200 – A Retrospective…

mission statement
This is the photo that accompanied my very first blog. I used it here because a) I’m lazy and b)  it serves as a reminder that it is never too late to start again.

This is my bi-centennial post, so I thought that I would just take a couple of minutes to look back over my last eighteen months of twaddle. It would have been a ‘Greatest Hits’, but you know how easy it is to find yourself being sued these days.

According to WordPress my average post takes about four minutes to read, so it would seem that I currently manage to find approximately eight minutes-worth of stuff to moan about per ten thousand and eighty minutes available to me each week. (That must say something, but I’m not sure what.) I have decided not to fill this particular four minutes – which, according to my dodgy memory, is about a minute more than the warning that we would have got that the Russians were coming in the seventies – with amusing clips from my back catalogue (sic) but I have, instead, included a lot of links that I would love you to follow if you have any vacant four minute time slots to fill.

I made my first post (Mission Statement) in November 2018 and, by and large, I think I have stuck to the plan: a blog, not about actually getting older, but about life, written from the viewpoint of someone who is getting older. The (lack of) style has changed a bit along the way, but the general gist remains the same: to poke old-age in the ribs and entice it to chase you through a devilish maze filled with fake dog-dirt and clowns in the hope that it just might get bored and wonder off to bother somebody else instead. My third post (Fat) is remarkably representative of everything that has followed. By the fourth week, like everybody else, I had stumbled head first into Brexit which, as you would expect, poked up its repulsive little head like a neurotic meerkat, for many months thereafter. In March 2019 I started to publish twice a week, in the obvious misapprehension that you could not get enough of me and not too long after that I stumbled headlong into three whinges a week. I have published hobby guides, parodies (Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Winnie-the-Pooh etc etc), some little fictions of my own (The Custodian of Time is probably my favourite of those, simply because Calmgrove liked it, but I also liked some of the ‘specials‘) and some poems, for which I can only apologise. In the main, though, I have merely talked about me – and I realise how vain that must sound, but it is the only reference point I have (I think I may have set the tone with Hypochondria in January 2019) and by far my most read piece, Making Up For Lost Time – I wish I knew why – was published in September of last year – since which I thought I was getting better. As an anchor point, I do realise that it is set upon somewhat shifting sands, but I am pretty steadfast, although wobbly. The way I write relies upon me giving bits and pieces away along the way, but I try to hold back on opinion. I feel that, if my opinion is to have any value, then I have to have a rational argument to back it up. Rational argument requires education and knowledge – and I’ve just found a bag of my old school reports in the attic, so I’ll leave my opinions up there with those. The thing about any one opinion is that it is incapable of changing any other. If you don’t like it, you hit the ‘Off’ button. Mostly this blog is about what I don’t know. I suppose the whole thing could just as easily be titled ‘Is it me?’

Latterly I have returned to posting twice a week, having found that posting three times a week had started to dominate my life – these things don’t come easily to me (hard to believe, I know, but I do work on them) and a large chunk of what I have written recently has, of course, involved Coronavirus which I appear to have first mentioned in February this year. In Lockdown, my blog has become something of a plague diary. I refuse to get dragged down by the bloody thing. It might just take me away at some future time, but if it does it will have plenty to deal with; I can kick and scream with the best of them. I will leave it to others much more able to discuss the politics of the situation; I just want to know why every time I try and get a grocery delivery slot, my computer assumes I want to order three gross of wagon Wheels and a tin of water chestnuts.

Anyway, there you go, I hope you will excuse me a little bit of a look back and, if you should choose to follow any of the links, I hope you enjoy the older pieces (there are two hundred of them out there!) and get some idea of where this has come from and where it is all going.  (If you do find out, please tell me. I would love to know.) Things will return to what passes for normal around here by the next post and you can return to subsisting on my usual salmagundi of dog-eared open sandwiches (which, unless I am sadly mistaken, are just a sop for those too lazy to butter a second slice of bread) mushroom vol-au-vents (fly-in-winds – go figure) cheese and pineapple cocktail sticks (preferably spiked into half a tin-foil wrapped orange) and trifle (upon which I could answer questions on Mastermind). How long it will take the world to return to normal, I cannot say, but I do hope to be around here long enough to document it all. Life is short, so enjoy what there is. Take all that you can from it – like you’re sucking the colours from a puffin’s bill. There are still joys to be had; like finding a bottle of Cointreau at the back of the cupboard that, now you come to think about it (and in the absence of anything else alcoholic) you really quite like. Especially with warmed-up vegetables and a sausage that smells of socks…

Envoi: like Bryntin last week – who has subsequently said that he intends to leave the platform – I have now published my two hundredth blog; although unlike him I have yet to top the 200 hundred followers mark. It is true that a reasonably large percentage of those who click to ‘follow’ me do so only in the hope that they can tell (or more probably sell) me something – Vitamins appears to be my thing; I must give off the whiff of a man with a startling deficiency – and they never subsequently reappear. In my own case, I think that my actual number of regular readers is probably in single figures. I don’t have a social media presence at all, so I always realised that pulling together a readership of any size was going to be an uphill struggle. It is not what I expected when I started this, but it is what it is and I have a small number of followers who do read what I write and whose blogs I also enjoy reading. If you’ve been with me for any portion of this ‘journey’ then you’ll pretty much know all there is to know about me. I’m sorry, it won’t happen again. Like Bryntin, I’ve also noticed that my ‘Likes’ are often in excess of my ‘reads’, but I choose to believe that people without the time to read my posts just want to let me know that they are still there – it’s how my brain works. It allows me to preserve some modicum of self-esteem – which is ok at the moment, although it has probably had one too many to make it down the stairs on its own…

To the few and, if I may say so, incredibly discerning, fellow bloggers who do regularly tune into my waffle I would just like to say thank you for sticking with it. And if you find yourself with a spare minute to comment, please do (unless you want to tell me that I am a wazzock, in which case don’t bother yourself, you’re telling me nothing that I do not already know) – I always try to reply and it makes my day. If you have an opinion on what I should (or shouldn’t) be doing in the future, please let me know. Nothing too abusive or physically taxing though please…