Inspiration comes in many forms. As part of my blogging in 2011 I shall be covering one of my heroes each month. This month I look at Stephen Fry.
Think of this article has my public declaration of love. I cannot imagine what life would be like without having an influence so creative, humorous, intelligent or charming. With fear I have left Stephen Fry to my second ‘Hero’ of this year just to prove to people that there are others who inspire me also, however the level in which this man influences my own approach to life is vast. What’s more is that we should not be ashamed of having influences – inspiration from many sources still makes you unique. Stephen Fry just happens to be one of my “greats”.
Before writing this article I pondered to when my admiration for Stephen Fry materialised, it is very difficult to pinpoint. I suppose during my AS levels at secondary school I became aware of this celebrity in a fashion which was beyond fame awe. No doubt about it, Stephen Fry is an international celebrity but I hope “celebrity” doesn’t dampen the expectations to thinking Stephen Fry would be the sort of individual to appear in glossy celebrity magazines which are filled with drivel concerning only a personal fame. Stephen Fry is a true celebrity, a man who has become a public figure through his talents.
One of the reasons why Stephen Fry has done so well is because he presents a clear interest in others, this becomes apparent in many of his documentaries; The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive, Stephen Fry in America, Wagner and Me, Last Chance To See and HIV and Me. Easily as a polymath stories could be constructed purely of his own observations but instead he relies on other individuals to construct the story he is attempting to explain. The virtue of charm expresses the need to oeuvre others. His pathway to the present wasn’t through the channels of serious documentary filming but instead comedy. When I consider classic comedies it is necessary to count Blackadder and a Bit of Fry and Laurie.
Stephen Fry is firmly written into my ego (of the Freudian sort) and will not budge. He has written great lengths in his autobiographies Moab Is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles (Amazon affiliate links) and so I will not waste time devaluing my words against his and will instead travel straight to the purpose of this “Hero” article, to explain why Stephen Fry is an influence of mine.
You will notice clear characteristics between all of the individuals who I name influencers of mine as having the ability to relate to a figurehead is important, more than that, it is vital. My heroes will be thinkers, writers and comedians as these are the three characteristics and avenues I recognise talent. Of course there are those who create art (other than writing), maybe iconic sportspeople or even ventriloquists. All these skills are incredible but not paths which wholly interest me.
In my opinion the best thing Stephen Fry does is writing. Coupled with his intellect and sense of humour the words which splash upon the page are unlike any other writer I know. He doesn’t necessarily write in a manner which could be considered compact or neatly sown but uses the full leaps and bounds of the English language to paint his sentences with colour. The year in which Stephen Fry started blogging (strangely my first blog post was about mobile phones and a few days later I noticed Mr Fry’s first blog post was almost identical called ‘Devices and Desires’) I literally wet myself with excitement. This is not a man who is passionate because of money, he writes because that is part of who he is. I’ve often uttered that if I was told I could not write again then I would rather die, without writing, life is not worth living.
Over the years I have made a concerted effort to seek Mr Fry on his travels in a manner some may describe as stalking! The first time I met him was in 2008 in Cheltenham for his ‘Stephen Fry in America’ book. Proudly I was first in the queue and even managed to get a photo with him (A little later I saw how Stephen Fry doesn’t like the kerfuffle of photos at signings. Felt a little guilty but glad the photo was taken quickly) and within the book is written,
“To Michael White
First in the Cheltenham Queue!”
A few months after the signing I managed to watch several QI shows being recorded, watched a talk by him at the iTunes Festival in 2009 and last year I was at Cheltenham Racecourse where he and Mark Carwardine (also a great man) spoke about their documentary Last Chance to See.
I know for a fact that Stephen Fry is a very generous man in his spare time whom isn’t afraid to depart with money to support causes, quite the philanthropist. As each year passes I am constantly left in a state of open-mouth awe at how he brings various projects to life and just how talented he really is.
His attitude to life has taught me how to enjoy work, to be determined, always approach life with a sense of humour and how politeness goes a lot further than rudeness. I can’t ever imagine Stephen Fry retiring, for this I am thankful. There will never be someone quite like Stephen Fry.