Our podcast The Truth Lies in Bedtime Stories, from See Through News, Series 7, Marcus & Jemima – how I deal with people at parties who assume I have children: George eavesdrops on a bonding chat
In Episode 2, Overheard, George takes a different angle on his conversation with red-trousered Rupert, in which two strangers bond by discussing their children…
Episode 1: The Truth Revealed
Or for the whole thing, the Omnibus edition
Narration and series theme music by George Hinchliffe
Produced & mixed by SternWriter
Podcast sting by Samuel Wain
If you enjoyed this series, why not try:
- Series 1: The Story of Ganbaatar – the only qualified deep-sea navigator in Mongolia
- Series 2: Betrayed – A Tale of Christmas Spiritual Pollution
- Series 3: Life on the Edge – Taiwan, China, America and the Moment I Realised Mrs. Wang Was Mostly Guessing What Her Husband Said
- Series 4: The Quiet Revolutionary – the heroic role played in a plot to assassinate the King by someone you’ve all heard of
- Series 5: A Classical Chinese Dirty Joke, Told Thrice
- Series 6: Teetering – how a Hawaiian beach bum held my career in the balance
The Truth Lies in Bedtime Stories is a See Through News production.
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Episode 2 : Overheard
Just to clarify, what business was Marcus in?
Well, at the time he’d got a number of interests and he’d bought some land which he was using primarily, as I understood it, for some sort of ayahuasca project where people would fly in from Europe and take these herbs and go through some sort of transformative experience. What it exactly involved I have no idea at this point.
Had you met Simeon at this point?
Simeon was entirely fictitious and so was, um. What’s her name? Jemima.
Yeah, but had you met him?
No. No, I just heard about Simeon. You know, she’d met him after university and gone off. I don’t know. I went to Jakarta and who knows where they were?
Just to clarify things, could you retell the story as a third party as if you were at this party and describe what you saw and what you overheard?
Well, I was standing at the party and I didn’t know anybody and my partner was part of the film crew, but I didn’t know any of them. And she was off talking to some other folk and I was left standing at the bar next to these two fellows, one of whom had red trousers on and he said,‘Have your children left university?’. And I was simply observing, as the second chap said, ‘Yes, my children have left university. Marcus is in Peru and Jemima is in Indonesia. ‘
And I thought, ‘Oh, this is interesting. These are people who’ve got experiences that I don’t have at all’. And so I observed and listened to their conversation developing about their children and their children’s business interests and their concerns about supporting the children financially and when the end of the support was going to come.
Rupert was feeling a little isolated and anxious not knowing anybody at this party. And so he said to the man standing next to him, George, in this case, ‘Have your children left university?’, hoping to start some sort of conversation.
Perhaps he could have been thinking, ‘What’s your handicap at golf?’, or ‘Did you buy a red motorcycle when you had your midlife crisis’?
So he’s trying to bond and he thought George looked like the sort of chap who would have kids who’d just left university, looking at his age and whatnot.
And then George thought, ‘Well, here I am not knowing anybody and slightly anxious I should try and have a conversation with this chap who’s standing next to me at the bar. He’s opened up the conversation. I should respond to this in a sympathetic manner, but I could in the interests of being friendly and for the purposes of this social interaction, go along with whatever he said’.
I’m thinking of techniques of improvisation in theatre, for example, when somebody says, ‘Oh, the chimpanzee’s due to be delivered’ at any point and then the other person on the stage improvising could say, ‘What are you talking about? Chimpanzee? What do you mean the delivery of a chimp? It sounds ridiculous.’
Or you could say, ‘Oh, absolutely, yes. Didn’t Bert say it was going to come this morning? Yes, yes, yes’. And then they say Bert did say it was going to come this morning, but it was delayed. So the chimpanzee won’t arrive until about 4:00 this afternoon. ‘Oh, fine, fine. I’d better go and get the bananas’. So you make it up and then you have the flow.
Saying yes to things is what makes good flow and good theatre and indeed conversation at a wrap party standing next to the bar and the canapés might be the same. So that’s what George was thinking.
So instead of saying ‘I haven’t got any children’ or ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about with the chimpanzee’, he said, ‘Yes, the children have left university…’ and then started to say a little bit about it. And then he started extrapolating from that and made up something about the children, which was a good move because it enabled Rupert to say, ‘I recognise what you’re talking about. The same thing happened to me…’.
So the entirely fictitious story about Marcus and his wish for £60,000 chimed in with Rupert’s experience with Henry. So the two blokes were able to bond and talk.
Yeah, that seems perfectly clear. Thank you very much. For anyone who’s not entirely sure which bits are true and which bits aren’t. Is there some kind of story you could tell us that would help illuminate this?