Having quietly slipped past my second anniversary on WordPress last month I have been paying a little extra attention to what it is I am doing here exactly. My last post was titled ‘Nostalgia’ and I worried that this is what my blog has become. That is not what I intended it to be. I intended it to be forward looking – although as all drivers will know, it pays to look behind you before you move off – nobody wants to pull out in front of the juggernaut that is The Past. There is nothing quite so unnerving as being surprised by yesterday.
The blog is, and always has been, intended to describe life as it appears through my eyes. New life through jaudiced old eyes. It has, of course, been shaped to some extent over the past twenty four months by the blogs of others – inkbiotic, for instance, keeps me constantly entertained with her brilliantly personal view of the world – I would like to write like her but whilst imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is still something that I have to vigilantly resist. As much as I would like to be able to describe the world as she does, I think that admiration is good, but plagiarism is generally frowned upon. So if you continue to read this rag-tag collection into year three, you will get just me – I’m sorry.
I love the process of writing these posts because they allow me a space within which I can take a proper look at myself – and attempt to do something about it. If I have the tendency towards pomposity, it gives me the perfect opportunity to pop it. Nobody buys The Beano for sincerity. I try very hard to keep my opinions to myself. Everyone is entitled to opinions. Everyone is entitled to not be bothered by those of others if they choose. Opinions are easily manipulated. I am not sufficiently assured of the verity of my own opinions to want to fight for them. I’ve never been much cop in boxing gloves. My nose is much too big to be spread across my face. My opinions are there, you will be able to divine them if you choose to, but they are my own. You might even be able to change them, but you will never know. I might say that ‘proper’ dark chocolate is the best, but I’ll still be eating Galaxy.
Sometime ago, the wonderful Calmgrove speculated that I write from a starting point, via bullet points, to a pre-destined conclusion. I wish he was right; that I could be so organised. I would love that to be the case. Sadly, it is not. I actually set off from my point of departure with no real perception at all of where I am going until I reach the end which, ironically, is generally very close to the beginning. I don’t go via bullet points because once I have started to wander, I can seldom find my way back. Somehow, as each post reaches its natural end, the conclusion dangles itself in front of me and I grab it. There is no alchemy – just Pixies.
I would like to write shorter. I love what dumbestblogger does, for instance, but I’m far too full of hot air. Words just spill out of me. I can’t help it. Everything I have to say gets draped in hundreds of the bloomin’ things. Whenever I do manage to write short, I proofread long. My red biro additions often have a higher wordcount than the original draft. The first rewrite is when I add most of the ‘jokes’ – the second rewrite is when I take them out again.
I do like the Little Fictions strand, I’m actually quite proud of some of those little stories, but they’re much harder work. They require pre-thought. Beginning, middle and end in a thousand words is, for me anyway, never easy to achieve. Sometimes I can hook into the mind-set much better than others. When they disappear for a week or two, it almost certainly is because I don’t have a story to tell, or if I do, it starts to drag on beyond ideal blog length*. I enjoyed resurrecting the Odds and Sods of the last few months, but I think they have run their course. They are not really the me that writes this stuff today. I remember the man that wrote these things and he was nice to visit, but his cynicism gets me down. I have managed to get him to lighten up a little. He’s barely depressed these days.
Personally, I really enjoyed writing the early pastiches of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Winnie the Pooh etc, but nobody ever read them. I don’t know if they felt that they were not original. More likely just not funny. Poetry is always the most successful thing to post, but it is such hard work. I am so tied to the rumty-tum of scan and rhyme that I drive myself mad with them. If I can get in and out, pinching a laugh in four lines, that’s great. If not, I find myself trying to maintain order in something that creeps on inexorably to Iliad length, with even less idea than Homer of where it’s all heading. Besides, there are so many, so much better at it than I: crispinunderfelt, james, obbverse, scribblans and many more. The list is depressingly long.
My favourite part of the platform is without doubt the ‘chat’ of the comments boards. So many great people from all four corners of our benighted globe (eh?). When I started this, I thought that what I wrote was very parochial. I didn’t expect anyone from further abroad than Watford to get it. If I am honest, I was extremely doubtful about Londoners. What I have found is that my ‘readers’ come from all over the world, a high proportion from USA and India. I absolutely love this – the opportunity to ‘talk’ to people and not just listen to what the news tells us. To know that we are all uniquely similar is incredibly comforting. The realisation that happy, jokey ‘conversation’ is the universal language is a joy to me**. How to stop wars? Just let people talk. It’s not rocket science. The problem is that those in power like building rockets.
Anyway, my two year anniversary allowed me the opportunity to decide whether I wanted to push on for a third year and, all in all, I think I will. Hopefully you might hang in there too. The Monday and Friday posts have finished with the end of Lockdown #2, but they might be back when I find myself out of work in March and almost certainly firmly ensconced at the back of a vastly corpulent, post-covid unemployment queue. Having been in work non-stop for well over forty years, I have not quite got myself adjusted to that one yet. Being out of work might well give me new experiences to write about, but I hope it won’t last until anniversary three.
If it does, I’ll try to improve my poetry and I promise to burn the red pen…
*The magical distance that experience has taught me, no blog is ever read beyond.