Tag Archives: Blogging

This happens to the best and to the worst

FullSizeRender (6)You sit and stare into space.

You change tack – by sitting and staring at a blank screen.

You’ll do it tomorrow, and tomorrow – you said yesterday, and the day before.

You take a morning trip to the city centre, walk around, drink coffee, get rained on, hope that something will strike.

You return home.

You reckon you could squeeze out something on Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra, or your sign-up to Spotify, or running in December. Or that plate of sprats you ate in London, unlike any other you’d had.

You don’t – the blank screen’s in the way.

You make lunch and eat it. You pack a bag for a trip to see your father. You dig out a Sonny Rollins CD you bought a month ago but haven’t listened to. You google details about the CD.

You text your wife, telling her you’re set to start. You check Facebook, again.

You want to finish a book of short stories but you’ve promised yourself that you’ll do this first.

You assure yourself that this happens to the best and to the worst of them.

In desperation you copy a trait from a novel you’re just finished, writing in the second person narrative.

You start.


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The dog ate my blog (and other excuses)

An apple a day... Detail from 'Adam and Eve'. Lucas Cranach the Elder.

An apple a day…
Detail from ‘Adam and Eve’. Lucas Cranach the Elder.

I had thought to go without a blog-post this week – as I’m on a mental and physical hiatus.

I’d planned I’d offer some explanation for skipping a beat, a rationale, a good, old-fashioned excuse.

But anything I could throw up would pale in comparison to some of the AWOL-related excuses I’ve read of over the years.

So, in the absence of an excuse from me take one from the list below – five of the best justifications I’ve come across.

Well, four. There was a fifth, but I lost it.

The original excuse

After chatting with a snake in the Garden of Eden Eve elects to nibble some fruit (tamarind according to some, others apple) from the Tree of Knowledge, promoting all manner of Divine fury, leading to original sin and presaging the Fall of Man.

Why? “The serpent deceived me, and I ate,” Eve explained. Ok then.

The Ukrainian soccer team

Fans of the team, less than pleased after a 4-0 thrashing by Spain in the 2006 World Cup, demanded an explanation.

They got one they could never have foreseen. Apparently noisy frogs croaking outside the team hotel kept them awake all night before the game.

“We all agreed that we would take some sticks and go and hunt them,” defender Vladislav Vashchuk sheepishly said.

Brian Lenihan Snr

The Irish politician initially admitted that he had called the country’s President Patrick Hillery in 1982, in an attempt to stop Hillery dissolving the national parliament (thereby removing Lenihan’s party from power).

Train in vain? Marathon man Joe Strummer, 1984.

Train in vain?
Marathon man Joe Strummer, 1984.

Then, while running for President himself eight years later, Lenihan reversed his story, claiming “on mature recollection” he had not made the controversial calls.

Was he believed? Well, he lost the election (but he was remembered for his excuse).

Joe Strummer

Soon after The Clash embarked on a major 1982 tour of the UK, at the height of the band’s fame, their front man vanished.

Where was he? Off to join a revolutionary group in Nicaragua?  Living in a squat back in Maida Vale?

Nope. He’d decamped to France, grown a beard and run the Paris marathon.

Beat that.

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When the pen’s mightier than the keyboard

MH370 search note handed to Malaysian transport minister, Mar 22, 2014.

MH370 search note handed to Malaysian transport minister, Mar 22, 2014.
Pic: Twitter

SOMETIMES paper is the only way to do it.

It was interesting that a possible breakthrough in the search for the Malaysia Airlines jet last week – an operation which has been run with the highest of hi-tech equipment – was communicated in the oldest fashion possible.

Hastily scribbled with a biro on a torn scrap of paper and pushed into the recipient’s fist.

As communications go it couldn’t get any more lo-tech.

It was almost quaint – yet tragic in light of subsequent developments.

Who writes anything down any more? Apart from perhaps a quick shopping list, a scrawled signature or a Christmas card?


The press conference note put me in mind of some shopping I was undertaking.

With a visit to Japan scheduled later this year I’m assembling, with help from my father-in-law, a shortlist of Japanese novels to read.

My initial plan, for reasons of space and cost, was to download the e-book versions to my Kindle.

But these are works I want to close read and dwell over. And this reading is a tactile, physical experience as much as a mental one.

And why would I want to deprive myself of it? Even if it means cramming more books onto the groaning shelves?


Those infernal devices...

Those infernal devices…

I’m sure I’m not alone feeling this need to read on paper, despite the onward march of e-books, Kindles, Nooks and more.

Surrounded by screens all day, on my desk, across my living room or in my pocket, reading on paper is a non-electronic breather.

This attitude may also account for my analogue habit of keeping notebooks, crammed with random shopping lists, ideas, quotes and scribbles.

Wasn’t my iPhone supposed to put an end to all this?

It hasn’t. And neither has my Kindle, or iPad, or laptop.

Paper still has its place and, like the anonymous author of the Malaysia note, there are times when it’s the first thing I reach for.

But not this time, of course…


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