I like finding new things. In these days of mass internet usage there seems to be a new thing every two minutes to share, or tell everyone it’s the funniest or saddest or most emotive in some way thing you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve said that just the day before about something equally as trivial. I’m not so fussed about those new things. I like new things that I’ve discovered, for me, that I like to think have opened up my mind to even more thoughts and ideas. Yes that sounds wanky. Yes I like it precisely because of that, because somewhere in amongst all my other time wasting, I like to pretend that bits of it are helping me to absorb culture like a sponge of, er, well culture. Which sounds a bit like I mean germs when you put it in that context.
My latest new thing, which isn’t new at all, is listening to the US podcast The Moth. I stumbled on it after they gave their annual award to Louis CK and as a fan of his, I saw his acceptance speech which was, of course, great. Like Radiohead I’ve now decided that regardless of output I’ll probably like it and be one of those annoying people that tells you how great it is even if you have valid reasons not to like it*. I am an unashamed fan. Louis CK said The Moth often brought him to tears but at the same time fascinated him, and so like a blinkered follower I googled, subscribed and was downloading the backlog in minutes**. As a result the past few weeks have seen me laughing out loud on the tube, gawping with amazement at what I’m hearing while walking around town and, last week, crying my eyes off while driving down the M11. Which in retrospect, is probably not the safest way to drive.
I’m not sure when I became so sensitive to tales of human kindness, emotion and endeavour but there’s something so gratifying about hearing people just be people. Experiencing things and talking about them. Thinking about it, I wonder if it’s a reaction to spending so much time on social media seeing opinion pieces for the sake of opinion pieces, unnecessary hyperbole and jokes said for reward rather than because they are honest thoughts. Every week on The Moth there are tales where people pour their hearts out and it makes me like the planet again.
On Tuesday I had just walked down the escalator at Kings Cross station with a friend*** when we heard a horrible shriek. I turned around to see a woman had tumbled down the moving stairs and landed on her neck. She had a pram that had fallen over and there was no sign of a child, and her belongings were everywhere. I managed to gain some sort of awareness and raced to hit the stop button. People around me ran to help her, one woman shouted ‘I know first aid’ and we let her through as the injured lady lay very, very worryingly still. Someone informed us that there hadn’t been a baby in the pram, just some bags, thankfully and several of us sighed with relief. I helped gather some of her belongings, before realising I was just gawping, watching and in the way. I saw people from Transport For London were coming so I left. I spent some time thinking about whether she was ok – luckily thanks to twitter I found out that she was – and then more time thinking about how moving it was that so many people helped. In London where we are supposed to be cold and unkind. In a country where we’ve got a government who are talking of removing human rights and excel in cruelty to those in need. In a world that seems increasingly more selfish.
I’m currently struggling with where to add hope in my new solo show. At the moment it’s about 40 minutes**** of grumbling about whether or not, as humans, we’ve had our time on this planet. How inward looking and selfish we are as a society. But since writing I’ve had The Moth, and several moments like that on the tube, that have made me realise that we might just still be ok. That people do still feel things. That sometimes people still want to help other people and miss other people and love other people. It’s what I needed I think to feel less cynical. Unfortunately, it’s really not very funny. Yet. Hopefully I will find another new thing soon that helps me realise how to change that. Hopefully very soon. Very very soon please.
You can download The Moth podcast here: http://themoth.org
As a warning, the Mother’s day episode a few weeks ago***** is the one that ruined me and caused minor floods on the motorway in Essex.
* If the rumours of him sexually assaulting female comedians are true that will put me off to be fair. I really really hope they aren’t. His stand-up and tv shows continue to be an inspiration to me so he’d better not fucking let me and everyone else down and actually be an arsehole.
** It was more like seconds. My broadband connection is great. I just didn’t want to boast. I’m nice like that.
*** It was actually another actor in a short film thing I’m doing. We’ve only met twice but I’ve decided to class her as a friend already because a) she’s very nice and b) I’m pretty great and pretend most people are my friends until they invite me to a social situation that I can’t be bothered to go to because I have Netflix.
**** It will, at some point, be 60 minutes. At some point. Stop harassing me ok? For fuck’s sake. Give a nice guy that befriends everyone a break.
***** It was for US Mother’s Day because they get all their dates wrong.
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