This is, I believe, my 417th post. I have been blogging since November 2018 and this is, to the best of my memory, the first time I have arrived at a blank screen with only one hour to publication and not the faintest idea of what I am going to say. I am aware that, in general, what I write looks like it has just been made up on the spot, as the clock ticks round to zero, but that is really not the case. Normally I have a few pieces in the bank and often on a Monday I schedule the posts for the whole week. Now I have nothing, not just for today, but forever going forward. As my great friend Mr Underfelt will, I am sure, be happy to confirm, I am a little obsessive about what I have to say: I will strangle myself over the right word for the occasion and, given the chance, I will tinker with a piece until its time has long passed it by and it has hairs sprouting out of its ears. Today, I have nothing to fret over – unless you count the fact that I actually have nothing at all. Whatever I might find to say had better soon make itself known to me because I have no idea what I am going to prattle on about on Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday either. Wednesday’s poem will come, they are often late arrivers, and I have to run this evening, so those thirty minutes of empty drudgery have the potential to allow me the time to find something to whinge about on Thursday, but Saturday is an altogether knottier problem. My normal process involves me writing at least one piece that ends up in the bin before I start to find my feet for The Circle. Generally speaking the Saturday post falls into place at the last minute but, crucially, that last minute is in reality a full week before the actual last minute or else I would never sleep. Thankfully, the Circle has a couple of new members that we haven’t properly heard from yet. I’ll think of something.
In fact, this whole milieu (or do I mean quiescence – I am too troubled to know) has made me (again, I know, I’m sorry) think a little too carefully about the way I write and, having written his WordPress name above, about my friend Crispin (not his real name – obviously) who has had to put up with my creative peccadilloes for more years than, I am sure, he would care to admit. I have a mind that is capable only (and at times barely) of operating on a single level at any one time. I get a solitary idea and I nag it to death until it cannot give me any more. I take a single thread and I shred it. Crispin takes a single yarn and knits a pullover. Whilst I pull a single twine into a thousand pieces, he weaves a tapestry. He bubbles with a thousand ideas whilst I try to decide whether ‘Garibaldi’ or ‘Ginger Nuts’ are the funnier; whilst I try to decide whether my character would eat Rich Tea or Custard Creams, he is baking a Teatime Assortment complete, I must admit, with a layer or two of those godawful pink wafers, but also with more Chocolate Hobnobs than you can shake a stick at. I work on a single idea whilst he has a thousand more. By the time I have found the punchline, he has delivered a thousand more feeds. Chris is the stray match launched indiscriminately into the box of Brock’s*, whilst I am the Catherine Wheel that does not spin but splutters for a while before, to everyone’s relief, it goes out. I am certain to glitter, dully and briefly, whilst he will either go out altogether or produce a blast that will blow his own wig off. I tell you this for only two reasons:
- Not nearly enough people read his blog.
- At times like this I wish I had as many ideas as he**. Don’t get me wrong here – I would drive myself barmy. I would never keep up with me. I find the few that I do have quite distracting enough. I am not as young as I was, my mind is not as agile. But I would have something up the barrel that I could play with this evening. The process of writing is my friend. I have not been able to sit down properly to write in over a week. Such ‘jokes***’ as I can manage drop into my head from somewhere I do not know, but always as I write, never in advance. A good line in a thousand words might not seem much, but it is, in my opinion, more than Ted Rogers**** ever mustered and it is, anyway, as good as I get.
Anyway, there it is; my brain does not buzz with ideas and, when it does, I cannot concentrate on any single one sufficiently to get it to work for me, but today the shelves are empty. I am the campsite grocers on a Saturday night: my bread is mouldy, the eggs are cracked and the firelighters are damp. I will not be able to stock up until Monday on account of the fact that the wholesalers is shut over the weekend and anyway, the damp has got into his distributor and his van won’t start. But at least I’m open…
*Brock’s were a second division firework brand when I was a child. The more well-off had Standard Fireworks. They were, indeed, very standard, but not quite as much so as Brock’s. I believe the phrase ‘damp squib’ was invented to describe a Brock’s Roman Candle.
**Whenever we meet up Chris has a whole new slew of ideas under his hat. It doesn’t matter that some of them may never work, he is so enthused by them that you cannot help but get sucked in. And anyway, if they come to nothing, he has a thousand more to fall back on.
***I crave your indulgence on this matter. Think not of Laurel and Hardy trying to get a piano up a staircase, but Donald Trump trying to keep control of his combover as he gets out of a helicopter: it’s not clever but, well, you’ve got to smile haven’t you?
****Ted Rogers was an English comedian who told political and topical jokes that nobody ever understood. He hosted a TV quiz show in which he was the second funniest person. The funniest was an anthropomorphic dustbin.
P.S. Can anybody explain to me, please, why I am no longer able to add new posts through Microsoft Edge? Firefox takes an age and I am now using Google Chrome for this one thing.