Winston Churchill told us that “history is written by the victors” so perhaps, we can conclude that the losers are relegated from the big picture. The victories are not theirs, they don’t write the books, their defeats and heartaches make up the background noise of a glorious success, but the story is not their own.
And in that sense, we all love a hardluck story of a plucky little underdog, because it’s a story we’ve all known; we’ve all failed from time to time. It’s what you do with those failures that makes character.
In the telling of our own stories, perhaps we throw in an extra set of challenges, or a pithy rejoinder where, in actuality, there was little more than silence, but why not? Everyone loves the underdog.
A standard story of the kitchen sink and pots to wash does little for a sense of longing and belonging, of kinship and desire. Why not add a modicum of the witless, effortless success of lesser men, or a witch’s curse, to make a better story?
Sometimes, even the best of people think they occupy the position of underdog. They may tell their tales (and they often do) of the underqualified taking their promotion, or of small-minded work colleagues or ex-husbands taunting and goading them for a reaction.
I was told once of a pension-aged partner discussing a birthday present over dinner with friends; the birthday present he’d bought for his lady required batteries. She was mortified. He was victorious.
In fiction, she might have put crushed glass in his salad. In Exmouth, she just put up with it, hoping her unflappable kindness would make her a hero.
Call me cynical, I don’t think she’ll write the book.