Having not written a usable word for more than a week now, I have decided upon drastic methods to get things going. Not only have I changed my pen, I have also changed the colour of my ink. I know what you’re thinking and, yes, you’re right, I am a man without fear. If pushed into a corner by the Gods of Not Being Able to Tie Down a Single Amusing Thought, I will resort to any method of turning things around. I have faced down the devil, twisted his nose and flicked the lobe of his ear. If he thinks that he can make what is currently flitting around between my ears any more sterile than it already is well, he’s welcome to give it a go. It could only spice up my day. I have grown tired of staring at a blank sheet of paper.
Yes, I did say paper and yes, I have tried staring at a blank laptop screen instead – it didn’t help: it just reminded me that I need my eyes testing. I have tried lined foolscap, plain A4. I have tried both folded into four. I am probably responsible for putting more shit on paper than the inventor of Andrex. I currently have a bin full of the stuff. It is folded in many ways, although some of it is just crumpled up in an almost avant-garde fashion. (Out of interest, I have just popped ‘avant-garde’ into a French to English translator and it apparently translates as ‘avant-garde’.) I am the Jackson Pollock of the wastepaper basket. I am the idiot son of the man who never made it past a yellow belt in Origami. I am currently writing in a school exercise book. I cannot throw the pages away because if I rip them out, another – uncontaminated by my nonsense – falls out at the back. I cannot bear to throw away undesecrated paper.
So, new pen it is: radical I know, but you are looking at a man who once drank red wine with fish. Of course, switching to a blue does not come close to the sheer excitement of pushing down the little levers on one of the 6 variously coloured refills housed within a single pen that people of my age always got for Christmas, but it does make a change from black. As it is, I usually flit between black and red biros. I have black roller-balls, but I really don’t trust them. They are fickle. I use green pens for correcting. Green is the colour of second thoughts. Starting to write with a green pen means that I don’t even trust what is in my head – which gives me an insight into what other people think of me, and I don’t particularly enjoy it. It’s like looking into the house through your own window – something you only ever really do when you are locked out. I write, floridly, in fountain pen occasionally – but these pieces very rarely get transcribed into zero’s and ones. I seem to whine a little too well in India ink. Fountain Pen Me is a character that I rarely allow out in public.
I suppose that the man I would most like you to see when you look at what I write is exemplified by the mug full of pencils that sits on the desk in front of me. They are bright yellow, of uniform length, and each capped with a rubber* to one end. Sadly, upon close inspection you will find that only one or two of them are sharpened. Most are blunt and unusable. In fact, as much as I would like to emulate Hemingway, Steinbeck and Capote in writing in pencil, neatly rubbing out rather than scrawling over mistakes, I can’t. I tend to carry crumpled paperwork around with me during the course of the day and, by evening, pencil scrawlings become indecipherable: a homogenous**, pale grey smudge – too much like my real life.
So, today I am writing in blue ballpoint – simply because I found a hitherto unused pen in a drawer and thought that I would give it a go – and an exercise book that I bought some years ago for my Open University course and never used, (My Uni notes were written in pencil, but were all contained in the margins of the rainbow highlighted text books) so I’m confident that I will eventually find something to tell you. I’m just not sure what yet…
*Probably ‘eraser’ to those of you with an education.
**This is correct in English but both reads and sounds odd. In American English ‘an homogenous’, which sounds much better to my own sadly uneducated ears.