Bit of slightly dramatic time here at home today (and only an Englishman could diminish drama in that way, but there you go, rather that than try to big everything up as some do and lose touch with reality - © US of A - I’ll keep it low-key). And that got me thinking, yet again, that this blog has rather lost touch with what ‘a personal blog’ of the kind I set out to write – part diary, part commonplace book – could be accepted to be. The trouble is that I’m battling against myself: I have long thought that writing is always rather – if not entirely - pointless if, at some point, what is written is not read by at least one other person. And a corollary of that is the more you are read, the more ‘successful’ your writing. Just ask any novelist or Glenda Slagg (©Private Eye, would-be satirist to this parish).
Yet the more you are read and the more relatives, friends and acquaintances read your ramblings, the more circumspect you are obliged to be, or rather, the more circumspect I have become. I mean, to put it bluntly, no one shits in public however great the temptation to slag people off while they have no means of replying.
A diary is utterly different to this kind of thing, this blog – ‘weblog’ - because, a diary is only read if you become famous and are vain enough to publish it; were once famous and some bloody publishers reckons there are a few pennies to be made from publishing it; your diary is happened upon and secretly read; or you are vain enough to circulate it while it is being written. Incidentally, many people claim they write their diary ‘only for themselves’. Well, perhaps it’s the cynic in me which is inclined to jeer, but: pull the other one, sunshine.
According to the statistics, this blog is being accessed in countries around the world and I am being read by several in the UK, the U.S., Germany, Indonesia, Australia, Russia, Slovenia, Italy and the Lord knows where else. (No one, it seems, in South America has bothered to linger which means that this kind of thing is not really for them or I am not writing enough about salsa, women, inflation drugs and – well, inflation). I am almost quite certain that none of those who does read this and perhaps returns gives a rat’s arse about my life or any of its details because, naturally, they are far more concerned with their own lives and its details. But the more I am read, the more, being an English sort of chap, don’t you know, with at least four ready furled umbrellas just waiting to be hauled out at the first sign of pleasant weather, I get ever more reticent about writing personally and, specifically, my feelings. Yet, as it happens, that is exactly what, on occasion, I want to do.
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The picture below is Harriet Harman, satirised by those on the right who think their comment is funny, as ‘Harriet Harpson’. I don’t know her from Eve, though I did once
Harriet, the scion of ‘a good family’ (she's the eldest daughter of Earl Moneybags of Gresham - motto No Bribe To Great To Pay) who went to private school and is generally rather well off, fights bitterly to improve the lot of her sisters. I’ve always thought she was something of a pain in the arse so perhaps the photo is apt. Complaints, please, to the usual address.
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When I first started this blog, I mentioned that is was in direct line to a written diary I had kept from around 1980 to 1995. I got the idea for that after reading that the editor of novelist John Steinbeck had come up with an solution after Steinbeck complained of ‘writer’s block’. He bought him an A4 ledger and urged him to write him a letter on the left hand pages of that letter by way of warming up his writing muscles and then, when he felt able to, to write his novels on the right hand pages.
Steinbeck says the ruse worked. So I, who had always been a ‘writer manque’ (see entries passim) but who was ashamedly conscious (and still is) of having written embarrassingly little, thought that might be the solution. I bought an hardback A4 lined ledger and began keeping a ‘diary’ which was also as much a commonplace book. I don’t think it was especially personal until about 1983/4 when I split with a girlfriend called Sian who was the only woman I should ever have married. I can’t for the life of me understand why I split from her except to suggest it might have been some kind of commitment phobia but, more relevantly, a delayed grief ove the death of my mother in 1980. (I thought I had come to turns with that remarkably well, but looking back all I had done was to suppress emotions which, as they always will, will escape in some other way.)
In the years which followed that split I wasn’t short of girlfriends or bedmates, but I always, always, always hankered after Sian and recorded my feelings in that diary. Similarly today I wanted to record my thoughts about marriage in general and my marriage in particular, but, so far, have held back. I shall sleep on it and decide whether I might record my feelings after all. As a possible taster – remember, I might not write a word – any entry will run along the lines of
1) If you are being treated like a piece of shit, isn’t it, in the long run your fault, in as far as you could really put a stop to it? (For the slow-witted): that is a rhetorical question to which the answer is Yes.
2) My suspicion that of all marriages something like one in five is generally rather overall happy, one in five is hell overall and the rest are nothing special at all. One a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is Hell On Earth and 100 is Pure Heaven, I would give mine about a 28. I shan’t go into the background of how it all happened but it certainly wasn’t any of that ‘Moon in June’ stuff. I was 45 when I married and if at the age you still believe in true love, you are either bonkers or dead. A subsidiary blog entry to those thoughts might be to ask how culpable are all those Hollywood (and, I suspose Bollywood) films we all watch while growing up in giving us a wholly, completely and utterly unrealistic notion of what love is? As far as they are concerned you meet ‘the right one’ and after that it’s heaven on earth. Well, bollocks to that, especially if the one you marry is not and never could have been ‘the right one’ and it turns out that she has a personality which might possibly be affected by mild Asperger’s. (Keep up you slowcoaches there in the back: yes, my wife, my first and, so far, only wife.)