You might think that after publishing somewhere in the region of four and a half thousand posts over the last sixteen years that I would be able to just sit down in front of the computer, and start typing. And you would be wrong. Sometimes it’s easy – sometimes I sit down, and the words fly from my fingers as easily as turning on a tap. And sometimes it’s not so easy. I sit and stare at an empty text editor, wondering how to start – where to start – what to start writing about. It’s odd though – once I’ve started writing, the rest tends to happen all on it’s own.
I suppose it would help if my blog was about anything in particular – but it’s really not. I very rarely know what I’m going to write about before I sit down and start writing – I don’t plan anything. I sometimes read posts by others, and envy the structure, order, and considered way they present their thoughts, ideas, and recollections. My posts tend to follow the “drunk old man sitting in the corner rambling to whoever might be listening” school of blogging. It’s all good though, right (he tells himself, looking around for validation).
It’s a bit late to look for validation, really, isn’t it – after sitting in the corner rambling for sixteen years.
The thing is – I like rambling. I get to take you on a journey with me – a bit like a child being taken by the hand, and marched somewhere they really didn’t have any idea about before being pulled to their feet, and told off for getting their clothes grubby.
I think perhaps my favourite posts are the people watching ones – sitting in quiet corners in public places – airports, restaurants, bars – and recording life happening around me. I still remember the very loud man at the Holiday Inn some years ago, who found his own conversation so interesting he made sure everybody could hear his stories. I also remember the man that farted spectacularly in the Louvre gallery before walking away at quite some speed. And let’s not forget the woman in Oxford high-street that belched explosively before realising that I saw her.
Sometimes it’s the quiet moments though – sitting in a hotel room alone in a distant city while traveling with work – with nothing to do, and nowhere to go. Recording thoughts about the magazine cover city workers filling a bar in the early evening, or the drug addict reading a broadsheet newspaper like a mime act at the top of the subway steps. Walking the city streets in the early morning as newspapers and milk are delivered, and draymen lower barrels of beer into the pavement hatches of bars.
There’s nothing quite like sitting on a bus, plane, or train – forced together with people you didn’t chose, and silently logging the catalogue of objectionable qualities they might exhibit during the hours you share each other’s company. I’ve never forgotten the girl that fell asleep opposite me on the early train to London, and who’s smart business skirt fell open as she slept. I spent an hour looking determinedly out of the window, wondering if I should cover her modesty, and wake her.
It might seem mundane to some – recording the ordinary, and the unremarkable – but I’m always reminded of the time I stood on a London underground platform with my daughter.
“Look at the hundreds of people on the other platform. Just think – each one of them is happy about something, or sad about something – each one has parents, some of them have children. Each one is looking forward to something, and maybe regretting something else. They’re all going somewhere. Somebody somewhere might be waiting for them. Everybody has a story.”