Paper Tiger


It has been quite a while since I have had to whine about my inability to identify anything suitable to whine about.  It takes me right back to the dark days of Lockdown, and my fixation with pens, CD’s, very old sit-coms, and ice cubes.  The certainty then, that except for the workers of Downing Street, nothing was happening for everyone, at least provided a starting point: there was no experience to write about except for the lack of it and that was universal.  I spent so long gazing at my own navel that I now have a stoop.  It was not even possible to watch the world passing by outside the windows as the world was banned from doing so.  We took our thirty minutes daily exercise on a circuit that began and ended at home and involved crossing the road every time we encountered anybody else doing the same thing, we banged our pans with everybody else as we enjoyed the two minutes of weekly ‘community’, applauding the NHS on our own doorsteps, and it was there to write about and everybody understood it.  My gift for the inconsequential was suddenly useful because the inconsequential was the only escape we had from the very consequential and, for once, we all needed it.

Tonight I have nothing and I am struggling to find a way in which to write about it.  Having spent the last few hours staring through the window at the slowly encroaching landscape of new-build where, for forty years, I have looked out onto fields and trees has taken my mind away from everything.  NIMBY it might be, but I cannot help but grieve over the loss of something which I have held dear for two-thirds of a lifetime.  I will get used to it, much like I get used to my inability to smile without revealing un-bridgeable gaps; to spend a day with the grandkids without needing gin; to read the dire warnings on my medication without needing a strong magnifying lens, a bright light and even more gin.  It is often easier to embrace change than to welcome it.  I don’t want to be old, but I do want to get old.

I have tried, for a bit of a change, to put my pen to one side, to stare at a blank laptop screen, hands poised above the keyboard like arthritic spiders, waiting to pounce upon any notion that might pass their way, but it doesn’t work for me.  I crave paper.  I can’t doodle on the laptop.  Deleting is nothing like as cathartic as ripping it up and starting again – although it is more sustainable.  Everybody, from the bank to the window cleaner tells me that I should go paperless, but I’m not quite fully on-board with the logic yet.  You see, I remember from my youth when huge forests of coniferous trees were planted to provide us with paper, and I am aware that scientists now believe that these are detrimental in our fight against climate change.  In short, they need to chop them down and replace them with broad-leafed trees.  Having chopped them down, I’m sure they can’t just leave them lying there can they, so they might as well make paper out of them.  At my best estimate, I don’t suppose I’ve got much more than a couple of trees left in me now and my oak planting record is a good one, so I’ll keep on jotting my whines to paper (as soon as I can find something to whine about) – even if it does mean that, for now, the world is just that little bit more full of hot air than it used to be…


16 thoughts on “Paper Tiger

  1. I drew with lots of coloured chalks a rainbow, at the door of where I work and butterflies / flowers (the doodles were open to interpretation) on the paving slabs around the building. Maybe you could take up chalk or what about a slate? You can’t go much further back in time than using slate for the written word, surely?

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  2. Encroaching “new build” is definitely something you are entitled to whinge about. Writing manually, on actual paper used to feel good to me until my writing deteriorated to such an extent I cannot even read it myself.

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      1. The reason I write on the computer more often than not; I’ve tried the ‘2 in the morning light-bulb moment write it darkly in a flash of inspiration in a handy notebook ‘ method and the ‘record it in a hushed voice so as not to awaken the missus, the moggy, the doggy, the burglar. In the morning I’ve reinvented Sanskrit and I can’t hear a word of the 30 seconds of whispered genius, or the brief interlude of nose-sniffling before a full hour my snoring I’ll have to erase. But whatever works.

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  3. I used to scribble notes on paper a lot, but then lockdown happened and I moved out of the office and away from the well stocked printer drawers. I like writing on paper, but I’m not going to buy my own…!

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  4. I am tired of buying pens I never get to use because my daughter snags them for “enhancing” her paintings and my husband “borrows” them for work and promptly forgets to bring them back home.

    I am also tired of buying paper and notebooks and diaries that I never get to use because my daughter snags them to create those paintings to use the pens on and my husband “borrows” them and forgets to return them to my table. I would rather type.

    Also, it is difficult to read what I am writing anyway.

    I hit a writer’s block lately and asked people to give me first lines for my stories. I got so many that I have enough fuel for 6 months 😀 May be try that. 🙂

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