Gentle reader, hello.

That’s a personalised opening gambit, although judging by my site traffic stats I may be, actually, just addressing one person. Hiya!

Well, it’s not that bad, but if people come looking for new content they will have been sorely tested this last month or so. A glance at the twatter twitter feed info on this site will suggest that I tend to microblog rather than long-form it during term time. Six school days a week – the boarding mysteries of loading and timetabling and post-school activities. Sporadic bursts of energy with regard to writing, especially blogging. Life’s events too busy like getting all up in my face and that (prior clause to be read in R.P. 1940s BBC voice) for me to feel the need to step back and catalogue them in a public forum.

M’colleague JCG over at 10 Minutes Hate just published an interesting article on writing wherein Geoff Dyer is quoted as talking about ‘levels of noticingness’, the act of switching on enough to write things down, and the mundane draggishness of this.

It is a weird aspect of a weird idea of writing as a discipline, in some ways. Having to notice stuff? You just notice stuff, don’t you? Then write about it. Or not. You need to have something to say. Forcing it seems a bit… well, keen. In an unhealthy way. You start writing terrible poems about puddles.

I’ve measured it from side to side:
‘Tis three feet long, and two feet wide.

Couple that with ‘just because you can, you should…’ notions of instant publishing (the aforesaid Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Ello, etc, etc), an assumption that everything is of interest, even when it is not, and you definitely have a recipe for stress, rather than enjoyment.

These are, it might be argued, manifestations of the late capitalist notion that one is never doing enough. The act of creation and magic that writing is becomes yet another productivity measure in an Excel spreadsheet universe. One more flagged assessment for you to parse your personal progress. Self-flagellation and word count anxiety, and a failing grade from The Man by half term.

And I worry, I waver, I wonder, about the delusion of hope and progress implied in the idea of ‘late capitalism’.

Thusly, I was gratified (confirmation bias) to read Dyer’s concept of having ‘deprioritized the role of writing in my life’. Improve your focus on activities being undertaken, while making it much more fun to do the writing bit when you fancy. In this mode, it is much more valuable to no longer think of oneself as a ‘writer, interrupted,’ but as a being doing stuff who also, when opportunity knocks, likes to faff about with word strings. Puts down phone, watches gig.

These are, of course, notes from an amateur. Professional writers’s views vary: Dyer offers one, Warren Ellis synchronicitously publishes another, on being consumed by commercial writing.

Maybe that aspect of it is why I’ve always skirted the edges of professional writing. For my part, kicking off clag accumulated in the quagmires of faff (and what a choice phrase from JCG!), I note that I keep advertising a post about chickens. It never materialises. And which came first, the post ad or the idea for the post?

Reality clucks. I’ve been busy enjoying tending the flock, more occupied cleaning up the chicken shit to worry about feeling I have to write shit about chickens.

“…but we need the analogies!”

Now the fowl are in place and providing eggs as planned, though, I think I am due a bit of stepping back and cataloguing. Don’t cross the road, gentle reader! I’ll be just a moment.

The BBC provides a comment piece, 2012’s pre-Pre-Budget Report report (“The Autumn Statement”).

In it, James Landale begins by wafting allusively at words by “Hilaire Belloc and the Mötley Crüe.” Belloc’s hapless Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion, represents Conservative/Lib Dem policies. Labour/Mötley Crüe suggest it is ‘time for change’. The James Landale asserts that:

“It is through this prism that the politics of George Osborne’s Autumn Statement should be viewed.”

Somewhat disappointingly, the prismatic humorous verse/hair metal analogy is not sustained beyond the opening paragraphs. Indeed, sadly, there is precious little humour or rockin’.

The article is perhaps an attempt at aping the Daily Mail school of ‘New Rihanna Bum Outrage’ hit maximisation through extensive and (mis)leading headlines, URLs and carefully captioned images. Such cheap ploys are surely the mark only of desperate attention hounds.

RiRi feels bum underwear stage etc etc etc

RiRi feels bum underwear stage etc etc etc

Whatever the point was, aside from that, the James Landale commits a schoolboy error in assigning Mötley Crüe an unnecessary definite article. AND their first single was ‘Stick To Your Guns’. If you’re going to draw on stuff outside the ‘proper’ frame of reference to make a point, at least develop it properly.

A shame, then, the James Landale. A missed opportunity. It would be great if ‘serious’ commentators went absurdly pop-lit for no good reason all the time. I would find this sort of approach to political discourse much more agreeable.

One might look forward to future op. eds. such as Nick Robinson’s “Trident II: Stanley Holloway or the Iron Maiden?”


What, waste all our lives raising children? To feed ruddy lions? Not me!