Friday, June 25, 2010

Welcome to Cornwall, home of the gratuitous diatribe by disaffected sixtysomethings

The obscure website to which I subscribe which claims to ‘monitor’ traffic to this blog — and I don’t even begin to understand how it works or why it even exists — tells me that I had a recent visitor who arrived here after following up links to ‘Cornwall’. Well, Lord knows what he or she made of this blog. The most recent entry is merely and unshamed plug for my novel (should that be ‘novel’) which, I am sure, will have fallen on deaf ears, and the entry before that was a bad-tempered outburst about ‘hacks’ and quite how awful they are (for which I make no apology: two days ago, I bought Private Eye. The former Mail news editor who has recently been promoted to assistant editor and now sits on the features desk (and who is otherwise rather a good egg) borrowed it to read. When I got it back, I discovered he had come across a story he wanted the Mail to follow up and had simply ripped out a page. Now call me old-fashioned, but I find that quite a bizarre thing to do. To his credit he replaced my copy with the copy the news editor gets and apologised profusely. But it was a paradigm of the kind of thing which goes on among hacks.
But my visitor, in search of references to all things Cornish will surely have wondered what the bloody hell my diatribe against hacks has to do with Cornwall, Kernow, tin, tourism, obesity, teenage pregnancy, poor housing, retired diplomats, non-Cornish in twee pixie hats trying to flow you tat in the resorts on the south coast, scruffy ‘museums’ claiming to prove that King Arthur’s Camelot was just north of Camelford (motto: ‘never let a chance nominal resemblance go to waste and screw the public for all its worth’, though to be fair there are the remains of a castle — though admittedly not a lot — at Tintagel which is said to have been the home of Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon and where Arthur was born), and generally loads of Brummy, Lancshire and London immigrants trying to cobble together a living.
Cornwall is one of those places which sounds romantic from afar but which turns out to be something quite different once you get here. Newquay, for example, is a hole, full of drunken teens pissing away their welfare payments. Lord, this is turning into yet another diatribe. Must spend the rest of the day pretending I am not over 60.
PS For those who are interested, I am taking Pottery, my stepmother’s 19-year-old cat to the vet’s to have his bandage replaced. He recently had a cyst removed.
Have a nice day.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hello again, and please buy my novel because no one else is. Pearls before swine? Or just another piece of cack?

Not posted anything here for a while, and I don’t know why not. There’s no particular reason, it’s just that from scribbling here about once a day, I went to writing nothing at all. It’s not that there is nothing to write about, and it’s not that when I was writing I had anything particularly interesting to say. In fact, in an odd sort of way the satisfaction of periodically posting this blog didn’t come from having got something down on paper (so to speak - quaint phrase that, odd to use it here in the digital age) but in the getting it down. I’m not a writer but a talker. It’s that activity which I enjoy, shallow as it might be. To put it another way, there’s less to me than meets the eye. Why all this? Well, I’ve just been watching a film called I’m Not There, a rather unusual biography of Bob Dylan. I haven’t actually finished it yet, because it is over two hours long and I don’t really want a late night. It is one of those films which, for no obvious reason, holds your interest although you cannot make head of tail of it. We often think that ‘the message’ is the thing, but films such as I’m Not There prove us wrong. You cannot fake engagement. You can lie about it to others, but you can’t lie about it to yourself. If you are engaged but you don’t know why, it doesn’t matter: what is important is that you are engaged. When I visit an art gallery, I walk around it quickly, looking at all the paintings on show, and then I walk around it again more slowly and find that some works hold my attention for longer than others. I don’t know why that should be so, and I’m not going to go off at some bullshit tangent speculating as to why that is so. The only important point is that it is so: some works hold my attention for longer than others. So when it comes to writing, I have nothing to say at all. It is the saying I want to make interesting. That is why I am disappointed by the various reactions to Letters Never Sent (latterly retitled Love: A Fiction and available to buy here or alternatively here) because no one, but no one ‘got it’. What I attempted to do, and what I feel I succeeded in doing, was very straightforward. And because it was (is) my first novel and I didn’t really have the confidence of an experienced writer, I larded it with any number of clues as to what was going on hoping that readers would cotton on. But no one, but no one, ‘got it’, so the inescapable conclusion, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that it isn’t as well written as it might have been. Even the new title - Love: A Fiction - which is intended to work on three levels (three rather simple levels at that - I’m not at all trying to be clever-clever) is a giveaway. Oh well.