Thursday, 13 January 2011

Lit. crit.

 Once again, readers, I am feeling a disjunct between blog time and real. It is my own fault, of course, for allowing such a gap to grow between the time of dictation and the events I am recalling and reflecting upon. For example, I have just had a bit of a battle with my dictation software, as it simply refused to launch, rather like a Morris Minor on a frosty morning. I have therefore reinstalled the software, but in the process lost a very real (and precious) hour.

In real-time, I should advise you, we are now fully embarked on the Good Ship 2011, whereas I am now going to refer to the events of 30 September 2010, which was a Thursday. Staying with 2011 for just one small moment more, however, I will tell you that one of my New Year's resolutions is to bring blog time closer to real time.

On the Thursday in question my friend R came over for lunch, a chat and a stroll. We had lunch in a cafe just around the corner from my house that has recently changed hands. This being Twickenham, the cafe is replete with rugby memorabilia: scarves, cups, ancient team photographs showing people no doubt now long deceased, but in the prime of youth and vigour when first captured on film. The cafe is in relatively new hands, the previous owner having taken her business in-house at the RFU Stadium, but leaving all the memorabilia behind at her old place. The new owner is a retired policeman, who has got off to a good start with tasty food and a pleasant ambience.

My appetite at the time recorded being in good order, I enjoyed my lunch of BLT and coffee. We followed lunch with a stroll by the river, which we as a family turn to time and time again as a place to take visiting friends, since there are always pleasant vistas, mature trees and the relaxing sounds of wildfowl (if you like that sort of thing).

I was particularly keen to spend time with R, as he is always excellent and uplifting company. Also, as he is not southern English, but Canadian, there can be an ease and immediacy about his conversation that is refreshing to a life-long suburban Londoner like me. He inhabits the world of books, being a writer of travel guides and stories, now working both on a novel and a self-help guide for people seeking work in middle age. He manages book projects as well and did some wonderful work for the church where I work. Sorry to go all post-modern and self-referential on you, but I was particularly keen to have his views on how I was doing with this very blog.

Let us just say that his comments were a great encouragement, the main message of what he said to me being to remain authentic and honest in what I put down for your reading and, I hope, interest and entertainment. I will certainly try...

His message was repeated in one of the books he proceeded to lend me and to which I have referred previously, that is If You Want to Write by Barbara Ueland. This is based on lectures this energetic woman, now departed, gave some decades ago for the encouragement and inspiration of hopeful writers. She is firm in her belief that most, if not all people, have writing of quality within them, but that they need to believe in themselves and have the courage to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards or even mouths to microphones. If you're keen on writing, do get this book: the enthusiasm and energy in it is potent and infectious.

Reading is of course the writer's fuel; at least this is how I justify my book addiction to myself. In anticipation of time on my hands, I had recently made some significant purchases, hoping both to educate myself in history, particularly the histories of the two world wars, and to understand more about how to write clearly and effectively.

My current reading: oh for a hundred eyes like Argus, as well as additional limbs and a swathe more time!

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