The quaint and the quirky

“A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.” – Willy Wonka

This quote is, of course, taken from Roald Dahl’s immortal children’s tale, Charlie and the great glass elevator*. I re-read this story recently (yes, I still read childrens’ books) and the above phrase leapt out at me. Perhaps it is because there is a kind of nonsense – childlike and playful – that appeals to me.

I notice quaint and quirky things, like this silly phrase from Roald Dahl. I like strange little ornaments and decorations, like this clock below. I saw it in a restaurant. I thought it was an entirely appropriate decoration to hang on the wall there.

I like these things not just for their quirkiness per se, but for the inspiration they provide. They are story stimuli. Take the example of the eating clock. I immediately think of this clock as having a mind of its own. This clock has an appetite. This clock uses the attached cutlery to eat things.

You can take this idea and run with it. Does the clock speak? Who are its friends? What does a clock like to eat? Does it go on adventures? You get the idea. I begin to imagine a whole world constructed around that unique clock.

It seems I am always coming across quaint and quirky things. Unusual lamp stands in restaurants. Stories written on bathroom walls (the interesting ones, not the offensive ones). Unexpected collectables in friends’ houses. Random litter on the street. The world around us is furnished with these creative delights.

Here is another example that I found in a little café restroom:

I was inspired by this quaint touch in a retro bathroom. Who was the bright spark that thought a phone receiver would make a sensible door handle? It works perfectly. It also gets me wondering about the world of the phone handle. What is it like to live stuck to a door? Does the phone handle have any greater aspirations in life? With whom would it share these desires?

Even the familiar, taken-for-granted things around me everyday can surprise me. The antics of my pet cat, for instance. It never ceases to amaze me how she can find new things to scratch or new cozy spots for a snooze. The birds outside my window catch my eye with their chasing and hunting games. I can go for a walk and a flower drops unexpectedly into my hair as I pass under a tree.

These are gifts to a writer. They have the ability to suddenly take me out of my world and into theirs. They arouse my curiosity and soon I want to tell a story about them, to enter their world and poke around a little. This is my idea of fun.

Writing can at times be a serious endeavour. There is a lot of technique to be applied to the writing itself, not to mention the business side of sharing your words with other people. But it is also fun.

The quaint and the quirky remind me of this. They keep me grounded in my writing and they bring joy to the task of creating something new with words. Sometimes I have to work at my writing. But it is essentially playtime.


What quirky things have you come across in your world recently? What things inspire you to write? Comment below!


* Dahl R 1972 Charlie and the great glass elevator, Puffin Books, London, England.

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