Lovable Eccentrics

11CCFHi everyone! Today I decided I’d talk about some of my favourite characters in fiction–those eccentrics we all love.

Quirky, unexpected, and sometimes downright crazy, eccentrics are essentially people who are completely themselves and do not care what anyone else thinks.

In the classic, COLD COMFORT FARM, Flora Poste the 1920s socialite, visits a farm full of eccentrics, including the old lady who saw “something nasty in the wood shed”. That’s a catch phrase in our household to this day. Flora sets the entire family to rights, making them less eccentric than they were before, which is a bit of a pity, really. I think one of the best qualities of the English is their high tolerance for people who are a bit odd.

11FIThen there’s Jenny Crusie’s wonderful FAKING IT, where the heroine’s sister has a split personality. Eve is the good girl by day. Louise is the bad girl who dresses up and sings at her gay ex-husband’s club by night.Β 

Bertie Wooster might be more an example of a certain sort of gentleman of leisure of that time than a true eccentric, but to us his mad exploits seem distinctly loony. Plus, he’s surrounded by crazy aunts and uncles and cronies with more hair than sense and too much time and money on their hands. Lucky he has good old Jeeves to save the day!

11JeevesEccentrics are terrific fun in fiction but what about real life? Some days I think I’m the only sane one in my immediate vicinity. And then I start to wonder if it’s me or them!

Who’s your favourite eccentric in fiction? Do you live with any eccentrics?

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Comments

31 Comments

  • Jane says:

    Hello Christina,
    My favorite eccentric is Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. He has so many quirks. I don’t live with any eccentrics, but I’m sure there’s one relative who would quality as an eccentric.

  • Helen says:

    Christina

    I have to agree with Jane I love all the Agatha Christie books and Hercule is very good not sure if I live with any but I must say my Hubby is always himself never changes his ways for anyone πŸ™‚

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • LOL, Helen, mine is like that too. I look at him some times and think, “You’re wearing THAT?” but I don’t say anything because that will make him even more determined!

  • Amy Conley says:

    I guess I’d have to say I’m the eccentric, good or bad, I’m not sure. I just know I’m the “different” one. In fiction, wow I don’t know so many to choose from, Hamish MacBeth would be a good one, although that’s television so does he still count? OK let’s give it to Robert Carlyse himself for Hamish, THE FULL MONTY, and of course on ONVE UPON A TIME. In every single show he plays someone a little “off’, be it good or bad or somewhere in the middle.

  • Mary Preston says:

    I had an aunt who lived with the fairies. She wore long tea dresses & flitted around the house silently in bare feet. She used to scare me when I was a child. She had a habit of just turning up behind you without a sound. She was harmless, but still.

  • Jennifer Tanner says:

    Hands down, Mame Dennis aka Auntie Mame. I’ve read the book and watched the film version with Rosalind Russell a zillion times. Everyone needs a charming and crazy aunt.

  • Quantum says:

    My favorite eccentric is Shela Sabatini in ‘Surgical Spirit’. She is the only lady surgeon at the Gillies Hospital. She is a man hater, dedicated to maximizing patient throughput, and upsetting all the other male surgeons . Underneath the bluster there is a delicate feminine heart but it takes all the skill of her anesthetist Jonathon to uncover it! LOL

    I have an eccentric grand daughter ….. but I’m sure she will grow out of it …. with a little guidance from me! LOL

  • Christina, fun post! Yes, I live with an eccentric. Everyone at my house is one, including me. I don’t think the dh or the boy would like me to rat them out, but I’ll share that I still read comic books. When the then-future dh and I were discussing marriage, I informed him (to see if he would scare, figuring it was better to know up front) that the comics and I were a package deal. Lucky for me, he loves popular culture.

    More young women read comics now than when I was in my 20s and 30s, so this probably would not be eccentric behavior in someone younger.

    Cold Comfort farm is a great movie–kind of weird but fun, with Rufus Sewell and Ian McKellan in the cast. We loved Jeeves and Wooster on public TV. And now, of course, there’s Sherlock.

    I gravitate toward movies with explosions, and they don’t generally leave a lot of screen time for eccentricity. I’m trying to think of a movie that qualifies, but I’m drawing a nlank. Maybe later.

    • That’s drawing a _blank_. Not nlank. *sigh*

    • Actually, that’s right, Nancy! Not a lot of time for quirky with all that boom. I think someone should remedy that situation. Surely there’s room for eccentrics everywhere.

      You were definitely ahead of your time with comics. Very noble of you to be so up-front about it when you were accepting the proposal!

      • Thanks, Christina. I’d seen too many people in fandom married to people who resented the time, the energy, the money, the storage space, whatever, the fannish hobby involved. I was pretty determined not to walk that path.

        John Malkovich plays a weird spy in the movie RED. He might qualify as eccentric. With explosions. πŸ™‚

  • Anna Sugden says:

    LOL Christine – I think is some families, ‘normal’ is the eccentric! That’s true in mine, I think – though whether I’m the normal one is hard to say!

    Saw a fab performance of Jeeves and Wooster in London a few months ago – with Matthew Macfadyan as Jeeves. Hysterical!

    I’m also drawing a blank on fictional eccentrics, but I think my favourite is Mozzie from White Collar.

  • Oh Christine…I adore eccentrics. They make life so much more enjoyable.

    And good lord I’ve had a few in my family.

    My Grandmother was so much fun. She knew the gossip about everyone in the area. I thought she was spectacular when I was a kid, sort of like the all knowing Carson. But then one day I was coming down from the upstairs at her house and there she was sitting with the phone to her ear and her hand over the mouthpiece. Why? Because they still had a party line and she was happily listening to other people’s conversations. πŸ™‚

    Then there was my Uncle. A man with too much money, no children to spend it on…and a tendency to love a “good deal”. If there was one shirt on sale at the discount store for $1 then he’d buy all of them on the table, no matter the size or color. Now he did try to give them to people. Couldn’t understand why my 13 year old son didn’t want a pair of men’s WHITE patent leather shoes. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    I took these two relatives and melded them together for the grandmother in Close To Home.

    As for fictional eccentrics…Augie from SAVING GRACE by Julie Garwood comes to mind. He was this little old fellow who kept hitting a stone around with a stick on the moors. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ This was a historical and I think he started the game of golf.

    • Oh, Suz, that’s priceless! Love the idea of your grandma being the font of gossipy knowledge and LOL on the white patent leather shoes. Gah! You had excellent material there.

      As for the golfing eccentric, gold is a pretty darn eccentric game, come to think of it!

  • Becke Turner says:

    Christine,
    Based on popular TV, everyone loves eccentrics. Elementary-modern day Sherlock Holmes with Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu is great fun.

    I’m clueless on if I would add that label to myself. To me, it just means different and admire anyone who thinks outside the box. I don’t have to agree, but they make you think and consider alternatives. And that is good for everyone.

    We don’t need more clones!
    b

    • Hi Becke! I’ve seen trailers for the Johnny Lee Miller Holmes but haven’t seen the episodes. Sherlock is a classic quirky one, isn’t he? I think you’re right–what is normal anyway? We all have quirks. Some people just hide them better than others, I think.

  • In the South I think there is a rule requiring every family to have at least one eccentric. And in my family … I AM that eccentric. I am pleased to say my nephew still describes me as the “cool” aunt aka the “wicked weird aunt.”

    For twenty or so years I kept a menagerie of large snakes, large lizards, tortoises, frogs and spiders. My house was a young boy’s delight and my nephew loved to visit and “help” with the reptiles. When my last big snake passed away about ten years ago (Big Mama – 13 foot 100 lb burmese python) I decided not to acquire any more reptiles as they can be high maintenance, but my nephew still remembers those years fondly.

    I did wildlife rescue when I was in graduate school so one never knew what sort of raccoon, possum, skunk or bird of prey one might find in my bathroom during those years.

    Now I have too many shoes and too many books (according to most people!) And I live in the middle of nowhere alone save for a menagerie of dogs and one cat. I listen to opera and on Sunday afternoons I often open the windows and crank up the speakers.

    And my coworkers think I am weird because I will stop what I am doing to whip out a stack of index cards and scribble on them furiously only to put them back in my pocket and go back to what I was doing. When people look at me strangely, my coworkers just say “She’s a writer. She does that.” as if that is all the explanation necessary. And I guess it probably is!

    • Louisa, you definitely qualify as a lovable eccentric! OMG on the reptiles! I never knew that about you. And I’m laughing and nodding at the index cards. Personally I just go quiet and my husband will say, “Are you doing thinking now?”

  • Susan Sey says:

    I do love a good eccentric in my fiction. Movies, too. That said? In real life?

    Not so much.

    I live with a whole bunch of them, & let me tell you, being the eternal straight man is not easy. Way more fun to be nuts.

    I’m going to give it a go.

    • Wow, Susan, you’re one of the funniest people I know, so if you’re the straight man in the family… Wow.

      Let me know how you get on with acting nuts. Your family won’t know what hit them!

  • Carol Cork says:

    Christina, my favourite eccentric is Bertie Wooster and I loved the TV series.

    Regrettably, I don’t know any eccentrics unless you might class my husband as one. He’s currently building a model railway on one of our bookshelves!

    • Carol, isn’t Bertie Wooster a scream? Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry did such a magnificent job in that series. And I don’t know if building model railways qualifies as eccentric but I’m surprised you’d give up any shelf space for something other than books πŸ™‚

  • Dianna Love says:

    I love the eccentric stories. What a fun blog this has been. Lousia, you never fail to surprise me. I am so glad you’re a writer. πŸ™‚