In a departure from my usual bloggery, I would like to talk about my relationship with a man who I have never met and who doesn’t know me. While doing this I hope to avoid extreme sentiment and mawkish rambling but will fail utterly.
The man in question is Stephen Fry and I love him. Now please don’t go thinking that I’m a strange stalker, it is quite possible to love somebody you’ve never met and not be a loony bunny boiler.
He first came to my attention on the British version of Saturday Night Live, which for you younger readers was a show hosted by Ben (Maybe Baby) Elton and featured live sketches and music. At the time the stage was dominated by Harry Enfield whose characters were quoted by every kid in the country. However it wasn’t Harry I looked forward to when I tuned in; it was Fry & Laurie.
To me those two men were the funniest thing in the world. Unlike the other acts they seemed to relish the use of language and their sketches always seemed a cut above the others. The only sad thing for me was that they were not on every week and the show never felt as good without a Fry & Laurie sketch. It felt somehow incomplete and rather over reliant on Harry popping out and shouting his latest catchphrase.
So imagine my joy when the BBC announced a new sketch show called ‘A Bit of Fry & Laurie’. My two favourite comedy performers, on my television screen for a whole 25 minutes a week. It was utter heaven to a boy who loved comedy so much and who really loved these two tall men and their beautifully written words.
Then time moved on and I began to feel certain urges. Yes I fancied boys. For some reason that didn’t come as a shock to me and it was something that I accepted, but I quickly realised that I couldn’t tell another living soul , even my own Mother, more from fear of disappointing her rather than for fear of rejection. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my mum is fucking great. For some time though I felt isolated and while my friends at school were getting girlfriends I simply threw myself into the world for books: Sherlock Holmes, ripping John Buchan and Victorian ghost stories were my favourite. They were safe worlds where nobody expected you to explain why you didn’t have a girlfriend.
It was around this time that I began listening to Radio 4 and I remember discovering it like a lost city of gold. However I realised quite quickly that I was the only person in the world listening so spread the word by taping programs and taking them to school where we played them on the school tape cassette player. There was a whole group of us listening to I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Radio Active and dozens of other new (to us) and exciting comedy series. Many of these featured Steven Fry who – like he had on television – lit up (metaphorically) any show in which he appeared, including Desert Island Discs.
Now to say that world collided when I heard Stephen Fry on Desert Island Discs would be an understatement. It threw me onto a tail spin and cemented him as my hero for life. He didn’t say much to achieve this but what he said was like an audio hug and what he said was “I am almost entirely gay”. Yes he didn’t say that he was entirely gay because he still had to work through that with himself and it was a fair few years before he finally came out of the closet and nailed the door shut. But for the moment that was enough, my hero was like me and it hit me like a truck filled with pink feather bowers.
Then there were some more series of Fry and Laurie and then he published his first book ‘The Liar’ which I began reading at 10 pm on a Friday night and finished at 6am the next morning. It was brilliant and I couldn’t put it down. Then came the Hippopotamus which is – in my humble view – his best book, Making History and finally The Stars Tennis Ball which as the time upset me as it was a far darker novel than his previous and I was unprepared for it. I remember crying at one point and throwing it across the room because my world of Fry had been shattered in to smithereens, rather like the world of the young man in the book. I’ve not read it since, but I think I will again one day.
Since then I’ve followed his career with interest and he continues to entertain and in some cases teach me. For instance in my last post I directly ripped an Oscar Wilde quotation from his podcast. I’m not ashamed of that because Stephen Fry wouldn’t object to it. He like me loves Wilde – yes there is that love word again, one day I’ll write a blog about my love for Wilde but for the moment Mr Stephen Fry is my topic.
The reason I decided to talk about ‘The Stephen Fry’ (as I believe we should now call him) is because he has yet again delighted me. This morning while walking to a meeting I listened to a podcast he’d done for Apple about his love for computers. Now I am a world class geek and computers and the internet are one of my biggest joys, which is why I produce so much stuff for online consumption.
Where was I…ah yes.
So there I was listening to this podcast. Now I always thought that I had a complete history of the development of the modern computer in my head. I was quite proud of it: granted I’ve lived through most of those developments so have picked it up as I’ve gone along but it turns out that I only knew three quarters of that history but Stephen Fry knows it all. It was lovely to hear him talking about the mistakes IBM made and the development of Apple. Yet again Stephen Fry is like me and that makes me stupidly happy.
So if you have a glass in your hand while you’re reading this please join me in a toast: to Stephen Fry, may he live a long and happy life.
Told you that I wouldn’t be able to resist getting all sentimental and mawkish.
Spag Bol for tea.