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I'm an Irish guy living in France. I like music, books, creative writing, art, history, vegetarianism, people, and chocolate.

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Wednesday 13 May 2009


Stories. That's one thing I couldn't do without. Like music, wine and chocolate.
In fact, it's probably something noone can do without. Stories are everywhere. In the films we see at the cinema, in the soaps we watch on the telly. The best songs are stories put to music—or music put to a story. Paintings often bring stories to life. Why is Mona Lisa smiling ? What happened to Van Gogh's ear ? What was Piet Mondrian trying to put in order, with his rigid perpendicular lines and sober squares ?

Advertisers are aware of our interest in stories. Brands like to pretend that they are several decades or even several centuries old, and often on the packages of their products you can read their "story". One of the most important trends in clothing and decorating is the "vintage look": clothes and objects have to tell a story or at least have a hi

Oral storytelling is probably as old as humanity itself, and every culture's mythologies are based on stories—more so than theology. History is boring when it's presented as a list of dates, intriguing when it tells the
story of the people that lived ten, a hundred, a thousand years ago. Philosophy, religion and science become dogmatic when they concentrate on the particulars and forget the story.

Heck, we all like to have some amount of drama going in our own,
real lives ; we all want to have a story to tell.

It was my grandfather who first introduced me to the world of stories. I remember him sitting in his old dark green armchair, resting his hands on his generous belly. I would sit facing him, on the sofa, my toes barely touching the floor, looking out of the window at the semi-detached red brick houses which surrounded the street. The only way you could tell them apart was by looking at the drain pipes, which hugged the walls like ivy: they were all painted in different colours. Brown, blue, green, yellow, white, red. Granny would come in to the living room, bringing me a cup of fresh milk and a plate with a buttered scone or a jam bun. Grampa would only get a cup of tea. He would give Granny a sad puppy dog look, but she would never yield. He, however, would always get a bar of chocolate or a biscuit from somewhere—he must have had a hidden stash. He would give me one, take a bite of his an say: "Well-now." Then his story would begin. About musketeers, with their swords, capes, and moustaches. About pirates, with their eye-patches, parrots, and panache. He would tell me about James Bond—his gadgets, his girls, his martini—when I was still too young to be allowed to watch the films. Sometimes he would tell me one of his own stories: as a boy scout he had slept in a haunted castle and heard the banshee scream ; he had come across the terrible pooka-horse when cycling down the small Irish country roads as a young man, and it had made him ride into a dung hill in a field ; he had seen a faerie in the isle of Man and had caught a glimpse of a leprechaun in his own garden.
Grampa's stories sent be back in forth in time, they took me all over the world. They taught me how to daydream, how to fantasise, how to develop a rich inner life. They set my head firmly in the clouds. I've never come down since.

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