Saturday, 5 November 2011

Dr Ernid T. Learnid: the biography

Each time I see a new (auto)biography come out on some B-grade celebrity, I have a feeling a better book dies. Not in the same way as the classics commit suicide each time a young reader opens "Twilight", but a piece of literature dies all the same. And they always have some dull title such as "My Life". At least they could try and be clever, like David Attenborough calling his "Life on Air" in reference to his "Life" series of documentaries, for example "Life in Cold Blood". I am not interested in reading "My Life", whether it's the story of Bart Cummings, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee (seriously, what's with the cricketers?), Helen Keller, Bill Clinton, Jane Fonda, Leon Trotsky, Fidel Castro, Serena Williams, Brendan Sheerin (who?), Isadora Duncan or Magic Johnson. Admittedly Helen Keller's life sounded pretty interesting, but at least she had an excuse for an unoriginal title. I would assume that the others were also deaf and blind if they couldn't think of anything better, or that as they are not known for their literary skills, their editors could do better. Calling your memoirs "My Life", while accurate, is unoriginal and doesn't scream "read me". Not to mention there's really no way of trying to convince the reader it might actually be interesting. And some of these peoples' lives just don't sound interesting. Additionally, if I didn't have reason enough not to read Tony Blair's book, the title "A Journey" threw me off completely.

In light of this, I started thinking of what I would call my autobiography. As I have no doubt that nobody anywhere would want to read it, it would need a more creative title than the stories of the lives of others we don't have much curiosity for. Here are some of them:

- Description of a Struggle (Makes me sound like a genius for referencing Kafka, could also boost sales if mistaken for Kafka's work of the same name. Would need to be released after my death to avoid impending law suit)
- You Idiot (One my friend Danni came up with, but I'm not sure she'll ever read this)
- How to Take a Fall (Hints at my enjoyment of Elliott Smith's music, and also the fact that I fell off a building and lived to tell the tale)
- Gathering no Moss (I don't actually like this one, but an elderly gentleman suggested it to me after we swapped stories on a flight home from some far flung country and I don't want him to think I forgot)
- The Tales of Ernid the Bard (Makes me sound like a wonderful writer of folklore, if not a tragic Harry Pot-head)
- Things I Only Told my Mother About Afterwards (Well, that is most things. I'm no idiot. It's pretty much a way of saying "story of my life" without sounding like a total bore)
- Booksmart Devil (Wouldn't you want to read a book written by someone so described?)
- Let's Get out of This Country (Perhaps this should be travel stories, or stories to read while travelling)
- Your New Favourite Book (Everyone in the world would buy it)
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar (It would already have sold a trillion copies)

Now quick, go out and buy it before it sells out! It will certainly beat any book called "My Life".

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The burdens of being upright

If I were an animal, I think I would be a shark. Slinking around the ocean like the slinkies of the sea. And I do like slinkies. They are a lot like some people I know: pointless and useless, but they bring a smile to my face when I push them down the stairs.

Speaking of being pushed down stairs, a few months ago I had the displeasure of falling off a balcony. After dislocating my jaw, a fracture in my back, and breaking it in three places, and shattering all the bones in one arm, I began thinking I might prefer the life and style of an animal. Or an inanimate object. I soon ruled out the latter, however, after the realisation that the only object I would really like to be is a slinky, and this would not help me greatly when falling off balconies. And as I am already adept at picking myself up uninjured at the bottom of a staircase, my life as a slinky would be somewhat redundant.

But who ever heard of a shark falling off an eight metre high balcony? Not I, rabbi. So shark it will be.

Or at least it would, if the surgeons had asked my opinion before performing life-and-limb-saving surgery. Waking up thirty hours later with little memory of the previous day's events, the question burning on my lips was, naturally, to do with body modification. The nurse looked at me quizzically as my puffy face mumbled...

..."Am I going to get a hook?"
"No sweetie, your arm's still there."

At the time, I was rather pleased to still have four limbs. In fact, I still am. This is the second time in two years I have nearly lost an important appendage, and thanks to Dr Ringo at the hospital in Dar es Salaam and Dr Beard here in Sydney, my left arm and right leg remain, for the most part, in tact. However, thanks to many weeks musing while in hospital and the suggestions of some of my favourite friends, I am beginning to realise that precision surgery is rather limiting itself. I am naturally impressed the doctors managed to tape my body back together, and can't wait to go to the airport and set off metal detectors with my new titanium-enforced body. Nevertheless, I have some suggestions and even blueprints of ideas for further surgery I may need. The doc wants to do a bone graft, though I'm leaning somewhat towards a hook.

Unless you know Harry Potter (which I don't), it's impossible to transfigure your body into a shark (it's true, I looked it up). My dreams of becoming a shark, immune to balcony-related injuries the world over, have been quashed, and I'm looking for the next best thing. I had many theories as to how they patched me up in the hours following The Fall, including a very serious one about skin from my leg being put in my mouth. It was the most logical conclusion as I had a dressing on my leg and a mysterious flap of skin keeping my face together from the bottom lip down. I was seriously impressed, until I found out that skin grafts from leg to lip are just not done. Nevertheless, the nickname "Leg Lip" was inspired, and the term of endearment is sure to last many years to come. Thanks Amzzz.

Amzzz is also insistent that if and when I have a bone graft to my arm, the source bone comes from my butt. Determined that Bum Arm not become a myth like the fabled Leg Lip, I have a good mind to ask my surgeon if this is indeed possible. But the possibilities do not end there. If acquiring a hook is out of the question, I am adamant that the metal in my arm be refashioned in the shape of a gun. If one cannot be surgically modified to reflect a shark, a mock-terrorist might be fun. Or perhaps the metal in my arm could extend and shoot between my fingers, a la Wolverine.

Leg Lip, Bum Arm Wolvernid.

Alas, my next visit with the surgeon is five weeks away. My ingenious ideas shall have to wait until then, although I am keen to capitalise on this opportunity to draw up more thorough references. In the meantime, the dentist and his drills eagerly await the fast approaching chance to recreate my winning smile. The crooked grin, I can live with, but the hobo teeth are most unfortunate. No Janey, it does not make me look happy, it makes me look like a bogan. A bogan who can't win a fight. And has to use an infant toothbrush and carry their own supply of straws.

My body's awesome.