I read an article recently where an author went through a list of morning routines she had in order to inspire her creativity; I’ll be honest, I was dead jealous. I’m really not a morning person at the best of times and frankly, I invariably don’t end up doing much writing until about midday, which means I’m wasting quite a bit of time faffing about. As a ‘creative professional’ you’re always trying to find a way of getting into that blessed ‘flow’ state as quickly as possible, and then staying there for as long as possible. You know the one I mean, everyone has experienced it regardless of what they do – where you’re brimful of ideas and any problems you encounter are laughably easy to fix. It feels like your brain is firing on all cylinders. You’re like Bradley Cooper in that film Limitless; you are to all intents and purposes a superhero/God/Stephen Fry.
I have tried meditation but I honestly just sit there going ‘so, this is meditation?’. A morning walk, caffeine, listening to the right music, reading a few motivational quotes – I’ve tried them all. I’ve had some glimmers of success but nothing consistent. In fact, do you know the only activity I’ve found that gets my mind immediately in the zone? My version of the little blue pill that makes Bradley Cooper into a tornado of genius? Telephone rope-a-dope!
I shall explain; my wife and I have a landline in our flat because, as we all know, you have to have one to get broadband. The only use the landline gets is when we use it to ring a mobile that has gone into hiding. Nobody has ever been given our landline number and we’ve had ourselves removed from all registers to stop us getting sales calls. Yet, we still get calls most days – we just get those calls. You know the ones – scammers who have got your number from somewhere and who are looking for easily scared and vulnerable people to take advantage of. Most people see these as a nuisance, I don’t. It is very, very rare in this world to have someone on the other end of the phone who you know is a nasty piece of work, an utter waste of space. My advice is, don’t get mad, get creative!
I literally skip to the phone now when it rings, my head instantly a maelstrom of ideas. The purpose of the subsequent conversation is seeing how much time of the scammer’s time I can waste and how creative I can be. I have answered as Jorgen the Swedish ski instructor, Tourettes Terry, Barry on a rollercoaster (I pretended to be on a rollercoaster), Confused Colin who kept opening an actual window as opposed to one on the PC, and my personal favourite, Narcoleptic Niall (I explained the situation to the very understanding scammer who then shouted ‘wake up Niall’ seven times in the conversation when I kept falling asleep).
Normally the scammer is a ‘BT Engineer’ or ‘from X bank’. Once though, I did get a phone call from ‘the government’ informing me that I had been given a grant of ten thousand pounds for reasons that never became clear. In case you’re wondering, I explained how I was going to use the money on fake boobs – for me (three pairs), the cat, the dog and on the front of the house. The beauty of this is that, although the person on the other end thinks you’re insane, that was also one of the options they were hoping for, someone crazy enough to give a stranger bank details or download a dodgy bit of software. I’m really hoping ‘the government’ rings back as I have a lot more ideas on what I can spend the money on. I want to launch the first manned privately funded space mission to the sun!
There are also numerous musical options – for example, I tried to see how long I could go for only speaking in U2 lyrics. That is dead tricky by the way, he hung when I told him I couldn’t live with or without him – men really are bastards! I’ve also used it as an opportunity to stretch my own musical wings though, I do enjoy putting the scammer ‘on hold’ and then providing the hold music myself. I’ve done show tunes, freeform jazz, a brief and regrettable foray into gangster rap – the point there is that there are no wrong choices in telephonic improv.
So, when they hang up, as they always do – I’m left creatively inspired and feeling morally fulfilled as I’ve made my day start with a bang and I’ve hopefully made a terrible human being more fully aware of the contempt they are held in by the rest of society.