Friday, February 03, 2006

Beige People

I was listening to Julian Cope on the radio when he was asked to cast a movie about the Liverpool scene of which he was part. He did not have any good answers about likely actors but nevertheless celebrated the colourful characters such as Bill Drummond, and Pete Burns. He then said someone else had become more and more bland until he had disappeared. I was reminded of Billy Connolly saying how he hated beige people. I guess it's the same emotion - the expansive, colourful character rejecting the dull.

I always feel a bit mixed when I hear such comments because although I love the extravagance of those people, their imagination and the courage to express what they feel, regardless of consequence, I also know that from the outside I am one of the beige people. I live in an average house on an average street. Every morning, along with thousands of others, I commute into to London. I have a close family and a small circle of friends and in social gatherings I tend to be rather reserved. However I do not say this with regret or in a self depreciating way - it's just the way it is.

It is also part of my aesthetic outlook, which is to look at the ordinary and try to find the extra-ordinary. It is always there - walk down any high street and look beyond the storefronts and you will always find some interesting juxtaposition of buildings: some history, some story. Sometimes I can be doing something as routine as supermarket shopping and be suddenly struck by how many loaves of bread have been sold. My normal perspective is the couple of loaves I buy but when I start to think about the scale of it all I am in awe of the amount of material that is grown, processed, organised, dispatched so that I can easily gather what I want. The whole supply chain is a wonder of analysis, organisation and reliability - each activity in the chain might be ordinary but combined result is a marvel.

That is just a small example of trying not to take things for granted. Running is part of this exercise.

I constantly repeat a small number of routes but I never get bored because I always see something new and am amazed at how I had missed it before. It is a constant reminder of how little I take in at any one time - there is always more to see. Sometimes it something that has always been there but unnoticed like the way the canal broadens and bends at a particular point. Other times it is an event on that day. On my last long run as I passed a donkey in a field it started to bray and until then I had never realised just how much they sounded like a door on a rusty hinge. I then realised I had never noticed that field and that donkey before.

By going over the ground many times I feel I know it better and can find the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

If it is true for the landscape it is even more true for people. Look at any group of runners and usually they don't look like a gathering of beautiful people but within that group there will be any amazing array of personal stories and qualities.

If you look hard enough people are not beige.


b-z said...

I dont think anypeople are beige

but that my job-for a little while at least
they all have stories to tell-and they do

beanz said...

Like Ruth, I don't think anyone is beige when you get to know them

and YOU, HK, are certainly NOT beige