Beneath my desk as I write this post is a large lidded bucket which is spewing out sufficient CO² to make me personally responsible for the depletion of several feet at least of the Morteratsch glacier and will possibly result in a severe ticking off from Greta Thunberg. According to everything I read carbon dioxide is an odourless gas, but as whatever is bubbling its way out of my bucket smells like the kind of sock you find at the bottom of a child’s sports bag three months after the end of term, and is covered by the kind of living blanket you find on the elderly jam sandwich tucked away at the back of a bedroom drawer, I have severe doubts. I am supposed to be brewing beer, but it is obvious to me that something has died in the bucket. I dare not lift the lid – whatever is growing in there, it is clearly desperate to get out.
My daughter bought me the kit and all associated paraphernalia for Christmas. She clearly felt that I had time on my hands that needed to be filled. Like almost everybody of my age, I used to brew most of what I drank back in the day when I had very little money and alcohol cost a lot of it. I have produced many a glass of wine with a fine, rich and creamy head; many a pint of beer with all the aesthetic appeal of Spring Vegetable Soup, and I’ve drunk them all. The main difference with the current brew is that I am embracing the challenge, not because I have to, but because I want to. I have drunk sufficient quantities of ‘craft’ beers over the years to lead me to believe that I can, myself, produce something perfectly acceptable (e.g. not strictly poisonous). I’ve looked at a lot of paintings over the years and I feel sure that I could do that too, if I just had access to a decent brush. I’ve read enough awful novels to feel confident in my ability to write one of those. My head is full of songs that I know would be best-sellers if they ever made it out into the world – or at least into The Eurovision Song Contest (b group). If other people are able to do things, I find it hard to understand why I can’t do them too.
I’m a believer. I believed when I started writing this poor benighted blog that I could make a decent fist of it. I believed that more people would want to read it rather than just tick ‘Like’ and try to sell me vitamins. I believed that many more would read it than ever did. It is a crazy affliction: to be fully – and painfully – aware of your own limitations, whilst still believing that you might, somehow, overcome them. When ‘just about acceptable’ is an aspiration, then not reaching it is painful. I’m not looking to climb Everest – I get a nose-bleed on a high kerb – but I wouldn’t mind standing atop a knoll for a little while.
I once produced a gooseberry ‘champagne’ of breathtaking beauty, and a greengage chardonnay that could have stripped the enamel off a toilet bowl. The ingredients were similar, the methodology identical, the results, it would appear, not something over which I had any control. I don’t recall putting any more effort into one than the other. Managing ‘effort’, if I’m honest, has never been my greatest forte: generally things either come easily, or they frustrate the hell out of me, and the things that frustrate me the most are the very things that make me resolve even harder to succeed. It is only after I have discovered that I am unable to do something, that I become really determined to do it.
Consequently, I have spent many, many hours over the last three-and-a-bit years working on this blog. Hard as it is to imagine, I put a lot of effort into each and every post I make, and the disappointment of the realisation that I have fewer readers than Vladimir Putin has rational brain cells is, at times, crushing. Whilst I understand and accept that the goal is not to have thousands of readers, well… the thing is that it is really, isn’t it? The joy may well be in the writing, but the point is in people reading it. This blog has become the equivalent of playing ‘The Toilet Tent’ at Glastonbury and I don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. It is time, I think, to take a bit of a break, to finish The Play, to record some scripts to see how they sound…
Okay, so I know that I have done this before. Last year I was writing four posts a week and it was taking over my life. (You should try walking around Marks & Sparks, looking at the rows of pants and wondering ‘Can I get a post out of this?’ I even considered getting arrested for shop-lifting, just in case I could find something amusing to say about the experience.) So I stopped, briefly, and then commenced this more manageable two-times-a-week routine. I can handle this with time to spare each week. My problem is that, instead of finding something ‘profitable’ to do with my spare time, I simply write more posts. I can be frighteningly prolific – some form of literary diarrhoea – and I tend to have so many posts ‘in hand’ that I will probably have had a good four weeks off by the time that you loyal two dozen read this, and I will be raring to go again. I will already have revisited all of the things I have been unable to finish, finding no doubt that those that I can finish are not worth the effort and those that are worth the effort, I am still unable to finish.
I have no doubt whatsoever that I will be back, just as soon as I write something and think ‘that would be ideal for the blog’ but, for now, that is not the plan. By the time you read this, my beer will be in the bottles. I may even have sampled some. I have a second episode of Frankie & Benny (who are an absolute joy to write) with which I will, for now finish, as it seems to me to be as good a way as any of saying ‘adieu’…