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September 24, 2007 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Idiot’s guide to writing a column

When you write a column for a student magazine, you learn a thing or two about life. Once you’ve accepted the task of writing more than 20 articles without pay, you then need to face the possibility that perhaps nobody even reads your articles. So what do you do? You write the best damn article you can, so if people aren’t reading it, then you’re having the last laugh because they are missing out! And you laugh all the way to the emotional bank, or Kiwi Bank, or sperm bank which ever has the best cups.

What does this teach one about life? Not much really. My point is this: Anyone can write a column! Even you idiots, all it takes is an idea! My idea is the idiots guide (yeah I came up with it) so you can’t write that. I know you’re probably frightened by the concept of your own column, but I’m serious! Here is an idea that you could use. People I’ve noticed that seem a bit weird.

This article began because I wanted to tell the story of a man, a man whose story I wish to communicate to the world. This man is a mechanic. He works very close to my house. And he loves cats! We have a cat – I say ‘we’ because it is not my cat as such, as much as a cat can belong to a person, it belongs to my greater household. This wee cat spends most of his time during the day outside, mostly because our landlord doesn’t give us any notice when he comes around. Our lease has a strict ‘no pet’ policy, and since we only have the one pet, we are technically breaking our lease agreement.Our landlord just sends his minions in to go through our belongings and try on our underwear. Still, when one of our bathroom doors won’t open because its rubbish lock broke, he’s nowhere to be found.

Anyway, this story isn’t about our landlord, it’s about a man who prefers the company of cats. Now this cat, who will remain nameless, spends most of his day behind the apartment, crying. He’s just a big softy. This mechanic, who hears the crying comes across the street to hold our cat, and smooch him (those are his words, called the cat Smoochy, as in “She’s very smoochy”). I have to walk past this scene, and I have several hundred metres to observe this scene before I pass the two of them and walk into my house. This man just holds him, as if he was a small child who would run away and be forever lost. He stands perfectly still, as our cat struggles in his arms, half frightened, half terrified. As the first person home most days, I walk straight past this awkward scenario and head inside. My flatmate who claims ownership over said cat then arrives home, usually a healthy 10-15 minutes later, has to go and gather the cat from this mans grasp. That’s right! This man is still calmly holding our cat, still as a statue, 15 minutes later, which leads me to believe he has been holding him for upwards of two hours. Then once flattie number 1 has collected the cat, mechanic just goes back to work! So he must use all his breaks during the course of the day to go and spend time with silly little cat.

That is his story. The cat loving mechanic. But everyone has a story. Many of those stories should be told, like Forrest Gump or Yogi Bear, and then there are some we could do without, like Truman Capote or William Wallace.

I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking what the hell is the point to this column. It is a column about story telling. It’s about learning which stories to retell over and over to your friends and families, and which to keep to yourself. If you didn’t like this column, then all the more reason for you to write your own. Yes, this column has no point, but it was still published in a magazine! And that makes it awesome!

To be honest, I am very sick and this is the best I could come up with. If you think you could have done better given my extreme discomfort then jog on!

PS. The story about the man and the cat is completely true, even though this column was rubbish. I hope you learned something about fondling other people’s pets, it’s a bit weird, and someone may write a column about you.


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