License Not Always Required

Like many with a penchant for putting pen to paper, I often use artistic license in my prose. Fictional elements included aimed at incorporating humour, or merely to enhance the readworthiness of a otherwise dull anecdote. Additions required when GJ Strachan’s cascading of his monochrome lifestyle needs a dash of colour.

It’s fair to say, as with numerous individuals, my real existence isn’t interesting enough to sustain a purely factual daily journal. Consequently, there’s many ‘based on a true story’ days where I allow fictional epiphanies free rein to supplement the tale.

There are occasions, though, when fictional elements just aren’t required. As was the case the other day when someone (who’ll remain nameless) inadvertently relayed one of the funniest things I heard last week.

The anecdote surrounded a friend of the anonymous individual, who’d had a day at Pontefract racecourse last Thursday, during which they’d the good fortune of backing a winning horse at a price of 100/1.

While relaying the story with an amalgam of envy and disbelief, my unnamed acquaintance felt moved to ask “How lucky was that?….. What are the odds on you backing a 100/1 winner?!”

“Well I guess they’d be 100/1!” I responded patronisingly, before laughing heartily at their expense. I’m not proud of myself for my belittling retort, but at that point was floundering for a reply that wasn’t in some way disparaging to my anonymous pal.

artistic license

When using artistic license, I always endeavour to ensure it’s mentioned within the tags that the published work isn’t factual. Sadly, though, there’s times when despite my best intentions a reader can’t be persuaded an article is strewn with fanciful stuff. Subsequently, even some of the most ridiculous epiphanies are taken as genuine.

When first starting blogging three years ago I went through a phase where my monologue topics surrounded a famous birthday, or the anniversary of a historic event. A strategy I soon got bored with, electing instead to follow a path of quilling my narratives in the style of a diarist.

If memory serves me correct, in the ‘early days’ of penning prose I wrote a tongue-in-cheek account of Captain James Cooke’s third and final voyage, which set sail from Plymouth in 1776.

Within many parodic fictional references in the piece, I added that Cook’s journey started badly when, one hundred miles into the trip, they were forced to return to Plymouth harbour. The result of the ship’s navigator forgetting his sunhat and factor 30 Ambre Solaire sun cream.

For numerous reasons, I assumed it would be quite clear to all and sundry this fictional chronicling of the explorer’s fateful odyssey was untrue. However, a few years back, shortly after publishing this nonsense I received an email from a young chap in Asia thanking me for the invaluable information about Captain James Cook. Details he planned to use in his biographical college project on the British Royal Navy captain.

Although not responding to the correspondent, I was mortified my overtly silly fictional take on a major 18th century exploration had been read as a genuine account of the journey

Hopefully the kid merely disregarded the obviously untrue bits of the passage, retaining the factual elements for his project. After all, I don’t want to be responsible for this kid receiving a rubbish grade and be humiliated in the presence of his peers.

However, one never knows what people will choose to believe. Meaning, as I write, somewhere on the Indian sub-continent Ambre Solairegate may well have it’s own little place in the annuls of British Naval history.

That being said, if this lad did choose to journal my Captain Cook narrative verbatim, I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall to witness his tutor’s face when grading the young man’s project.

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