Channelling John Lennon

There’s a common question to writers: where do you get your ideas?

Mr Kite PosterIn January 1967, John Lennon bought a 19th century circus poster from an antique shop in Sevenoaks.  Later, the content framed on Lennon’s wall became Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite.  A few words – even a fact or two – were changed for purposes of rhyme and scansion, but basically, on the Sgt Pepper album, the Beatles sang the poster.

It’s an example of a particular process of inspiration that starts from a definite point – in this case, the written word.  At its simplest, this is “found art” – taking something out of its original context and inviting the audience to think about it in a different way.

Roger McGough did this some time ago with a newspaper headline reading “Conservative government unemployment figures”.  He turned it into

Conservative Government.
Unemployment?
Figures.

Two full stops and a question mark and the meaning has changed from the headline of a factual report into a political comment.
Inspiration is rarely gifted so easily – or perhaps the inspiration is there but the art needs more work.  Jonathan Edgington’s eye fell upon an advertisement in the free paper Metro.  It’s a modern phenomenon.  British people don’t talk to strangers on trains, but seem quite happy to make a public announcement indicating their desire to do so.  By itself, the ad is incomplete: what happened next?  The only way for Jonathan to find out was to write it himself, in the play of The Slim Blonde Beauty.The Slim Blonde Beauty

 

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