Oct. 11, 2002

Being Boring

by Wendy Cope

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Poem: "Being Boring," by Wendy Cope from If I Don't Know (Faber & Faber).

Being Boring

'May you live in interesting times,' Chinese curse

If you ask me 'What's new?', I have nothing to say
Except that the garden is growing.
I had a slight cold but it's better today.
I'm content with the way things are going.
Yes, he is the same as he usually is,
Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
I get on with my work. He gets on with his.
I know this is all very boring.

There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
Tears of passion-I've used up a tankful.
No news is good news, and long may it last.
If nothing much happens, I'm thankful.
A happier cabbage you never did see,
My vegetable spirits are soaring.
If you're after excitement, steer well clear of me.
I want to go on being boring.

I don't go to parties. Well, what are they for,
If you don't need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.
Someone to stay home with was all my desire
And, now that I've found a safe mooring,
I've just one ambition in life: I aspire
To go on and on being boring.

It was on this day in 1975 that television's Saturday Night Live made its debut with guest host George Carlin. The show was an experiment by NBC to create a showcase for young comedians.

It's the birthday of the American novelist Elmore Leonard, Jr. (also known as Emmett Long), born in New Orleans (1925). He was an advertising copywriter for the Campbell-Ewald Agency, a job he held for eleven years. Though he disliked copywriting, Leonard found time to do his own writing by rising at five a.m. "Sometimes I would write a little fiction at work, too," he told an interviewer. "I would write in my desk drawer and close the drawer if somebody came in." Intending to become a popular rather than a "literary" author, Leonard began to write Westerns, because he read them and he liked Western movies…Two of his westerns were sold to Hollywood: 3:10 to Yuma (starring Glenn Ford, 1957, Columbia) and The Tall T. A writer of westerns in the 1950s, who turned to the crime novel in the late 1960s, Elmore Leonard is noted for his extraordinary dialogue and quirky characters, though he admits that plotting is his weakness. He also admits to beginning his novels with only a basic situation and relationships between the characters, but "no idea how it will end." He said, "It isn't the words that are authentic but rather the rhythm of the way people talk." Leonard has said that he puts his characters through a sort of audition in the opening scenes, before he decides whether they will stay or go, to see if they can "talk." He noted: "I see my characters as being most important, how they bounce off one another, how they talk to teach other, and the plot just sort of comes along." He also said: "I try to leave out the parts that people skip."

It's the birthday of playwright, poet, and novelist Francois (Charles) Mauriac, born in Bordeaux (1885). In each of his works, Mauriac had a central character who struggled with problems of sin, grace, and salvation. He said: "Men resemble great deserted palaces: the owner occupies only a few rooms and has closed-off wings where he never ventures." He wrote Thérèse, The Knot of Vipers, La Pharisienne and The Desert of Love.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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