Or lockdown level 4 as we call it here in South Africa.
Unlike the old Pop Will Eat Itself classic referenced in the title of this post I can’t even scoot off to the drive through and order Big Mac and Fries to go, although theoretically I could probably arrange it via WhatsApp or some other medium to eventually arrive in a lukewarm box of misery.
I listened to a poem this morning penned by the Welsh entertainer Max Boyce. Entitled, When Just The Tide Went Out he wrote it in tribute to the NHS and frontline workers in the UK who are so valiantly fighting to keep the corona virus at bay.
After hearing it through the first time I played it for my wife, and, only a few lines in, I couldn’t stop myself from crying.
The swell of emotion took me completely by surprise, but it was acute and visceral and has left me thinking about it for the rest of the day.
In my mind.
That’s the beauty of headlines and blog posts – you can make up any old shit and it’ll grab some attention. Sure, in the long run people might start to see through the old classics of sticking Jesus, Porn, Jesus Porn and NaNoWriMo in your tags list but it’s still fun at the time.
The truth is I was shocked to discover that I’ve written the sum total of five blog posts in 2018 – which is probably five more than the sum total of stories I’ve written this year – and I felt the need to ramble on to all 283 of you kindly souls who’ve stuck by me through these lean times.
When I say “stuck by me” I mean it in the truest “entirely forgotten I existed” sense of the phrase.
If I were to take a quick straw poll of average humans on an average day in Averageville (Popn: Lots) asking how they thought their lives could be improved I’m willing to bet (don’t quote me, I don’t have a lot of spare cash right now) an above average number would claim that the addition of stuff (or indeed, things) would be the way to go.
And they’d be wrong.
Poor, sweet, hypothetical fools.
Today marked the end of my fourth week in a new job. People change jobs all the time of course, but for me, smack in the middle of my forties and with no experience of life with another employer on the African continent it was quite a scary leap.
It’s the best decision I’ve made in a very long time.
According to my extensive internet-based research, a blog post at the tail end of one year or the beginning of the next is legally obliged to include some kind of list. Top ten achievements, number of words written, number of kilometres jogged* – that kind of thing.
So with that in mind here’s a list of blog-relevant stuff I didn’t do enough of in 2017.
End of list.
2017 was a very weird year for me and subsequently 2018 seems to have kicked off with the inevitable hangover. Somewhere during the course of the year I misplaced my ambition and I’m having a bugger of a job finding it.
Ten years ago today I woke up early to the sound of birds – typical of a Johannesburg spring morning. It hadn’t been the most restful or peaceful of slumbers. When I’d initially dropped off to sleep the night before my brother came and woke me up because there was a moth in his room. Thirteen months of living in deepest, darkest Africa had prepared me for such events and so I swiftly stepped forward and twatted it with a flip flop (the moth rather than my dear brother although I was tempted…).
After that I lay awake for quite a while contemplating the universe as one does in the small hours leading up to your wedding.
According to the wonderfulness of the world wide interweb, blog etiquette – and by etiquette I mean tricks you can perform to get more readers engaged – dictates that a blog post should end with a question.
There was probably a point to that opening paragraph but then I got distracted by two things.
Firstly, the idea of a blog dictating something conjured up images of a whole bunch of words clustering together to form a likeness of Hitler strutting rage-filled and jack-booted across my perfect word-free (undoubtedly white, possibly blond-haired and blue-eyed) page spouting propaganda.
Secondly, I got to wondering if it would be simpler to just read the last line of every post in a cliched Australian accent so that a question would be implied? Thereby obviating the need to pose an actual question.
Going home or, more accurately, travelling from your home to a place you used to call home years ago drowns you in familiar dislocation. Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep or the fact that these journeys so often start in the soft hours before dawn that heightens our sensitivity to the weird. Either way, you feel like an interloper in a land where time, unlike your memories, has ticked on.
Bypasses plough their economically booming furrow through the land. New buildings thrive in the displaced earth on either side. That’s what it said on the slideware so it must be true, right? I wonder what happens when there’s nothing left to bypass.
Didn’t so and so used to live there? Next to the roundabout? Wait…was there a roundabout there before?
In the end everything will ignite.
Books. Skin. Pre-apocalyptic utopian puppies.
All of it.
My second novel will smoulder alongside the incinerated remains of my first while I stab at my molten keyboard, desperate to smash out a story idea before my fingertips fuse to the metal.
I got bored earlier and did a quick search for top tips for a successful blog. Based on the results it’s clear to me that no-one else knows what the fuck they’re doing so I feel strangely comforted. Given that the internet is a place where you can probably confirm and/or deny that the collective noun for opening gambits is indeed a pentagram it’s best to set your expectation-phasers to stun(ningly low).
There were a couple of pearlers in there – perhaps the best of which was, “Be Awesome!”
Here I was settling for a consistent dose of mediocrity where all along what I should have been striving for was a hunka-chunka-burning-awesome.