I have just shredded today’s blog. It was preachy, and I didn’t like it. I read it through aloud, as is my habit, and I realised that it sounded like a sermon. I don’t know quite what I was thinking as I wrote it, but quite frankly, I need to keep it to myself.
I know that I began by fulminating about occasional ‘readers’ who are bent upon advising me how I can massively increase my readership, simply by changing everything I say and the way in which I say it, and it developed into a protracted whining rant about the terpsichorean chorus of nay-saying harpies that attempt to constrict us all, when it occurred to me that the communities of hate that currently appear to flourish online are quite unlike any other form of mass-zealotry I can recall in my lifetime (not that I would be able to actually recall anything that was not in my lifetime – but you know what I mean)… Anyway, it has gone now. It is hamster bedding – or would be, if we had one – it would take the world’s most determined (and least discerning) plagiarist to make anything of it now, and I am just beginning to coax my temper back down from the shelf.
All of which leaves me here, staring at a blank template, scratching my head, trying to decide how I should fill it…
I am, by nature, a squirrel – well, except for the sharp teeth, the bushy tail and the tendency to nest in people’s lofts – when I have a surplus (in my case incoherent twaddle rather than acorns) I bury it away. Unfortunately, like my sciuridael friend, when famine hits, I am seldom able to locate my subterranean morsels. Like Citizen Nutkin, the bottom has generally rotted out of anything I do find and I am left to ponder why I thought it was worth a decent burial in the first place. Anyway, it is at times like this, that I have a gentle rootle around in this larder. Occasionally, I find something that I have forgotten about completely and reading it, as if for the first time, it might make me laugh. I am capable of the killer one-liner from time to time (not today – obviously). Mostly, however, I am capable of the kind of stuff that cries out to be buried and forgotten – it seldom improves with age – and more often than not, this is what I find in extremis.
In the past, I would write something and then spend hours correcting the grammar and syntax before messing it all up by adding jokes. These days, I don’t bother so much about the grammar – or the jokes. I try very hard to maintain some variety in what I publish here. I fight against the tendency to develop an ‘identifiable style’ – I am pretty certain that I have cultivated a fundamental lack of it – to me, there is no fun to be had in treading the same path every day. Inevitably, words pop into my head in that micro-second before I find sleep. I still keep a book and a pen by me bed – although these days the book is usually a Jeremy Clarkson, which I keep for the sole purpose of underlining all the offensive passages – you’d be surprised how time can fly. In my head I play with a number of differing strands with which I weave this blog. ‘Getting On’ is my macramé plant hanger; a cranial crocheted blanket; a sort of Bayeux Embroidery (like a tapestry, but smaller and very much less consequential). Sometimes it’s about how I think fictional characters might face up to old age; sometimes it’s about how a real character should face up to old age and sometimes, it is all just a little fiction. Mostly, however, it is about me, not intentionally so, but a huge amount of navel-gazing does seem to occupy these pages. It is this umbilical lint that tends to get buried. Not always because it isn’t suitable for use, but often because, having just bubbled out of my psyche, it is not always ‘reliable’.
You see, psychologically, I only have myself for reference and I am about as unreliable a ‘control’ as you could ever wish to meet. I have the social skills of a gastropod and the conversational nous of a newt. My capacity for ‘getting it wrong’ is unrivalled. In the realms of the socially inept, I have few peers outside of Peter Griffin.
This is what I have to contemplate – that the voices inside my head are what keep me astride the tightrope, and that these voices will remain in a permanent state of conflict. The voice telling me I can and the voice telling me I can’t; the voice telling me I should and the voice telling me I shouldn’t; the voice telling me that I am in and the voice telling me I am out and, very occasionally, the voice telling me to shake it all about; the voice telling me I am chalk and the voice telling me I am cheese. Two voices attached to the Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote of rational reasoning: the entire rationale of my eventual decision-making process being dependent upon the effectiveness of the products supplied by The ACME Supplies Company.
Like everybody else (this is my belief and you will not persuade me otherwise) I have an internal dialogue that helps to guide me through my daily life, and when one of these competing voices becomes dominant – maybe as a result of caffeine, alcohol, general disaffection, having spent a shitty day decorating the kitchen or Armageddon on the news – what I write tends to lose balance. The internal conversations that flit between the synapses of my frontal lobes are seldom the stuff of entertainment. For much of the time in fact they are actually monologues – even my subconscious is anti-social most of the time. The interminable whine of self-doubt, although ever-present, asserts itself only when I give myself the time to think – so I tend not to do that too often. The voices that jostle for my attention are only heard when I am alone. The need to drown out the nagging little mental manifesto is my reason to avoid silence. It is the reason why I am always so happy with the grandkids. It’s the chatter of life that keeps the pointless, badgering, mithering nonsense inside my head at some kind of manageable distance.
Silence is the void into which all the turmoil of the universe swirls before gurgling down the plughole of inconsequentiality. Like a new record by Simply Red.
Silence is seldom shared, and when it is, it mostly ends up in the shredder.
Turn your back – And you might understand – Become your destiny – And you’ll be a lucky man ‘Killing With Kindness’ (Orzabal, Smith, Pettus) Tears for Fears