Who is Your Character?

Feb 20, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Creativity, Motorcycle adventures, travel blog




One of those delving questions that people like to ask when getting to know another, is: “If you were a TV or movie character who would you be?” or “if there was a movie based on your life who would you want to play you?”.  It’s a fun question, because you want the answer to be interesting (and in my case adventurous), yet at the same time be reflective of the real (or near real) you.

For the past half decade at least I’ve answered I’d want Ewan McGregor to play me, such was his inspiration in the motorbike adventure documentary ‘The Long Way Round’, and the subsequent desire to learn to ride and go on adventures with my septuagenerian father.  Of course I could have equally picked Charlie Bornmann from the same series, but I don’t think I’m as funny as Charlie, and of course one tends to gravitate towards the more handsome Ewan.

In the last few months I’ve also felt that Andrew McCarthy could play me in mind and spirit.  Not because of what many might assume, his teen performance in 16 Candles, but rather because of his lust for adventure, admirable writing skills as a travel journalist, and because of his expressed angst in the struggle between a life of freedom on the road and the full development of a relationship.  I connect deeply with with McCarthy’s book ‘The Longest Way Home’.  Interesting the similarities in title with Ewan’s doco!

As a kid of course there was the aspiration for the usual heroes – Superman (the flying part is what I wanted, and still do), and the Six Million Dollar Man (the fast running talent and the cool sound effects that accompanied feats of strength).  Today, however, I realized it is another character found in my past that is perhaps more appropriate – Tintin.

I read the Tintin series of comic books as a kid.  Now I have to say that from the start there were aspects of Tintin I never liked.  The quiff of red hair, or the pantaloons that must have made his ankles cold, the rosy red cheeks that looked like he was wearing blush, or the ratty little white dog.  But I did like his job – a journalist, seemingly a totally freelance one.  His life was one long adventure, usually exploring some unknown land.

The 23 Tintin books were written from 1929 to 1975, by Georges Remi under the name Herge’.  I’m belying my age when I say I read them mostly from 1967 (I was a voracious young reader) to probably the mid 70s, after which I became more interested in Asterix, Marvel comics, and biographies by the naturalist Gerald Durrell.  Yet it was only today that I really grasped the strongest connection with Tintin.  The clarity is owed to an excellent article by Lev Grossman in the December 2011 edition of Conde Naste Traveler magazine.  I was re-reading the article as reference material for an adventure kids book I’ve been working on, inspired by my real life Godchildren Jaz and Zack.  Grossman’s humorous insight into the Tintin character highlighted his nationality neutralism, and the idea of being a “citizen of the world” is something that must originally have been inspired by Tintin.  Grossman identifies that Herge’ actually reveled in teh physical and mechanical act of travel in its pure sense – getting from one place to another.  The means of transport were varied and often became adventurous in themselves – planes, trains, automobiles, opium-filled ships, cars, submarine, animals, speedboat, seaplane (seemingly Herge’s personal favorite), and even a floating coffin.  My own initial long haul travel experience was at the age of 4 on the 6 week journey by ship from England when my family emigrated to Australia (which cost all of 10 pounds).  Since that time I’ve felt quite at home as soon as I get settled in my plane seat.  Most importantly, Tintin was a character that actively looked to explore the world that was not known, to investigate rich cultures foreign to his own, and to tell the stories of the experience.  That I understand.

So, I’m going to work on my quiff.  Just don’t expect me to get a ratty dog.


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