Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thought for the Day - Oscar the Grouch & watching the way we talk

The last of four recorded Thought for the Days that were being broadcast on April Sunday mornings just before the 8am news in Kim Lenaghan's programme.

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A few years ago I interviewed Oscar the Grouch. You know, the grumpy, green hairy creature who lives in a trash can on Sesame Street.

For over 40 years the man inside puppets like Big Bird and Oscar has been Caroll Spinney. He had brought Oscar over to Belfast to take part in our local children’s TV production Sesame Tree.

I chatted with Caroll for a while and then he reached under the table and reappeared with Oscar. And so began a surreal ten minutes of conversation with the shaggy puppet.

Grouch by name, and grouch by nature, Oscar likes to grumble.

He prefers broken things to objects that work.

Asked about his impressions of Belfast he moaned: “There’s only one problem with Belfast: it’s much too attractive. Very beautiful city. I like things that are more run down.”

And like any tourist in these parts, Oscar had made the pilgrimage up to the Giants’ Causeway. He sounded uncharacteristically impressed: “I wandered around on the various levels, and I climbed all over it. I went up one side and down the other. Beautiful!”

Mmmm. His grouchiness didn’t seem to be turned up to eleven. Either Oscar was suffering from jetlag or he was secretly more mellow than he liked to let on.

Maybe he’d been reading Ephesians 4. “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

I think, deep down in his trash can Oscar the Grouch understood this. Despite his negativity, begrudgingly he knew to look for the positive.

Then I asked Oscar my killer question: “You’re grouchy, you’re a hoarder, you like a nap, I’ve got to ask, are you related to my wife?” Caroll gave me a wry smile and I hastened to add that the question originated with my wife. He gave me a signed photograph to take home to her!

“Watch the way you talk … Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

Maybe I could learn from Oscar.

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