A Man About A Blog
So far self-isolation has proven, for us and our neighbours at least, a chance to pause and reassess where we stand. In all the time I’ve been writing the blog I’ve hardly ever looked back at it. Now I see there have been twelve years of almost daily articles that I’ve never reassessed. The images alone are peculiar – where did I get this Sarf London Shakespeare shirt? Jumping into one archive strand, Neglected Films, leads me to 10 Great Films About The Theatre and lots of reviews, pieces on forgotten stars and writers, lots on London oddities, strange books, art and music. In June 2011 I managed to post some 65 articles in a month – did I have no other life?
The truth is I’m happiest here, doing a quick stretch on the blog each morning before starting another unproductive day on a novel. I’d like to create more long reads – there are quite a few on the site and I wish I had marked them all as such – but they take so much time that I’d end up writing no fiction. One of my favourite articles, which I had time to investigate fully, was the odd history of London’s Players Theatre, and there have been quite a few investigative pieces on writers I’ve been pleased with. I don’t remember writing about David Kato, murdered in Uganda after a newspaper witch-hunted him with the help of US evangelical churches, but apparently I did along with pieces on Savage London and racist films and the British Library and Ken Russell, but what on earth drove me to write about Paris Hilton, whoever she was, or the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ sequel ‘Love Never Dies’ (although thankfully the show did)?
The exercise of constant blog writing feels like an endless English exam – take the first subject you feel curious about today, research it and write something about it. It’s a memory exercise too, because I’ll recall associated words and connect them (when I did the piece on Marylebone yesterday I thought of a church, a shoe shop, an old friend). But when I now look back into my own obsessions I see the flaws and blind spots in my writing, the easy answers where more vigorous work was needed. The blog is not just an exercise in writing on the fly, a way of keeping one’s strength up and getting rid of frustrations; it gives everyone a way of arguing back and – as is usually the case here – zooming off onto an entirely irrelevant topic.
My mate Roger and I call it Conversational Free-falling. May you never stop doing it.
If anyone has blogs to recommend, please do so here and we’ll all benefit. And if anyone knows the origin of the phrase I’ve punned in the title of this piece, please let us know!