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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison


Liam Notting was a product of twenty-first century TV culture. So many famous people appeared before his sofa each day - many famous for no obvious reason other than their fame. ‘Why not me?’ he had thought.

Had Liam been born a generation before, he might have assumed that fame and wealth were by-products of hard work. Talent would be needed for many pursuits but, even then, years of study and effort would be required to hone those natural abilities to a level substantially beyond his peers. Such thoughts never crossed his mind as he entered the auditions for the latest TV ‘find a pop-star’.

He had been a little bemused when the pianist had asked in which key he wished to sing. He requested a medium sized one and hoped he had got away with it. The judges waited with anticipation to discover if he could sing, though none with greater curiosity than himself. He could not recall having sung a note in his entire life. There had been hymns at school but for those he had mimed.

Puccini’s Nessun Dorma had been a poor choice. It had sounded so impressive when Josť Carreras had performed it on TV, but not being too clear on the tune and remembering just three words, and those incorrectly, had rather let Liam down.

Liam sadly added vocal stardom to the list of occupations to which he had aspired but from which he had been cruelly excluded by lack of talent and application. It was just as when he had applied as lead concert pianist for the Royal Philharmonic. How could he have told them he couldn’t play? He didn’t know. He’d never tried. The same at the trial for Manchester United. Even his attempt to become a best selling author had been snatched away from him by a liberal twentieth century education. School had, admittedly, put emphasis on developing his creativity, but the total lack of training in the technical aspects of reading and writing had left him as illiterate as other multiple A grade GCSE students.

The ironic tragedy of Liam’s life was Quiddlenitch. It was, perhaps, a mercy that he would never know of it. How could he, after all, as Quiddlenitch did not exist and would never be invented in this universe? If only that quark in the quantum vacuum had been just a fraction to the left.

Quiddlenitch would have been a game for which Liam possessed an uncanny natural ability which would have required no further training or effort. Exponents of his calibre would have been paid millions and been household names. Millions would have watched on TV his faultless technique in rising from the sofa (Quiddlenaa would have been the technical term). Fans would have been thrilled by the co-ordination involved in lifting the ring-pull (Quiddsaert) and downing the can of Guinness (Quiddat) in one motion. His curry microwaving (Quidallon) would have brought the auditorium to its feet.

Sadly, none of this was to be. In this universe such breathtaking expertise was simply associated with an idle git.