The Collector of Facts


Moab Is My Washpot was lent to me a few days ago by my Uncle, when I saw it perched on his coffee table amongst a pile of books. I showed an interest in reading it and he kindly asked if I would like to borrow it (along with another of Stephen Fry’s books, The Fry Chronicles). Luckily, I finished reading The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion during the car journey home that very same day (another brilliant book- highly recommended). So I was able to start the first of the Stephen Fry novels that night before I went to sleep. Since then, I have only put it down with reluctance due to time, most inconveniently, continuing to advance and life needing my attention. If I could read books all day every day, I would. But unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.

Stephen Fry has always been one of my heroes. Last year on an episode of Come Dine With Me, one of the hosts asked their guests, “If you could invite absolutely any five famous people to be guests at your dinner party, who would you invite?” The famous people could be from any era, currently alive or dead and whether they would in reality be willing to attend a mere peasant(!)’s random dinner party didn’t come into the equation.

This got me thinking.

I initially struggled to make the headcount as high as five, as I don’t tend to idolise celebrities. But once my brain started to whir into action, I actually struggled to make the headcount as low as five. However, Stephen Fry was one of the first desired guests that came to mind (alongside David Attenborough and Michael J. Fox), because of the fantastic conversation that I think he would have to offer.

Watching just one episode of QI provides enough of an idea of how wonderful a man Mr Fry is. He is incredibly intellectual and what makes me laugh about him is that he doesn’t seem to have much patience with people being ‘silly’ whilst he is trying to tell them an interesting fact. Perhaps one of the reasons I favour him so much is that he reminds me a little of me in this aspect(!).

Currently fifty-nine pages in to his first novel, I only find myself loving the man more. One quote that particularly stood out to me (for some reason or other) was:

“….for this was the time, as I approached seven, that I began to collect facts instead of butterflies, stamps or football cards….”

He goes on to state that Alexander Graham Bell stated, soon after inventing the telephone, that he believed that ‘one day there will be a telephone in every major town in America‘. An interesting and fairly amusing fact, given that nowadays, probably more households than not have at least one house phone and a mobile phone pretty much per person. However, this isn’t why I liked this particular passage. What I liked about it was the fact that Stephen Fry began “collecting facts” at age six. He strikes me now as an incredibly interesting, intellectual and factual man, and one of the main reasons I would choose him to have at my famous dinner party would be that I would love to ask him just how many facts he thinks he has acquired in those fifty years since he began his collection- and I would love to know some of them.

The photo at the top of this post is of the framed photograph I have on my bedroom wall, depicting Mr Fry alongside my Grandad. It has to be one of my favourite photos of all time, partly because it has Stephen Fry in it and also because I’m proud (though envious) that my Grandad was lucky enough to meet the man. The photo was taken on the set of the 1997 film, Wilde, in which Mr Fry played the title role of Oscar Wilde and my Grandad worked on the set. I’m yet to see the film itself, but it’s on my list of films to watch- mainly because I would like to see the film amongst which my wondrous photograph was taken.

So the bottom line is that I love Mr Stephen Fry. That is pretty much what this post has been about- my love and admiration of the man. But I also can’t stress enough how much of a good read Moab Is My Washpot is turning out to be (not that I expected any less of it). But I highly recommend it to all of those with a love of Stephen Fry- or even just those with a love of an interesting and entertaining read. Perhaps if you’re the latter, you will finish the book with a new-found love of the brilliant man who wrote it.

Thanks for reading,
The Cosy Onion


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