I’ve always been one of those nervy writers. As the saying goes “you’re only as good as your last piece (of writing)”. Something like that anyway. These kind of anxieties affect us all. Even the greats – Hemingway, Faulkner, Twain and that’s just the Americans. If your last piece happens to be “The Old Man and the Sea” you’re home and dry. Well when I say home and dry I suppose what I really mean is “soaked to the skin and reeking of decaying tuna fish. On the other hand I’m sure the Nobel prize for literature probably softened that minor personal inconvenience. I’d be happy to dig into the tuna mayo sarnies if I thought this act would be a surefire route to literature superstardom.
The basic truth however is that I am not wrestling with giants, not tangling with titans nor even scrapping with something beginning with S. I’ll get back to that. Or probably won’t. Who cares.
I like writing. So I, by inference, dislike those periods in which the words do not somehow percolate to the surface. And the better the piece, the longer the subsequent interval and the greater the likelihood of the resultant piece of writing being stymied by even so moderate a pause.
“I feel a bit like Rocky these days, climbing into the ring for one last hurrah. The tools, if I’m honest, are dwindling, any power of writing I possess gradually fading in intensity. I forget people’s names, I forget that I have forgotten people’s names even.
Let me give you an example. Being Saturday I went up to the cricket ground to watch a little sport and to catch up on my cricket friends and, once more, to subtly mingle my brief batting excursions with the more far-reaching batting travails of, well, pretty much anybody else. That’s the great thing about cricket and I’ll come back to it later – there are always stories.
I watched about half the match, mostly our team batting. Then, a brief coke in the pub and off to do my weekly shop. Then back to the pub around 7 to see how the other game (away) had gone. I asked one lad (we will call him T) how the other match had gone. He seemed bewildered. “I don’t know”. Then he alerted me that, not only was he not playing in the other game but that I had, but an hour or so earlier, witnessed his innings as opener. I think I made some attempt at humour along the lines of the November neurosurgery evidently had removed all but a thin veneer of grey matter and that the electrodes were failing in their duty.
To be honest it was embarrassing. For me and for T. And it’s happening more and more (the memory lapses that is, not the feeble cover-up jokes).
The column this month was meant to introduce what I am hoping will be a regular blog throughout the summer, detailing from the sidelines the exploits of our illustrious teams in their 75th anniversary season.
“What name will you use?” asked Jay. “My own” I said. “Why?” It took a moment or so to realise he was talking about the name for the column rather than the complex and needless pseudonym I might have been considering. Cyborgius Gruntfuttock perhaps. Or Yorick C. Manatee. A raised eyebrow from Jacob made it clear I had better stop.
After a few more brief excursions into combinations ofnames, it became apparent that he was talking about the name of the report.
I said to him, it needs to combine a notion of gossip and suchlike. I told him the name and such justification. I tried to explain to him – combination of cricket (actually catching a ball) and tittle tattle news.
“Yes dad, I get it”. Rolling exasperated eyes from Jacob.
“Caught at gully”. Did you see what I did there?