[Some more pleasant things for Moggie, who is drowning under the weight of some chemistry exams and a list of car repairs right now. THIS IS STILL YOUR FAULT MOGGIE. ALL OF IT.]

One thing I find particularly interesting about being able to read body language -- consciously, most people can do it as a sort of blind instinct -- is watching people who are seriously weird interact successfully with people who aren't. Some of the gestures and expressions we make seem to be innate, but a lot more of them are determined by our cultural background. There's an infinity of potential variant dialects of non-verbal communication, and if you happen to have developed an especially strange one, adjusting for mutual intelligibility can be a challenge. It can make your life pretty difficult if your movements say one thing to you and mean a totally different thing to the people around you, as the autistic spectrum people know all too well.

But every once in a while, someone with a really odd kinesic dialect runs into someone else who gets it almost automatically. The results tend to be enduring.

I've been posting a lot of Never Mind The Buzzcocks stuff, because it's all over the place, but Fielding does do -- I was about to say 'serious interviews', but I don't think he's ever quite managed one of those. Let's just say he does press with the co-creator of The Mighty Boosh, Julian Barratt. One thing I think is fairly obvious is that Barratt is not really fond of chat shows and the like. He's not super-terrified or anything, he just seems to think most of them are boring and very much work. Fielding generally does most of the talking. This in itself is not really unusual; it's a dynamic I see fairly often with friends who are being asked about shared work. The chattier one speaks on topics where they share knowledge and opinions and reasoning, and the quiet one only pipes up in the case of a question the other can't answer for some reason, or if the other has omitted a point they think is important. Barratt mostly speaks to questions about the music on The Mighty Boosh, which I gather is almost all his, although occasionally he does dig up an opinion that must be shared -- they were apparently exactly as unfond of Chelsea Lately as I was.

Barratt is considerably harder to get a bead on than Fielding, just because he doesn't like cameras for the sake of cameras, and he's not keen on just rambling. He's considerably more reserved than Fielding -- although, to be fair, I've seen boa constrictors who were less inclined to wind themselves in a friendly fashion around random people than Noel Fielding. The vast majority of the time they spend on camera together is in character, and the character of Howard Moon has been refined over the years into someone who grasps desperately at dignity, putting an obvious façade over the actor. Howard was considerably less standoffish, though, in some of their earlier stuff, which at least gives you an idea of what Barratt's comfortable with on stage.

When the two of them appear together on talk shows, the host invariably invites them to sit down on opposite sides of the guest couch. This, I find hilarious. It never works. Fielding is pretty animated when he talks, and every time he shifts, he shifts closer to his friend -- I don't think it's insecurity so much as it's just a kind of gravity. By the end of the interview, they're sharing a cushion, and it's always Barratt's. Barratt seems to have a pretty normal definition of personal space around most people, but Fielding is completely exempt.

Most people have kind of a friend-or-foe evaluation system for other people in their airspace. Foe is obvious -- when someone you don't like is hovering right over you, you tense up, move away, squirm, dodge, or at the very least look cold and unhappy and refuse to help them at all in their efforts to paw you,. Friend is more complicated, as there are usually grades of those, but in general, if someone is welcome to hug you or lean on you or pet your hair, you acknowledge them in some way. Lean into them, look at them, pat their hand, something. It's a piece of communication, there -- you're saying 'I'm paying attention, I've noticed you, you're okay'. You're typically aware of their movements and willing to cooperate, shifting if necessary to accommodate them.

Barratt and Fielding do neither. As far as I can tell, they simply don't notice. Fielding likes to curl up in chairs, and often winds up shoulder to shoulder with Barratt, or leaning a knee or an elbow on his leg. And then occasionally, stuff like this happens. Most people would've handled that by reaching around behind Fielding's head, possibly swinging the other arm over awkwardly if they needed a second hand, but nope. Easiest just to get both arms in position around him, apparently. Fielding doesn't react at all; he's busy paying attention to the phone.

That's not evaluating as friend (or even close trusted friend) so much as it is extension of self -- you neither dodge nor acknowledge your own limbs as a matter of course, after all. It's rare. I see it mostly in identical twins, where it seems to be part of what sometimes makes their interactions unsettling to others. They're both very lucky to have found that in a stranger, completely by accident, and at a time in their lives when they could actually make something of it. I don't know much about what Barrett was up to at the time, other than stand-up, but Fielding was young enough when they met that he apparently didn't realize how unusual it was until he had a go at collaborating with someone else later on.

Isn't that an odd thought? Think about what it would be like to meet your lifelong best friend while you were just starting out, and try to imagine later having the sudden realization that other people don't have this. One hell of a paradigm shift, and I'm not sure if it would be pleasant. It would certainly make you grateful.

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