You asked if I kept any writing from my childhood so you could laugh at it like we laugh at the tragics on the great short podcast Mortified. Well, not really. Over the years I’ve thrown out anything without immediate utility and while there might be something left in an attic somewhere in England, I think I got rid of the really shameful writing.
Sadly I might have also got rid of the best poem ever written by a 14-year-old – my epic on the vices and virtues of the scoundrel and founder of modern Germany, Otto von Bismarck. We’d been asked to write an essay (in History class, so they really weren’t looking for creativity) about Bismarck and the causes of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. To understand the following snippet you need to know that John Motson was a famous British football commentator.
Basically, Lord Bisniz (also called DJ Let’s Get Bizzy) turned a trivial meeting into a diplomatic incident into a war – exactly what he wanted and needed at the time:
It was an opportunity,
And as John Motson would say,
He had a chance and he stuck it away.
It was 2 or 3 pages of historically accurate rhyme. Pure genius. Of course I got told off by the teacher and the head of the History department, but then the teacher read bits of it aloud in class because it was infinitely more fun and vivid than the textbooks. So did they want me to do it again or not? Mixed messages.
Anyway, my past nerdality was strong, which links to a podcast review request we got while you were away. It’s a show called The Once and Future Nerd, about three American high-school kids who get sucked into a fantasy world with elves and orcs and swords and all that.
I listened to a bunch of shows and every time I tried to sit down and write a review, I didn’t know where to start. So I went and listened to another one and still didn’t know what to say. I’d leave it for a few days hoping for inspiration to strike; it didn’t.
What’s the problem? I still don’t know. The show is well-produced, the editing is more or less perfect. There are pretty good sound effects – it could be a BBC radio play – and the voice acting is good. I was so puzzled about the show (example: I couldn’t decide how old the writers were based on the content) that I went to their website to find out more – the cast seem pretty serious and it would seem they all work for free because they like it and believe in it.
So… it sounds great, the actors would be first on a spaceship reserved for genetically superior humans… why is it so hard to review? Just I’m not sure that I like it very much. Maybe I’m a bit less nerdy than I was aged 14 (although that doesn’t ring true – I write about podcasts and Asterix for a hobby). Or maybe it just didn’t quite grab me right away because I wasn’t in the right mood that first day I listened to it. I feel like I should like it, and I’m pretty sure the 14-year-old me would have liked it.
Maybe it’s because they sometimes try to add Douglas Adams-type humour without quite succeeding and I just think ‘missed opportunity’. Maybe it’s because it’s a kind of what if we were in Skyrim? fantasy. And I’ve played Skyrim for hundreds of hours… I’ve done all that imagining myself already. Or maybe it’s because the main characters are so cliche, or because they do that one fantasy trope I hate – having tons of apostrophes in names and places.
So, yeah. For me, The Once and Future Nerd doesn’t quite hit the spot, but I’m sure there’s an audience for this out there.