Mr Brightside: Quoting and perfect moments

Dan Leigh 12 May 2014

The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.
– Hector, 'The History Boys'

We had been trudging since dawn, and had just reached the halfway point of a three-week endeavour. The heat and the hills were beginning to take their toll. Stooping under the weight of our whole lives stuffed into backpacks, morale sank with the rising sun.

Then we reached the watchtower. They had told us that we would rest when we got there. Most of us collapsed to the earth, camelback tubes flailing around the blisters where our lips used to be.  But some braved the flight of stairs to the top of the tower.

We made it to the top, somehow. Limbs groped railings and slipped in sweat. But then I looked up. The sun was swimming over the green Indian hills, igniting their powerful beauty. The purity of the sky was stunning, and suddenly I saw everything come together. I turned to my weary comrade and, with a worn smile, said, ‘Simba, all the land the light touches, will one day be your kingdom.

I ballsed it up by trying to repeat this about an hour later at the next watchtower, but that first moment was the best thing I have ever done. My gap yah in Indiah trekking through Keralah was totally worth it.

There are few better feelings than when life orchestrates a moment that can be epitomised by a quote. Referencing movies, TV shows, books, and songs is always good fun, but bearing in mind my previous column on irony and sincerity, when you can truly and sincerely experience the feeling behind a quote, it’s simply awesome.

The above Lion King example of course doesn’t completely fall into this category, as I cannot say that I truly empathised with Mufasa as he lovingly educated his young prince. Yet I definitely felt some of the pride and epicness that accompanied that scene, as all the elements of the moment fused together for one transcendent second.

The quote from Hector in The History Boys illustrates this perfectly however. Memorable quotes are often succinct and artistic ways of expressing particular emotions, thoughts or feelings. When you get the opportunity to properly identify with one, the thrill of recognition and understanding is pretty powerful. Using this example is an example of what I have been talking about in itself – I personally identify with what Hector says about the power of identification.


Despite their reluctance, Hector gives his students poetic nuggets for every eventuality Credit: YouTube

So here are some moments and suitable quotes that you should look out for and grasp with both hands:

-Someone saying ‘I love you’, so you can say ‘I know’ (The Empire Strikes Back) – be careful with this one, but if it ends the relationship, they weren’t the right one for you.

-Seeing a plastic bag blowing in the wind, so you can say ‘sometimes there is so much beauty in the world, I can’t take it’ (American Beauty) – this one is often the subject of derision, but if you can actually feel this way when you see a Tesco bag flying around, you are incredibly lucky.

-Just before eating dinner, so you can say ‘as God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!’ (Gone with the Wind) – don’t overuse it though.

-Before typing in your PIN number, so you can say ‘a man must have a code’ (The Wire) – I think that’s what Bunk meant.

-Actually being able to say ‘we found love in a hopeless place’ (Rihanna) – just imagine if you were genuinely in a completely hopeless position in life, whatever it may be, and you then fell in love with someone, and this helped you move forward and start living again. A lot of these cheesey love song clichés are only really clichés because the vapid dullness of the music has robbed them of their meanings. To actually feel that way about a person must be extraordinary.