The Name of the Rose.
“Its only a piece of bloody cheese”. I want to shout. “Just hand over the fucking cheese!”
So what I am saying about stories is that we seem to have travelled from a refreshing premise – that stories can inform and enliven our transactional activities – to a point where the idea has effectively wrestled control of the steering wheel and is so busy ransacking the glove compartment for Murray Mints it hasn’t noticed how sick everyone is feeling in the back seats.
Given that this is the unholy mess we find ourselves in, a world where a person can’t even enjoy a shower without being bedevilled by the most gruesome inanities, how must a good person be compelled to act? In this bloodbath of scrotal meaningless is it acceptable to pick up our guns and fire more bullets into the fray?
This is the mighty question we must ask ourselves. But not before I’ve written this one.