Fry’s the limit

Laurence Inman on having it all yet having nothing and has some words of advice for Stephen Fry.


S Fry


As Stephen Fry is the first to point out, it’s odd the way he keeps trying to kill himself. He was musing about it on some plod cast last week: ‘How can you have it all and still want to end it all?’

And it’s true; he’s got everything anyone would think they’d need for happiness: shedloads of money, nice places to live, friends by the busload, attention. Lots of that. I’ve seen it. He was in the audience at Stratford some years ago – All’s Well That Ends Well, Judi Dench played the Countess – and people literally queued up afterwards to talk drivel to him.

But it’s never enough to revitalise the bad marriage he’s got with Life. It can never silence the whispers that tell him it’s all down to luck, or the fact that all his old chums at Cambridge are now in charge of the apparatus which provides him with employment, or that he makes a very, very little go a long way, or that his smooth confidence and his easy quoting of Chesterton (!) only impress the shrieking ninnies he surrounds himself with on his telly shows.

Here’s a quote for you Steve: ‘Throwing away then all things, hold to these only which are few.’

That’s Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher.

And it’s true. Having more things, wanting even more than you’ve got after that, can bring only misery, depression or, in Steve’s case, bi-polarism.

It’s all in Eliot:

   Because I know that time is always time

                        And place is always and only place

                       And what is actual is actual only for one time

                       And only for one place

                       I rejoice that things are as they are…..

In my life there are just three things which, when it comes to truth, reality and anything approaching satisfaction, never fail to deliver the goods. In no particular order, they are:

  1. Running. The amount of pleasure-enlightenment you get from running is in exact proportion to the amount of physical effort you put in. Running cannot lie. No amount of imagination can make you more than a sixty-three-year-old bloke trudging round the park if that is what you are. Glancing into the big windows of the Arts Centre by the lake taught me that. Four hours ago.
  2. Literature. England in the Seventeenth Century gives me everything I’ll ever need.
  3. Parenthood. I first became a parent in 1976. Always done exactly what it says on the tin. Being in a family, housing and feeding them, cultivating their gardens – nothing but joy.

Everything else: cars, phones, telly, holidays, people and their opinions, the past, restaurants, lying toe-rag politicians – they can all shove a large stick of dynamite up their arses while I look for a match.