Belly rumbles and beyond
George G Clark, 26 January 2008
Martin Amis is a famous novelist and journalist. The University of Manchester is buying his services for £3000 per hour. The wages of wordsmithery catches up with fabulous football! So what is so valuable about stringing words together?
There are those of whom it might be said, "They open their mouths and let their bellies rumble". These are the neurotic motor-mouths who are an endless, flowing source of trivia and gossip. They are the chatter boxes who verbalise the dynamic churn of thoughts and feelings in their brain and who jump quickly from one topic to another. They are afflicted with verbal diarrhoea. Friends and family might be excused for wondering, "Do they never shut up".
In contrast there are those of whom it might be said, "I could listen to them all day". These are life's natural story tellers - the entertaining raconteurs who have a way with words. The finest of them are our poets, novelists, journalists and stand up comedians. The chosen few become well known as media talking heads. They have the gift of selecting items from the dynamic churn and making them into stories with a beginning, middle, end, and a tantalising twist.
Then there are the silent types of whom people wonder 'if the cat has got their tongue'. There are two flavours. Some are introverted and shy the blushing wallflowers and shrinking violets. Given a supportive environment they might morph into the other categories.
But there are also those of whom it might be said, "Still waters run deep". These are the silent, peaceful people who appear "comfortable in their own skin". They have mastered the art of stillness; they 'let go' their passing thoughts and feelings. These quiet souls appreciate that "the reality which can be described is not the real reality". They embody the ancient view that, "Those who speak do not know, and those who know do not speak". Quietly smiling.
So there are chatterboxes, story-tellers and quiet-souls. The University of Manchester's creative writing department has put a high price on the story-teller. What price the chatter box and the quiet-soul?
"Look wise, say nothing, and grunt. Speech was given to conceal thought." - Sir William Osler