It could be me, obviously

Oliver Sachs.


Yes I know. He’s brilliant, isn’t he. Superb. So, so I don’t know, perceptive. I bet he’s got a voice like that on the radio too. And those books that everyone’s read, like the Man Who Did Something With A Hat or something. You’ve read it. You say you have, anyway. And the way he states the entirely obvious all the time and gives the impression this is supremely remarkable. Brilliant. Isn’t it?

The Man Who Ought To Have Stroked A Cat

He goes for a walk in Norway and there’s a bull in a field. There’d been a sign saying watch out, there’s a bull in the field but he’d ignored it. Was it in Norwegian? Why did he think it was, as he said, just a Norwegian farmer’s sense of humour? Really because the field was up a hill? Sorry, this guy’s supposed to be really intelligent, isn’t he? The same way he was when he strapped 18 months of research notes to his motorcycle seat with a bungee, rather than say, putting them in a bag so they wouldn’t fall off and blow all over the road and get lost forever.

He looks at the bull and because it’s huge and probably going to kill him he focusses on its nose. He falls down the hill and breaks his leg and thinks he’s going to freeze to death and it’s the most amazing sensation when he’s rescued and doesn’t die after all. Stunning. He has his leg in plaster for months and then has problems walking. Wow. Such insight. He loses vision in his eye and guess what? He can’t see out of it and bumps into things. And he can’t imagine what’s in the field of vision he hasn’t got, because he can’t see it.

“I documented all this in minute detail.”

Oliver, I know. So far so blah. Those pages aren’t going to fill themselves, after all.

Oh and he gets his entire existence vilified by his mother but hey, it’s just her upbringing, no biggie.

Hold on. Just back up a moment there. He says he thinks girls are alright, has a chat with his dad and says he thinks boys are a bit more so but he’s never done anything about it and best not tell mum and next morning his mother calls him an abomination and somehow none of this needs looking at in any detail whatsoever. Not the total betrayal of trust, the name-calling, the auto-hatred she’s able to switch on. Nope. That’s how she was brought up. Really. Janet And John must have had a special chapter that covered telling your doll that you wish she’d never been born if she says she likes people and haven’t done anything about it. Naturally.

I’ve never liked his writing. It isn’t fresh or as much fun for me as it is for him. I don’t get it, at all. But most of all I don’t understand why stating the obvious in a comprehensive study of self-absorption is supposed to be so enthralling.

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