Am I a writer?

This is terribly poor form, of course.  If I see a newspaper posing a question, I usually read no further: why are they asking me?  I am clearly an idiot.  Couldn’t the journalist (or sub-editor) in question have found an expert, rather than relying on the readership to do their work for them?

This is also not going to develop into a Poll – while these can be created within WordPress, it seems like quite a lot of hassle to set one up and I am not 100% sure that I want to know the answer.

No, once again we’ll all have to face the existential angst that lies at the dark heart of GofaDM and its author.  You will be fellow travellers on his quest to find some small speck of identity to grasp and call his own.  It’s his own fault, of course, he has rejected all the readily available identities that the modern world is willing to offer: he is clearly far too picky, no wonder he lives alone with an idiot.

Clearly, at the purely trivial level, I am a writer as a result of all the ‘stuff’ I seem to have written in this virtual space over the last few years (this would seem to be post 649 for any stats fans out there).  Indeed, I way well have written more material during the lifespan of GofaDM than many who would self-identify as writers.  However, unusually for this blog, we are not going to be satisfied with the trivial: we are going to worry at the cheap veneer with a fingernail to catch a glimpse of what may lie beneath.

Why, you might ask (and so indeed do I), has a chap who denies his writer-hood, produced quite so much text in recent years for no obvious reward?  My occasional dictum of “better out than in” might apply – once it is on the virtual page it has exited my cranial space to allow room for more significant work to go ahead (but, in practice, the space just appears to be used to generate more of the same).  A possible insight came on Thursday night when I bumped into someone I knew at the Nuffield Theatre (though this is almost unavoidable – I am becoming worryingly widely known there).  At some previous encounter I had, in a fit of marketing prowess, encouraged him to follow this unending river of utterance.  He evinced some enjoyment from this activity (perhaps through politeness) and remarked that it was clear that I enjoyed producing it.  He wasn’t wrong, I do enjoy hurling my words out into the void – in fact, it might still be fun if they never left my laptop but were left entirely for my own amusement (don’t worry, my innate cruelty means I shall continue to make my writing all too public).

Perhaps to answer the question we should look back into history – did the childish or youthful author show indication of what was to come?  I had thought not.  I found the obligation to write for English Language O-level terribly annoying and was glad to take it a year early and no longer have to suffer the need to write creatively.  English Literature, on the other hand, I enjoyed: I had no issue writing about the work of others – just generating my own ex nihilo.  As noted not so long ago, I thought my first tentative forays into what would become GofaDM were back when the nineties was still a mewling, puking infant in its mother’s arms and I wrote comic obituaries for colleagues when they departed for pastures new (and no, I was not working on a diary farm).  However, while chatting with my brother (no, he’s not my real brother – more my co-opted brother, try and keep up!) I suddenly remembered earlier excursions in the written form.

When I was at university, mobile phones lay in the realm of science fiction and calling home was a rare activity to be saved for emergencies.  Instead, I used to type – on a portable, manual typewriter – regular missives to my parents.  I seem to recall these had a stream-of-consciousness feel about them, and probably represent the source for my chronic over-use of parentheses and hyphen.  I suspect they may have contained the seed which one day grew into the monstrous, lexical plant you see before you.  I have a rather nasty feeling that these letters may still lie (like an unexploded literary bomb) carefully preserved in my parents’ loft: just waiting to be unleashed upon the world to its horror and my acute embarrassment.

This takes my career as a ‘writer’ back to the mid-eighties, suggesting thirty years of inconsistent authorial endeavour.  I think I am forced to admit that my brother is correct and confess that ‘I am a writer’ (and I may need some sort of patch to control the symptoms).  Some of my recent stuff has slightly impressed me on re-reading, even away from the ‘jokes’ (well, The Warder of the Brain did anyway).  My recent productivity also seems to have risen but that may just be down to having time on my hands (it is surprisingly tricky to remove, I may have to try swarfega).  My forms of writing are a tad limited: I can do business prose, write a half-decent essay on the arts for the Open University and then there is the rather limited palette I use to paint the canvas of this blog.  As a writer, I feel the need to expand my horizons and so have decided that I will write a short story (it may be VERY short) and it will not be about me or my life: though I may choose to write in the first person and it will have to be drawn from the well of my experience – probably using a manual winch and a bucket.  At the moment, I think it may have memory as its theme – but it currently lacks any characters, story or, indeed, words.  As and when it moves from the noosphere into the world of the real, I shall publish it here to universal apathy.  Consider this your one and only warning.

Look at that!  As I suspect also happens in the newspapers, I have answered my own question.  A less interrogative title could easily have been used, but instead the author hides behind false modesty – and we rightly despise him for it.

Enjoying genocide

I should perhaps clarify the title before I am bundled off to Den Haag to spend some quality time with the International Criminal Court.  I have not previously indulged in genocide, nor am I doing so at present and I have no active plans to pursue a career in the field either.  Nor would I wish to encourage others to view this as a valid lifestyle choice – in general, the fewer freshly minted corpses your efforts leave at the end of each day, the better.

Enjoyment is often wrongly conflated with “fun” and laughter.  I have heard (though prefer not to believe) that a UK literary festival has used face recognition software to identify whether its punters are smiling after events (presumably as part of planning bookings for future events).  I like to imagine that literature – even in a festive setting – has a rather broader remit than smile induction.  John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, to give a single illustrative example, does not generally leave them rolling in the aisles but is still great literature and I really enjoyed reading it.  Often at the end of a play, or a piece of classical music, I am left shell-shocked and usually need a pause to gather my thoughts before I want to begin (or hear) applause.  Nevertheless, the evenings so spent are ones that I treasure.

Having, hopefully, weaselled my way out from under the title we can now proceed with the post proper.  This continues the events described in Ground Zero and Awkward? and so we shall start by using the standard procedure.

Previously on GofaDM…

Dimitris and Stuart, blog soul brothers, meet for the first time in London and enjoy a day of conversation, literature and theatre before parting at Waterloo station to catch their respective trains home.  [Just think, two whole posts totalling some 2000 words could have been covered that quickly – but would that have been as much fun?  (I have my fingers in my ears – la la la la la – I can’t hear you!)]

And now the conclusion…

Even before our momentous, physical meeting, my brother had invited me to an event at his university on Monday – perhaps as much for moral support as for my sparkling company (Warning: real company may not be sparkling) or in the expectation that the content would appeal to me.  I was slightly reluctant, not over fears about the content or the company, but as a result of the early start needed to reach Egham for the kick-off coupled with the strong probability of a late return home the previous night.  The prospect of paying for peak rail travel and the risk of being caught snoring partway through a serious, academic conference almost put the kibosh on the experience – but luckily less wise counsels prevailed.  With a little low animal cunning, I discovered that by breaking my ticket at Reading I could travel at peak for less money than an off-peak (don’t you love the insane ticketing of the UK’s railways?).  I also decided not to be such a wimp – I don’t get invites to many academic conferences and none with the subject matter in this case – I could manage on reduced sleep (and could always ask to be elbowed in the ribs if I started to nod).  To level the playing field with my much younger brother, I sabotaged his chances of sleep by lending him my copy of Into the Woods by John Yorke.  I thought this would catch his fancy and the temptation of reading a little further might trump the desire (and need) for sleep – and Mr Yorke did not disappoint.

We finished texting each other at 01:30 on Monday morning and I needed to be out of the house again by 07:45 (I think Dimitris had the scope for a few extra minutes of duvet-hugging before his departure).  I think it is safe to say that the two brothers who greeted each other at Egham station at 10:00 had been from their beds untimely ripp’d and so were deficient in a full complement of sleep.  As on Sunday, Southwest Trains ensured that only one of us arrived on time but you can put your thumbscrews away, I’m not talking.

We were bleary-eyed so that we could attend the conference entitled 20th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide: Denial, Commemoration or Reconciliation? staged in the Picture Gallery at Royal Holloway, University of London; and so is the title finally explained.  Not an obvious choice for a “date”, you might think.  My brother had a reason to attend, he is a member of the university and the subject matter relates to some of his writing, I was there because I thought it would be a learning opportunity that was unlikely to be repeated.  I wasn’t disappointed: the speakers were of variable quality but the conference overall was very interesting and covered an area I knew little about.  Whilst Srebrenica was the primary focus, it contained many lessons that could (and should) be applied much more widely – but which, in all too many cases, humanity seems to have forgotten or wilfully ignored.  Before going, I was slightly worried – given my tendency to lachrymosity – that I would spend the whole day sobbing uncontrollably, but this only became a major risk during one of the talks.  Perhaps surprisingly this wasn’t the one given by the survivor from Srebrenica and its death march but the Scottish forensic scientist, Robert McKee, describing the attempt to identify the bodies (often deliberately dispersed over a wide area).  The conference left me glad that I had torn myself from my unfinished (barely started even) slumbers.

After some hours of such harrowing, we decided to decompress with a cup of tea and/or coffee at a pub near Egham Station.  For reasons I cannot fully explain, this somehow morphed into me enjoying three pints of Harvey’s Best Bitter (surprisingly far from its Lewes home).  I did not enjoy these pints alone, but accompanied by a highly entertaining conversation with my brother in the sunny garden of the pub: given his greater experience of direct exposure to our local star, he sat in the sun and I in partial shade (had it been raining, our positions would have been reversed to play to my own climate strengths).  Actually, I must commend the pub as the garden at both front and rear provided free sunscreen for patrons to use – if only I had made a note of its name this recommendation would have been rendered so much more valuable.  Chatting about language and writing with someone who is both interested and well-informed was a lovely way to round off the afternoon – though I will admit that we did perhaps stray a little from the purity of thesis which the first part of this sentence might suggest.  Any time I can use the word idiolect in conversation, both correctly and without it seeming out of place, is time very well spent in my book.

After the third pint, the lack of sleep was catching up with us both and so we delivered ourselves back to the tender mercies of Southwest Trains and vague hopes of a pair of timely journeys home.  The difficult sophomore tryst having been a resounding success, I feel we have removed a lot of the pressure from any potential third assignation (and if you thought I was stretching the meaning of “tryst”, I have now snapped the sense of “assignation” in two).  As I have been writing this post – very slowly as a result of the crippling heat – it struck me that all three structured events forming the basis of our encounters to-date were essentially free.  I wonder how long we can maintain this tradition of holding such fiscally responsible conclaves?

Philology

From my very limited grasp of the Greek language (I still feel that any gala should involve a celebration of milk), I believe the title should refer to a love of words.  Mr Collins is rather drier in his definition going with “comparative and historical linguistics” or, more broadly, a “study of literature”.  He also notes that it is no longer in scholarly use – so ideal for GofaDM!

So far as I know, I have always loved words.  As a tiny, wee nipper I would insist that any text within my visual field was read out to me – or so my mother tells me.  As a result, she took advice from my aunt (a teacher) on how to teach me to read (earlier than was then the norm) in the hope that this might shut me up.  In the whole field of human endeavour, this may be one of the least successful activities ever attempted – not only did it singularly fail to shut me up, my excessive loquacity has now spread to the medium of print and thus to your eyes, dear reader.

I still feel the need to read any print: despite any language barrier that may exist or any propriety that might be offended – I really need to control my urge to read other people’s tattoos (though my “worst” tattoo-related incident was studying a chap’s body art to try and work out which mes0-American culture it was pastiching: Olmec, I think).

This obsession with words might explain my vulnerability to my continuing theatre-addiction and explain something of the nature of the GofaDM.  The style of this blog may have little to commend it, but I do try to give otherwise neglected words a little bit of exercise and a brief glimpse of the sky.  I like to imagine a few readers now using some more obscure vocabulary in their everyday lives – no doubt to the dismay or confusion of their nearest and most expensive.

As was recently established, via the work of Antonio Serrano on The Verb, I can love words even when I can only understand a little of what is said and the position of the word boundaries.  In the recent In Our Time on Rabindranath Tagore, one of the academics read a short extract from his early poem Sonar Tari (the Golden Boat) in its original Bengali.  This was amazing enough to cover my arms in goosebumps, despite my total ignorance of the language and not even knowing when one word ended and another began.  Subsequent research shows that Bengali is also a beautiful language to look at, though again means nothing to my uneducated eyes.  It does look potentially confusing too, as a 4 looks like an 8 and a 7 like a 9: maybe I should work on my Greek first, at least they use the same numbers and via mathematics I know most of the alphabet.

However, the primary stimulus behind this post is A L Kennedy.  I have now read the first two stories in her latest collection, All The Rage.  I am rationing them as they are too rich to be consumed en masse.  The first, Late in Life, I more-or-less managed to read in her voice – or the best approximation that the voices in my head can achieve.  For the second, Baby Blue, I was stuck in my own voice for some reason – even though I had heard the author read a sizeable extract a couple of months back.  Despite the (OK, my) voice, the story is the most perfect piece of prose that I can imagine existing – every word is necessary and just the right one for its place.  I would wonder how she manages this, but I know she goes through hundreds of drafts which must be part of the reason – however, I could do that and get nowhere close to this standard of writing.  I’ve read very well-reviewed books, Nobel-Prize winners even, and many have been very good – but in none have the words achieved quite such an apotheosis.  Still, the fact I can at least recognise such excellence does give me hope (a very vague and distant hope) that I can construct an objective function against which to measure the deficiencies of my own writing and identify improvements (and plenty of these literary fruit should be suspended pretty close to terra firma).  However, this paragraph does demonstrate with irritating precision my inability to fully convey my own thoughts as I would wish – though perhaps I’m not alone. One of the many positive, professional reviews of All The Rage says that it “celebrates love like a hungry dog celebrates the corpse of a rabbit”.  Perhaps I need to more fully embrace the metaphor and not just for (weak) comic effect or in chronic over-extension.

I wonder if this embrace of the short story and poetry might be an indicator of incipient adulthood (though, if I’m honest, I really don’t think I can pull off a hood – style-wise I mean, this is not a comment on the lack of flexibility in my shoulders) – or have a just discovered my teenage angst a mere three decades too late?

Meeting your heroes

The activity suggested by today’s title is somewhat contraindicated by proverbial wisdom: though I would have thought this would depend on the nature of both your heroes and the proposed encounter.

I don’t think that I have “heroes” in the traditional sense – whilst I clearly aspire to be other than I am, this is a yearning for a generic other rather than to acquire aspects of a specific other.  This may be down to a failure of imagination (a theory that GofaDM readers will find it easy to accept) or perhaps an acceptance of my lack of potential.  It also reflects my understanding (one which seems wholly absent from the media) that being heroic in one aspect of life does not (and probably can not) mean heroic in all: even if we could agree what that might mean.  To the extent I have heroes, they are also drawn from a slightly different pool than is probably typical: usually academics and writers, rather than the more typical celebrity aspirational targets.

In a desperate effort to keep the conceit of this post alive I will admit that there are many people who evince abilities that I find impressive (and often, frankly, magical).  In very local news, the latest follower of this blog (who would seem either to have some recent Greek heritage or be a major Hellenophile unafraid to use a Deed Poll) is a far better writer than I will ever be: his angry, funny tale of a painful coat-carrying incident does lead me to wonder why he is following this rubbish.  Still, GofaDM will offer refuge to any comers (whatever my views on their sanity): an idealised Ellis Island of the web (if you like).

Last week, I was uncharacteristically excited about the chance to meet someone (relatively) famous – and so was clearly setting myself up for disappointment (which to destroy any narrative tension, did not occur).  I have been a fan of A L Kennedy since hearing her on the much maligned Quote, Unquote many years ago.  It can’t remember what it was that drew me to her then, though the Dundee accent may well have been involved.  However, her reputation in my eyes has been cemented by her performances on A Point of View – which are incredibly well-written and read.  Usually, I cook (or do some other physical activity) while listening to spoken-word podcasts, but with A L Kennedy I have to concentrate fully on the words.  I think she may be my favourite contributor to the strand – and this is against a very strong field.  I’ve only read one of her volumes of short stories, which may have been a little too adult for me (and not in terms of an 18 rating) – but which were amazingly well written.

Anyway, the Nuffield offered a chance to see her live (long “i”, though she did also manage the short “i” version) as part of their Writers in Conversation series and so off I cycled through the drizzle to meet an almost hero.  As so often with the famous, Alison is much smaller in person than she seems on the radio – but less commonly, even lovelier.  She read a chunk from her latest volume, All the Rage (which as a result I now own, but have yet to read and really want the voice in my head to attempt the A L Kennedy delivery when I do) and then we had an hour’s Q&A session.  This was really fascinating – even to a lousy writer like me.  Given that even in my most serious writing phase (preparing my well-regarded Open University assignments) I used only three (major) drafts, the fact that every page of her books will have gone through more than 100 drafts indicated a whole different level of commitment to the result (and one which will not be applied to GofaDM any time soon!).  In answering my(!) question, she mentioned that aPoV is in the old Alistair Cooke slot and what an honour it was to be asked to fill it.  She mentioned a particular Letter from America dating to the first performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – and as a result, I have had to buy a book of his (Cooke’s) writings.  Oscar Wilde may have been able to resist everything except temptation but while I’m generally less easily led into temptation, when it comes to books (in the words of the Borg) resistance is futile.

I am always pleasantly surprised by how much fun one can have for a fiver (or less) at the Nuffield – and elsewhere, for that matter: last week I also saw both Joe Lycett and Stuart Goldsmith do an hour of work-in-progress stand-up (though Mr Goldsmith in particular seemed to have little need for further progress) for the same modest sum at the Pleasance in Islington.  The downside (for me) is after these cheap events I then feel the need to blow many times the cost of entry on (often quite tangentially) related books (or supporting the institution so it can continue to offer such loss-leaders).

This talk of heroes led me to wonder if anyone considers the author in this context.  I would certainly hope not, I live with the fool and can assure you there is nothing heroic about him.  However, I did discover yesterday that an employee of a local tyre company (who had apparently witnessed some of my physical jerks) refers to me as “the silver fox” – not an epithet I have ever aspired to, but I think it was meant as a compliment.  I suppose he could just be referring to the fact that I am going grey and am often to be found going through other people’s bins – but I’m going to cling to a more positive interpretation.

Crushing the whimsy

Worry not, no small china ornaments were harmed in the making of this post.

It must have been some four summers ago – back in the days when we still had summers – that I first saw Stuart Goldsmith.  It was my first year attending the Cambridge Comedy Festival and he came as part of a triple bill of comics trying out their material for Edinburgh (so three shows of an hour each) and which cost a tenner in total (or it may only have been a fiver).    At the time, I know almost nothing about him – but as the marginal cost of his gig was basically zero I figured it was worth a punt (and let’s face it, he does have excellent choice in first names).  The gig nearly didn’t happen, as until 5 minutes before it was due to start I was the audience, but luckily followers of kanban arrived just-in-time to swell the audience to something slightly more respectable.  He was my big discovery from that year’s festival and definitely the best thing I saw – though, so far as I know, he has never returned to Cambridge in a professional capacity since.  As a result, I have had to take in his two later Edinburgh shows at source (i.e. Auld Reekie).  All three shows have been really entertaining and, somehow, just a bit different from the norm.

However, possibly his greatest contribution to the sum total of human knowledge and happiness has been the Comedian’s Comedian podcast (follow @comcompod) – something I found through following him on Twitter (the acceptable face of stalking).  This has a simple premise: each time Stuart interviews another comedian about how they entered the business and their “process” and this is then edited down to around an hour for the edification of the listening millions.  These interviews are endlessly fascinating and absorbing, even with interviewees I don’t expect to like (and sometimes would probably find deeply irritating if I met them in person).  Whilst I have no huge interest in stand-up as a career – way too many late nights and far too much driving for my taste (it would seriously interfere with my theatre-going for a start) and at my advanced age standing for a whole hour would be a stretch – people’s explanations of their creative process have been amazingly interesting and frequently very funny.  Many of the issues stand-ups face creating material are the same one’s I faced writing essays for the OU or even the more prosaic writing I do in the day job – and some of their solutions are rather novel and I shall certainly be trying some of them in the future.  I have learnt a surprising amount about the human condition, creativity and even how to be happy from this series of podcasts (and quite a bit about the delicate mental state of the host – and I thought I was a worrier).  However, no warranty (express or implied) is offered that these insights will lead to any improvement in the quality of GofaDM.

In early February a live comcompod was staged in a modest room above a pub in a relatively glitter-free part of London’s famous West End.  Upstairs (or downstairs) at a pub is, for my money, where comedy should be staged; it just isn’t right for a stadium or huge theatre, it needs to have a degree of intimacy (and probably a slight excess of human perspiration).  I’d also say live comedy is, like live music, way better than the televised kind and so would encourage people to go out and see it for themselves – it is usually pretty cheap: comcompod was a mere £6 for a very full two hours of fun.  In exchange for our poorly cephalopod, we not only had compering from Mr Goldsmith but a set from Rob Sandling (who I’d not seen before, but would again) and one of new material from James Acaster before he was interviewed for the second half.  This was one of the best comedy gigs I’ve been to, with a lovely crowd – mostly listeners to the podcast (or those they’d dragged along for moral support) – and I shall certainly try and make any subsequent live performances.  It was a real great and novel way of consuming comedy.

It was James Acaster, in this interview, who provided the title for this post when describing how he writes new material.  As a phrase it was just too good not to use – and it could easily become the new strapline for GofaDM.

On writing

I believe that professional writers, once they reach a certain level of success, are asked how to write by those who believe that a novel (or film or sitcom) lies within just waiting to be unleashed.  To the surprise of no-one, least of all myself, I have yet to be so cross-examined: but will share my modest insights nonetheless (yes, I do recognise that if my insights were properly modest, I would not be broadcasting them to an unfeeling world: I’m just ignoring this fact).

Since starting this blog, and feeling the pressure to keep producing new content, I have written more than at any previous point in my life.  This requirement to write has intensified since starting my Open University course for which I have to produce an essay (or two) every month (now up to 1500 words).  This writing has to be produced to a rather higher standard than the blog and to stick to the point substantially better.  As a result, they take a lot longer to produce – and despite the evidence to the contrary, these posts take quite a period of time to craft from the raw material of language.

I believe the most common advice to the novice writer is to just write.  In my experience, this is very much to the mustard.  I find it very easy to spend many days, sometimes well over a week, thinking about an essay – but at some point, nothing moves forward unless I start to write it.  After the first draft, I tend to be cast into the slough of despond (nowhere near Eton, whatever one J Betjeman and his entreaty to airborne ordnance might suggest) as the writing seems awful, I’m over the word limit and have still failed to cover a number of points I feel are critical to include.  I then try and leave the abomination for at least a couple of days (not always easy) and then return to redraft.  This is usually much better and covers all the bases within the word limit (though I generally require most of my 10% allowance), but still not really there.  The second redraft a day or so later, usually allows the essay to reach its apogee – it is still not perfect, but I can live with it and it seems unlikely to improve to a material degree with further effort.  Earlier this week, my opus on the art of Benin finally reached this state and was submitted – only time, and my tutor’s marking, will tell whether it achieved the required standard.

The blog is a fish of a rather different feather.  No-one provides a subject, word or time limit for the production of a post.  Nor am I required to write in the academic style or quote my sources (though I could if there were pressure from the readership).  This freedom is all well and good, but my relatively incident-free life (by design) coupled with the desire to be funny (hadn’t noticed?  Oh well…) does lead to my life being dominated by the tyranny of the blank page (or web form) somewhat frequently.  I also feel I should try and be somewhat original – though seven billion other souls on the planet (assuming humans, and only humans, are possessed of souls) makes this a challenge (and rather hard to test) – but at least I can try and avoid the merely trite or clichéd (which is doubly a past-participle: would that make it a pluperfect, in Franglais if nowhere else?).  However, I may be hindered in these attempts by my general failure to understand how other (they might like to think “normal”) people ratiocinate: generalising from myself seldom leads to as much insight as hoped.  To my astonishment, I do still seem to come up with topics on which to witter from the minutiae of my existence – despite being well into the difficult second year of the blog – though I now find myself wondering if used this idea before (and am too generally lazy to check).

I tend to feel posts are overly long, without the discipline imposed by the OU, with too much text integument needed to link the key ideas together.  Perhaps with more time, I could produce more condensed material – with less extraneous detail, though that can sometimes provide a useful diary function for me (which could be handy if I ever decide to write my Memoirs).  Despite these reservations, when I look back over the 335 back-numbers – usually in response to a post being viewed by a reader – they do still make me laugh.  (If you will indulge me in a brief divagation, why are the good folk of India so interested in a Moppsikon Floppsikon Bear?  Is it on their national curriculum?  This blog is  receiving an unusually large number of hits from this search – and I’d never realised Edward Lear was so big on the sub-continent, and fear I am going to be of little practical assistance).  The occasional idea of mine really appeals to me, most recently the concordance between a rail journey and 2001: this is one of the few ideas that feels as though it could be worked up into a proper chunk of a stand-up act (most require far too high a level of general knowledge to ever work in public).

Still, it has never been my intent to rest on any member of the family Lauraceae (whomsoever claims ownership) and I seek continuous improvement.  As part of this drive, I found the excellent Comedian’s Comedian podcast: which is a series of interviews by Stuart Goldsmith (a man whose comedy and forename I admire) that provide a fascinating insight into how proper comedians come up with ideas and write material.  Reassuringly they face many of the same problems that I do; annoyingly they seem to resolve them rather more successfully.  This listening has also had the positive effect – for the world at large – of putting me off a career in stand-up: it seems to be seriously hard work with far too many late nights.  I think I shall stick to writing material for other poor saps to perform (while I am safely tucked up ‘neath a duvet): which reminds me of the very poor progress made on two other writing projects: the panto and the poesy post.  Must try harder…

German trinity anxiety

Or perhaps it should be Magyar rather than German?  Either way, this post is all about three Hun dread.  Yes, GofaDM has reached its third century – though it probably feels longer.

I had considered a video post, with the author stripped to the waist and oiled for battle to generate a worldwide outbreak of swooning at his chiselled torso (though I should warn you that my woodworking skills are almost non-existent: it was a great relief to both my woodwork teacher and me when I was able to quietly drop the subject).  However, on further, immature consideration I decided against this plan: whilst the internet would no doubt furnish an audience for such a spectacle, I think there is already quite enough material in rather dubious taste available to the surfer without any augmentation at my hands.  I also remembered that the eponymous apple probably represents my closest approach to the concept of Spartan.  It is also worth noting that rather more than 300 souls faced the King of Kings at Thermopylae: what with the allied Thebans and Thespians (yes, apparently the Spartans had their own version of ENSA) and the helots (who had little choice in the matter).  Leonidas and his followers may not have survived the battle, but I’m sure he’d be thrilled to know that he has now been immortalised in Belgian chocolate.

Still, few would have thought, way back in the more innocent days of 2010, that I had quite so much foolishness in me – or quite so much commitment to the project.  Nor that it would escape the censure of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for so long.

I had thought that my rather ordinary life would soon stop yielding new material: but apparently not.  It does so help to set the bar low in life, unless one is attempting limbo.  Despite the volume of material now produced, I fear I am little closer to a viable stand-up act, sitcom or side-splitting panel show concept.  I wonder if I may be spending too much time preparing weak jokes that require a detailed knowledge of the works of both Olivier Messaien and Douglas Adams?  The audience for which can probably be counted on the fingers of a very clumsy threshing machine operator.

Oh well, if I fire enough arrows one may eventually hit a target: or at least identify a suitable burial site for my writing career (I am from Nottingham, after all).  Until, then the punishment (and those first three letters were fully intended) will continue until morale improves.