Sunday, July 7, 2013

And then there was me: I decided to bite the bullet and throw off the veil

It’s a strange thing writing a blog such as this. Over the years – I’ve been writing it since late 2009 – it has been a bit of this, a bit of that, and most recently nothing more than one punter among a million cyber punters giving his two ha’porth worth about what’s in the news. That, I’m the first to admit, makes me the equivalent of some digital pub bore. When I started this blog, I thought it might simply be the continuation of the written diary I kept from around 1981 to 1995.

That diary proved useful, especially when I was going through a horrible end-of-romance and needed somehow to sound off. There were other things in it, but that sole fact, that it was at heart merely a litany of ‘poor me, oh poor poor me’ gripes and the second sole fact that my writing is unreadable (I won’t describe my writing as ‘illegible’ because that implies it is messy and slovenly which it isn’t, in fact when viewed from a distance it is rather attractive. It’s just that it is so difficult to read that even I find it very hard to decipher) means that I have never read a single entry and I’m certain never shall. It was written in hardbound A4 ledgers and they are now, about 12 of them, sitting in a box in Guy’s House, a renovated very small cottage at next to The Hollow, which has now become nothing more than a depository but which could easily be converted into living accommodation – in fact, when it was renovated a small bathroom with shower was included for that specific purpose, although who it was intended should live there I really don’t know.

The problem with a public blog such as this is that it is no longer private, so I don’t feel able to record private thoughts and happenings. It isn’t that I have anything to hide, but as far as privacy is concerned, it is not and cannot be the equivalent of a diary. I know that at least three people I know read it every so often (my sister, a friend I worked with for a long time until he retired about a year ago, and another old boy of the Oratory who I don’t I have never actually met but who, in an odd way, I feel I know a little) occasionally dip in and read my latest ramblings. Apart from them I know, courtesy of Google’s stats service, that folk in Russia, Germany, France, the US, Turkey and even China dip in, probably as a result of googling a certain topic and happening on it. How many of them are regular visitors I don’t know. But maybe I should bite the bullet, maybe I should, every so often, use this more as a diary as well as sounding off in full pub bore fashion about this, that and t’other.

Were I to do so, I would record that I am feeling, and have been feeling for some time, curiously flat. I don’t know why, but I am conscious that recently in my life – this is the only way I can put it – activity is compensating for action. I seem to be going through the motions. My week is neatly divided into four days of work and three days of being at home. I enjoy being at work and I love being at home with my children, but I am very conscious of the routine.

Highlights – make that ‘highlights’ – occur on Tuesday mornings when I check online to see my wage has arrived in my main bank account so that, given the direct debits and standing orders I have set up, I shall not inadvertently overdraw, followed by a second ‘highlight’ on Wednesday mornings when I check online to make sure the various standing orders, all of which are to pay bills or top up other accounts intended to pay bills when those bills are due have functioned as they should. Every Wednesday I work a single shift and head off west, home to Cornwall. I invariably stop of at a pub in South Petherton if there’s football on Sky, or in Sticklepath, on the edge of Darmoor, if there isn’t, for a couple of pints of cider and a cigar or two (and, by the way, I always buy them abroad where they are a damn sight cheaper and tonight smoked my last two).

Then it’s the routine at home: drop in on my stepmother, who had a stroke six years ago, to pick up a shopping list, do her shopping and later spend a little time with her; doing the quiz work I do for the Mail for a little extra cash that night; Fridays droping in again (I see her every day as she only lives five minutes’ walk away) followed by quite a bit of time-wasting. Saturday is always rather overshadowed by the fact that I’m off up to London the following day when the week starts again. It’s not an onerous regime and I am very conscious that in many ways I am quite lucky.

Yet for quite some time now I have been feeling flat, understanding in my heart that activity, which is fundamentally superficial, keeps my mind off the fact that there is no action. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who feels like that. Perhaps it is merely a function of age (you might have gathered that I am no longer a spring chicken and am, for example, utterly invisible to the pretty young and youngish women I encounter every day.

When you are young, you seem to imagine you face a lot of problems, many of which have more to do with a certain insecurity and a hidden lack of confidence than any real problems (although that is not to belittle those young folk who do face real problems – we are getting more and more aware of the incidents of sexual abuse of the young taking place which a great many young, for one reason or another, feel unable to reveal to anyone and so suffer horribily in silence.) But those, essentially mundane problems are not things you would necessarily discuss with anyone, except perhaps a good and close friend. But they are a concommitant of ‘growing up’. What you do have, as a young person, however have is your hopes and your dreams. Those dreams, I’m sure, could well almost always be bollocks, but that isn’t the point. The point is that you don’t know that they might well be bollocks, you don’t know that there’s a lot more to life, that there are a lot more difficulties which you will face and which you will or will not overcome. Who knows, you might well have the wherewithal to realise those dreams against the odds. Many do.

What you don’t yet know, don’t even suspect, is that quite apart from not being the most important individual alive – every so often we in our salad days suspect that that is the case – that there are several tens of individuals in your own small circle; several hundred in our immediate community; several thousands living locally, several tens of thousands a little further afield and several billions the world over who feel just as keenly as you do that they are the centre of the world. And with all those egos clashing against each other you can bet your bottom dollar that things are not going to pan out as smoothly as you would like and, when you are young, expect. (Naturally, the strength of this conviction of being the centre of the world will vary from individual to individual and, more pertinently, from culture to culture. I believe the Chinese don’t have anything close to the notion of ‘individuality’ which we spoilt brats in the West have, but on a personal level I’m sure each one of those billions lives in China will feel ‘special’ even if they are not treated as ‘special’. ) It does, however, never leave us.

We still all feel we are the centre of the world. Unfortunately, that world seems at some point to become ever smaller and so what does leave us are those hope and dreams. Ask yourself: just what hopes and dreams does my 76-year-old stepmother have who suffered a stroke six years ago and who now, where once she was a very active woman who spent many hours a day in her garden, is now more or less confined to her armchair and kept amused by Escape To The Country and Bargain Hunt? Precious few, I should imagine.

This whole entry was sparked this even when I came home, at around 8pm, and found my younger brother, with whom I stay when I am in London, flaked out and gone to sleep. I worry about him. He might now be 55, but he has taken to describing himself as ‘old’. Good Lord, what is he talking about! Yet it was the catalyst to this, the ramble above, and I have decided to start posting a rather more personal blog. It will not, however, appear here, but in the blog adjacent to this which I have I have called My Second. Feel free to dip in once I start posting entries, but be warned: it might be messy and horribly self-indulgent.

Christ, what a ramble. But, oh well.

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