An article in the paper caught my eye…
Wrinkles could signal health trouble
It was one if those look at me studies that seek to make unlikely links and secure a headline in the silly season. Apparently the deeper the frown lines, the more likely the widow maker.
Which caused the Textiliste to turn and stare at me.
You wrinkle your forehead when you smile.
It’s true. It’s not worry that makes me create fleshy shelving.
This is the cover of one of my books; beneath the surface I’m smiling…
As I’m pondering this, wondering if that makes me odd, she shook her part of the paper and added…
You do a lot of odd things without realising it….
When I did a creative writing course, a few years back, the tutor suggested one way to distinguish our characters was to give them a mannerism. In Salisbury Square, my third novel, Jerzy rubs his thighs without being aware of it.
He went back to rubbing his trousers. “I’m sick to death of it: the violence. I hate myself for being like them, you know? Hate it.” The pace of the rubbing increased as he gripped and released his fists at the end of each stroke.
It reminded me of a senior lawyer I knew back in the early eighties when I was starting out in the legal world. If you asked him a question that demanded an elongated answer – and did he like elongating his answers – he would sit opposite you and give his thighs a jolly good rub, as if to warm up either his hands or legs or both. Once he’d decided on what he wanted to say, he would stop, sit back and give you the benefit of his considerable wisdom.
You have to be brave when you ask these questions, don’t you? Where might this be going?
Your eyebrows trampoline a bit when you’re talking
I went on a public speaking course, run by a former MP Greville Janner when I became a partner in my law firm. Mr Janner didn’t spare us. The speaker before me was so terrified he positively gurned as he delivered his little set piece.
Is there a small mammal nesting in your face?
I grant you, it was a bit overactive, that face, like the skin was trying to get free. So as I stepped up I made a conscious effort to still my expression. Janner watched and waited until I finished. I stood, sure the inevitable coruscating criticism was coming…
Are you alive, Mr Le Pard?
Odd question, really. What he went on to add was that the lack of any animation anywhere on my face, including, he said with a shrill tone denoting his incredulity, my mouth made him wonder if I was just a mannequin with a recording device somewhere inside. I’d overdone the control.
So facial movement, even if it involves two small caterpillars flossing on my brow-line has a necessary accompaniment to my modes of speech.
And then there’s what you do on the phone
The phone? Now, I learnt from my mother, in one of those I’m not doing what she does ways of learning that parents inadvertently employ, that I wasn’t going to develop that staple of the 1950s and 60s sitcom: the telephone voice. That said I do answer the phone with a jolly interrogative ending – like a castrated Australian someone once told me – which often leads to the caller saying ‘Hello Mrs Le Pard, can I interest you…?’
I interrupt with a deep, baritone, ‘No, you can’t,’ making a mental note that next time, I will embrace my butch side and lose a few octaves.
Nope, not my voice. I hug the hand that is not holding the handset tight under my armpit, as if it might escape and randomly press keys or drum tattoos on passing marsupials (there’s something oddly antipodean happening with this post). Why? I don’t know I’m doing it so how do I know why I’m doing it? I will make an effort to shake my hand loose and watch where it decides to roam. I will report back.
But that’s not the strangest thing…
And you know what? I didn’t want to know. No, that’s baloney, of course, I wanted to know and, of course, she told me and, of course, I’m not telling you. Yes, you will now be speculating and no, it doesn’t involve any personal mining of easily reached openings. But I’m changing my style of speeching.
You have been warned.
Do you employ mannerisms for you characters, or do you engage in subconscious fiddling and faffing when you talk? More to the point do you have a super-observant spouse/partner/other busybody waiting to overshare? If so, we can form a support group. Give me a few days and I’ll work out a really cool secret handshake….