At my secondary school, a few years ago, “random” was the thing to be. Overnight, whole swathes of teens became “random” and “kooky“; watched the Mighty Boosh; wore colourful socks, and forced the word “cheese” into ill-fitting contexts. It was a veritable blunderbuss of unconventionalism. (I mock with affection, and not to elevate myself: I was earnestly mimicking Richey Edwards in all ways but one.) There’s a touch of this in Martin Howard’s genial ode to eccentricity. He ends with suggestions for nurturing one’s “eccentric tendencies” – “teaching your dog to talk” – but surely yer true, bonafide oddballs never sought to achieve such a grand distinction? It’s a bit like claiming the mantle of unselfconsciousness! Eccentrics, according to Howard, “tend to be cheerful souls“. We could bicker and argue about the term “tend“, but yer Sellers an’ Milligans, Kubricks and Cooks were hardly alight with good cheer. The glory of mavericks is that they’re so out of place we can’t pen ‘em in. Then again, I’m just bitter ‘cos I’m so pathetically dull-minded. Someone leave a comment, please - I need an act to follow.

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