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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fail Better


I don't usually mention it these days because my friends got sick of the story, but years ago, in fact, it was roughly six years ago to be precise, in 2007, I decided to plonk myself in Paris after I went to a wedding in Venice. It was during this period that I struck up a friendship with the American actor Owen Wilson who was running around Paris post his break up with Kate... Goldie Hawn's daughter. The name will come to me. She was in Almost Famous.

Anyway, so poor old Owen was down and out and needed some company, so I made my most concerted effort to be there whenever he was in want of a night out. We became good friends, good enough that we exchanged some great dialogue as we cycled the streets of Paris. One night, whilst I was feigning knowledge of the history of Paris as we rode near the Jacobian church on the Boulevard St Germain after having been at the fire station at St. Sulpice, I turned to him and I said 'did you like the stories I emailed you, please be honest'. He muttered something like  'I told you what I thought of them', referencing an email where he had written 'wait, I thought Hemingway was dead'. It was tongue in cheek and the arse had managed with that small quip to shut me up. I then said to him 'it's just that, I am writing this book and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I just give up. I am sick of failing' and at this point he said something very poignant about life which was fresh to my ears then. He said: "I always like to quote Samuel Beckett when it comes to writing. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better".

I often wonder whether Owen ever remembers those bike rides because I know I did. I think of those words when I make another foray into anything I have turned my hand to. Tonight it was getting a finer print to screen onto my pocket squares. It was a journey of a thousand stepping stones starting with a gracious screen printer named Steve who saw that I wasn't going to give up and so he told me how to get my screen done on just the right mesh. And, I feel, we finally got it.

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