I’VE been watching a lot of Ted Talks on Youtube recently. They are brilliant. Some of the brightest minds in the world go on a stage and talk for 10 minutes about life, love, science, history, technology and anything else you can think of. You can lose hours watching them, one after the other, as you try to absorb the barrage of wisdom coming your way. 

I think it must be quite an amazing feeling to be so confident in your knowledge of a certain niche topic that you’re able to go out in front of hundreds of people in a room and explain it to them, plus the millions who’ll later watch it online. Not only that, but to be able to deliver it in a funny and engaging way as well seems like an incredible skill to have. 

It’s got me thinking that there’s probably nothing that I know about that would make for a good Ted Talk. I often do talks on creative writing and how to write good stories in schools, youth groups and prisons, but I feel like I’m always winging it. ‘Wit ye dae,’ I open with, ‘is come up wi an idea an then write doon wit ye can see in yer mind.’ 

The expectant class often looks at me to delve in further, to produce a nugget of wisdom that will unlock their own creativity. I make it clear that this is really all there is to it. ‘There’s still another hour left of this talk,’ the organiser might interject here. 

The class looks up at me, pens in hand waiting for something, anything, that they can write down which might be in any way helpful to them. Nothing is forthcoming. 

I suppose I could start giving a talk on how you can study as much of the theory behind creative writing as you like but nothing will make you a good writer in the way that simply writing and reading as often and as much as you can will. This however probably wouldn’t make for a good Ted Talk. For starters, it’d only be about five seconds long. 

I’ve been thinking about other things in my life I could talk about, things I like, things I’m good at or just things I know a lot about. 

For example I know how to ignore problems that arise in the motor for far too long. If it’s making a strange new noise, a rattling sound coming from the engine for example, I just turn up the volume of the radio, pray that nothing major will go wrong until I put it in for an MOT and then hope the guy at the garage will just say, ‘Ach, it’s nothing to worry aboot, pal.’ Problem solved. 

The secret to living a happy and stress-free life? Just ignore everything that goes wrong and focus on having a good time is my advice. 

Maybe I could talk about procrastination. The trick I’ve found to get things done while being a very committed procrastinator is to take on a huge amounts of work. Once the deadlines for these projects start to get closer, I procrastinate by doing the less important ones instead of the big due-very-soon ones. It means that a handful of things get done well ahead of schedule while the most important ones get done the day before, or sometimes on the same day that they’re due. 

I work well under immense pressure, but I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint hearted. People don’t want to hear that kind of thing though, they want real advice and I don’t blame them. 

I don’t think anyone would pay to hear me say these things, and if they did they’d certainly feel like I’d just robbed them after it. The thing with Ted Talks is that they tend to be profound and insightful. Two things both me and my writings are definitely not known for. But is there hidden side of me that perhaps even I don’t know about yet? 

After much soul-searching, convinced that I must be a man who contains multitudes, I have come to the conclusion that I’m not. I’m just here for a laugh. 

Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find only more nonsense. Maybe that could be packaged up and presented to people as something profound. ‘At the end ae the day,’ I like to say to my pals when they come to me with a problem. ‘It’s just wan ae they wans int it? Wit’s done is done.’ While that may be a nothing statement, saying words without actually saying anything of substance, there’s a certain comfort to it. It’s like a soothing, comforting verbal cuddle. ‘Och, it’ll be fine,’ is another one I often say to them. And 99 times out of a hundred, it does turn out to be fine. 

Lockdown’s almost over and we all have the chance to go out into the world again with a fresh start. Let’s charge on and make the most of it. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.