MY father believed that everyone possessed a talent of some description and regardless of background or education; each is born with a skill that sets them apart from the crowd.
Being of average academic ability, with neither an artistic nor practical bent, I doubted that statement, because skill and talent to me were synonymous with success and making money. Much later on I realised that the true meaning of success goes much deeper.
Dad worked in a factory all his life, but in his spare time he would retire to his shed and knock up a piece of furniture or model aeroplane. And occasionally he would produce a watercolour painting of some rural landscape. He was no Hepplewhite or Rembrandt, but he had a certain talent for these things and more to the point, it gave him pleasure.
At the Orihuela Medieval Market, I was fascinated by a bloke who entertained the crowds by sticking flaming sticks into his mouth and blowing out long plumes of liquid fire.
I spent an interesting hour in the bar with him, trying to understand why anyone would choose fire eating as a way of life – although I kept a respectable distance between us, in case he decided to light up a ciggie.
As bizarre as it all sounded, he is good at what he does and he travels to other locations in Spain and Europe throughout the year to take part in similar festivals. He admitted it is a hard life, but he is thoroughly content with his lot, and by definition therefore is successful.
The king of them all though, was surely Joseph Pujol, a Frenchman who went under the stage name of Le Pétomane. His act was quite unique and he became something of a celebrity in his day as a renowned flatulist.
In other words he fluffed on stage for money.
He was a baker by trade, and he would often entertain his customers by imitating musical instruments as they waited for their French sticks. Personally, I would never be able to look a custard slice in the face again if my baker insisted on trumping his way through Frère Jacques as he was serving me.
Some of his specialities included sound effects of cannon fire and thunderstorms. He was able to blow a candle out at 10 paces, and at his peak, he appeared regularly at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
He died in 1945 at the age of 88 and was buried and not cremated, presumably on the basis that this would have been far too risky.
My dad was right though. We all possess a talent of some sort, as off the wall as it might be.