Thursday, 14 November 2013

Three Useless People I have known

I have met or known three useless people in my life.

The first I met at a family party back in 1993. I was told that this 2nd cousin had come over from Princeton University in the USA. He was an academic and into maths. When people had gathered, I saw this rather shy and retiring man standing quietly on his own. I've done a maths degree so normally I would have gone up to him and asked questions about all things mathematical. But he seemed to me, without having spoken to him, well, just boring. So, I talked to others instead.

I later found out that it was just a day or so later that he, Andrew Wiles, gave a world famous lecture at Cambridge University where he announced his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. You can read all about him in Wikipedia here. What I would now give to speak to him, to ask him about his amazing and gargantuan journey to crack a puzzle that had tested mathematicians for centuries and many said could never be solved.

The second useless person I met was in my year at school. He was a singer in a band, and if I remember the name correctly, its name was 'Chaos'. This title, for me, only begins to describe the ear-bendingly awfulness of the music they played. The singer wore a tutu and I really wondered how this strange boy would cope in the wider world after school.

The singer of this band, Neil Gaiman, is now a world famous writer. You can read about him here.

The third useless person I saw was a comedian on TV. To me, he was foul mouthed, lacked anything interesting to say, and above all was not funny. "What a waste of time it is to listen to this man", I thought.

And then I read and heard his commentaries about life, the universe and everything. Amazing stuff. So compassionate. And written or spoken like a true jester, someone who can see things from a fresh perspective. Click here to see a wonderful interview that Russell Brand gave with Jeremy Paxman.

I do not say all of this because these three people are any better than anyone else. Because I believe that everyone has something to contribute, something to say, and is valuable. I say all of this because they are three lessons for me not to judge anyone. To listen, observe and understand. There is always so much more to a person if I take the time to listen and find out their true worth.


  1. Well written Ian and so true. Thanks for posting.

  2. Thank you for sharing this Ian. What you say is very true, and needs saying and hearing it over and over again just as a good reminder. Thank you for reminding me.