What I Saw On The Edge Of The Room

The new kid was there, effortlessly working the room. He told a joke and everyone laughed, and I laughed. He was nice, and I had no reason not to like him except that everyone liked him and they wouldn’t like me. I had been there years, but when I told a joke they pretended they couldn’t hear. I told it louder and their faces scrunched. I stopped talking and they pretended I didn’t exist. I decided I would take up less space on the edge of the room, with my eyes down. But there was a problem: The edges were already crowded with eyes looking down, trying not to exist too loudly. At first I was annoyed. Then I saw them.

Continue reading What I Saw On The Edge Of The Room

Googling Wisdom

Where I grew up we called the library “Fort Book” because it looked like it would stand up well in a siege. Inside, there were rows of filing cabinets housing the card catalogue – one card for each book, organised precisely in deep drawers. If I wanted to learn something, those cards were the indexes of knowledge. Now they’re gone. Now the catalogue cabinets of the world have squeezed themselves into a little bar at the top of the screen in my hand. Getting information has never been easier. No other era of history has had the power I carry in my little glowing rectangle. It’s overwhelming. And it’s easy to assume that having access to humanity’s storehouse of knowledge should make me wise. 

Continue reading Googling Wisdom

The Joke I Should Have Laughed At

Saying that I knew it all along was a lie, and they knew it. Saying that I was just playing along didn’t stop their eyes from laughing at me. I would have laughed, too, if I were them. I should have laughed, too, with them. I don’t know where my neighbour got the iron pyrite, all I know is the story they told me about finding it in the woods and do you think there’s more and will we all be rich? I’d never seen gold ore before, but it certainly looked the part. I was old enough to know the stories about children finding treasure, and young enough to forget that I was a fool. 

Continue reading The Joke I Should Have Laughed At

The Day The Phone Rang Out

The phone was ringing in his dorm room, and we all knew he liked talking on the phone. It was probably his girlfriend (he talked to her the most), but there was no way of knowing for sure. I expected him to excuse himself from our conversation, but he didn’t. He didn’t even flinch or glance away. He just sat there in the hallway, eyes focused on me, waiting to hear the rest of what I was saying. 

I don’t remember what I was saying. I don’t remember what he said, either. All I remember is the moment he ignored the phone for the sake of our conversation. That moment is permanently etched on my mind. 

Continue reading The Day The Phone Rang Out

Why The Book Is Better Than The Movie

I couldn’t wait to get into the cinema the day the first Lord of the Rings came out. To see a story I had loved for so long on the big screen was a treat, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tolkien’s storyline was preserved, and the special effects were brilliant. Still, when the film was over, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something had been lost, that some magic had been tainted in the transition from the page to the screen. And I know I’m not alone. There’s a reason that the phrase “the book was better than the movie” is almost proverbial. But why? Books don’t have a budget of millions to draw on. They don’t have high definition video, experienced actors, expensive special effects, and Dolby digital surround sound, either. So how is it that all of these advantages can be consistently bested by simple words on a page?

Continue reading Why The Book Is Better Than The Movie

Why Lynyrd Skynyrd Should Have Tried Bird Watching

One of the greatest symbols of freedom in the world is a bird on the wing. He has no restraints, he owns the sky – not even gravity can keep him down. The bird can go where he wishes, when he wishes, and no one can stop him. He has a freedom of movement far beyond our own, and it’s little wonder that his wings have become a symbol of unrestricted liberty. All of which inspired Lynyrd Skynyrd to sing that he was “free like a bird” when he left the girl who loved him, because he “must be travelling on now”. Sorry girl, but “this bird you cannot change”. 

Which makes me think that Lynyrd Skynyrd was no bird watcher. If he had been, he might have done things differently.

Continue reading Why Lynyrd Skynyrd Should Have Tried Bird Watching