So, Should I Remain Truncated?

I am by nature a bit of a windbag; a short, fat sockful of inconsequential whining.  It is my sole gift and I giveth of it freely.  And that, as you will be fully aware, is my downfall.  At least I think so.  I have been told many times and by many people – some more politely than others – that I do bang on a bit, and so, of late, I have been trying to bang on a bit less.  I have tried to reduce the word count in my average blog by something around 50% (a bargain in anybody’s books) and it is now time to take stock.  I earned a crust (or more accurately augmented my topping) for many years by contributing a pithy one thousand words a pop to any magazine that would pay me (for my younger readers, these ‘magazines’ were numerous sheets of paper, containing prose and pictures, lovingly stapled together, folded in the middle and sold through the newsagents that used to be where the takeaway now is) and it became a rut into which my brain happily fell.  I have many different ways of writing these little nosegays, but whichever way I choose to approach them, they always resolve themselves after the allotted one thousand words (+/- 10% for good behaviour) which is, by all accounts, far too long for a blog post.  It’s a peculiar thing.  Being very old I write in longhand before typing onto the laptop, I then print a hard copy which I proofread and correct in various hues of felt pen, before editing on the laptop and posting.  I read through the printed article many times before I post it and it always appears to be much shorter on paper than on the screen.  It is the transition onto LCD – or whatever it is that forms the images on my laptop, tablet and phone (phlogiston for all I know) – that makes them too long and, quite obviously, nothing to do with me.  My inability to use one word when twenty will do is not to blame.

In general I find humour in drifting off-piste – something which, in my current abridged form, I may be unable to do quite so often without falling off the edge – and if I’m honest I have no idea of whether the shorter pieces work at all.  I am fully aware (I would like to give thanks to my wife and children etc etc) that where I am concerned, less is definitely better, and writing these curtailed pieces is certainly less taxing.  A single idea is easier to follow and the knowledge that wherever I may get lost, the end really is just around the corner is a comfort.  If I’ve lost anything in this process, it could be that it is something I should have lost years ago.  I’m keen to know what you think, is 500/600 words a better target for me?  Maybe you think zero would be more appropriate.  I must be honest, if you tell me that I should pack it all in, I will probably ignore you.

After all, what is the point in being choc-full of hot air if you can’t share it with the world?

Fight or Flight – Confronting the Urge to Confront

Photo by Dilyara Garifullina on Unsplash

You know what it’s like, you fight against it with all you’re worth, but every now and then you just have to say what is on your mind. Now, don’t panic! I’m not going to assail you with my opinions. Let’s face facts here; there is nothing in the world more tedious than somebody else’s point of view, and I certainly don’t intend to inflict mine upon you. After all, what have you ever done to me? However, I’m pretty certain that you will all recognise the feeling: someone is fervently extolling an opinion that you passionately oppose. You know that there is no point in calling them out. You know that they won’t listen anyway. But there is a prickling at the back of your neck and a little voice inside your head is whispering “Tell ‘em. Go on, tell ‘em”. Best advice (in as much as anyone would want to take advice from me) is don’t. You know how it goes; you are certain of what you want to say, you understand the reasoned argument you want to make, you have even rehearsed a couple of witticisms in your head that you are prepared to drop in if the moment allows, but somehow it doesn’t come out as you intended and you just end up loudly refuting everything that the other person has to say. It will not end well. It never does. Your arguments may well be incisive and definitive, but they will count for nothing when your rival says, “What’s it got to do with you anyway, big nose?” Whatever you were told at school, nobody is ever swayed by reasoned argument. You stand a much better chance of swaying them with a bag of sweets. And, be honest, if you do definitively prove somebody wrong in front of all of their friends, are they likely to thank you for it? Are they likely to bless you for revealing to them the error of their ways? They may react in a way that you had not anticipated: they might thumb their nose at you; they might blow a raspberry; if they throw a punch, you are probably moving in the wrong circles anyway. Far worse, they will look at you tearfully and, with a slight shake of the head, move sadly away to sulk silently behind a half-opened door. (Don’t panic. The situation is not intractable, but the solution will almost certainly involve cake.)

The human body is awash with hormones that, for some reason and under certain circumstances, tell you that the time to have your say is now. Fortunately the human brain is strong and almost always has the power to overrule this primaeval urge to confront. In a life in which I have come to realise that it is generally essential to let your heart rule your head, I would say that this is the time, when you find yourself hot and agitated, when you know that you are drifting helplessly into a row, to let your head rule your heart (and apply a cool, damp cloth to the back of your neck) take a deep breath, smile serenely and walk away happy in the knowledge that the cake is still all yours…

Sometimes I hear my voice
And it’s been here, silent all these years…
‘Silent All These Years’ – Tori Amos