I literally (and literary) don’t know where to start…….

That’s the whole problem when you return after a bit of a hiatus and let’s face it, it’s not just these last couple of weeks, I’ve been pretty flakey for some months now!

  1. Do you avail everyone of everything that’s been going on in your life since the last time you shared your experiences on your blog and risk boring everyone to death?
  2. Do you pick out the highlights and then just come across as a sickeningly, self-indulgent ‘show off’?
  3. Do you pick on the more comedic lowlights that you believe everyone will be able to relate to but then somehow come across as a whining, pessimistic grumble guts moaning about the heat, moaning about the lack of sleep…moan, moan, moan?
  4. Or do you simply bypass everything that happened before today,  like someone suffering from instant onset amnesia, pick a completely random subject and wax lyrical about it in the hope that everybody just falls back in? No questions asked, no explanations given.

Let’s see how that pans out after my usual preamble rambling.

You see, it wasn’t really an intentional break from writing, but what with the stifling heat addling my brain and genuinely being a little busier than normal just doing ‘adulting’ and getting on with various necessary things in life (though not anything interesting or exciting enough to warrant recounting to you all ) the writing just seemed to take a natural backseat for the last few weeks/months and then you find that getting back into it is actually a lot more difficult than you imagined it would be.

The previous conditioning that I had managed to instil in myself to be able to achieve at least some semblance of writing and a publishing deadline each week had started to disintegrate and what’s more, I seemed to have gotten away with it entirely.

Nobody noticed, nobody cared, nobody suffered as a result.

There was that delicious little mischievous thought, like playing truant from school and perhaps also a nagging self-doubt that kept surfacing about the long, uphill struggle ahead of me, in being able to continue to manage a weekly prose and I ended up thinking to myself; shall I just let it go completely? Abandon it. No announcement, no farewell, just stop.

Like untying the mooring rope on a tiny little dinghy and pushing it out into the vast expanse of ocean, to drift off entirely without course or intervention, perhaps never to be seen or heard from again.

Because even when I eventually did find that I had the time to sit down and start writing again, I found myself staring into a big empty expanse of nothingness. The dinghy had floated away beyond the horizon and seemingly taken what modicum of creativeness I had with it. Not a single idea was coming to mind.

This carried on for a few days, then a few weeks, no ideas, little inclination, no real motivation but also no genuine need or reason to feel overly concerned about it except that I missed it.

I missed the somewhat trivial routine of having to test my brain for a story each week, planning it’s layout and its final publication to the handful of people who would take the time out to read it.

I decided to stop being such an idle slouch and get back into it.

I had every intention of settling down on Monday with a new sense of purpose to do some creative writing, but following a BBQ on Sunday with our friends, it was suddenly all too obvious that a day of writing on Monday was not going to happen. No sir!

A mid-afternoon BBQ where your first drink at half-past-two is a very large Aperol Spritz, followed by continuous and copious amounts of Prosecco.

I had vaguely remembered reading something about ‘drinking in the afternoon’ and it saying that if you have a few lunchtime tipples and then stopped you would experience a hangover before you even got to your bed that evening. Well, quite frankly, who needs that?

My obvious solution to this was to continue drinking all afternoon and at least stave off the dreaded hangover until the following day. Thankfully, I did at least partake of the occasional interim glass of water or fruit juice and decided that I was being very sensible indeed. I also didn’t think that I had drunk that much and was busy congratulating myself on how ‘grown-up’ I had obviously been, when the random little bouts of Danny Dyer and Micky Flanagan impersonations and the utter bollocks and nonsense that I generally talk after precisely three glasses of anything alcoholic, came wafting back to me the following morning.

The problem is, I always have such good intentions of going along and just enjoying a ‘few’ sociable glasses of something lovely but for reasons genuinely unknown to me, I find this a physical impossibility once I am there. The food, the banter, the flowing bubbles, the continually empty glass.

Drink, pleasantries, drink, chat, drink, more chat, drink, appetisers (a bit of food but perhaps already too late to effectively be lining the old stomach!) , drink, some delicious food, drink, the ‘bollocks’ has probably started at this point, drink, I’m now repeating myself, drink starting to slur or actually use completely the wrong words in incoherent sentences. On it goes.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I do this all the time! Our social events are very few and far between and we have significantly curbed the drinking at home unless there is a specific occasion because it’s very easy, when living in France, to just automatically crack open a bottle of wine with every evening meal but after my first summer of living here and entertaining a continual stream of guests and visitors for months on end, we decided that we’d better knock the casual evening vino on the head.

So, perhaps I get drunk quickly because I don’t actually drink that often but when I do it seems to be a whole weeks worth, or perhaps I just get overly excited when there is someone other than just the two of us to converse with and it all comes out in an overly enthusiastic gabble, or perhaps it’s because deep down I’m just a bit of a stage-starved-show-off, a ‘natural entertainer’ who doesn’t get out nearly enough. Who knows?

All I can do is hope that my friends have fully come to expect this, we haven’t actually known them all that long, but long enough by now, I hope for them to have a pretty general idea of what they are letting themselves in for.
To be fair, I wasn’t really all that bad, we had a very pleasant afternoon and evening. I’m not saying I got up on the table like an embarrassing drunk and mimed to Dancing Queen or did a striptease routine or anything like that, I’m just a bit ‘boisterous’ and possibly a little ‘overbearing’ when I’m well oiled, by drink number three, the casual swearing will normally start, soon after that the ‘political correctness’ filter will all but entirely dissolve and certainly conversations of old may well be repeated.
That said, anyone who has known me for a very, very long time, will absolutely appreciate the huge, concerted efforts I have made in recent years to considerably tone down my more outrageous behaviour …. I used to be an absolute, bloody nightmare!

Consequently, far from being in the right frame of mind to do some long overdue writing on Monday. I was instead feeling more like this……..

Monday was, therefore, effectively a write-off.

I spent much of it either laying on the bed in front of the fan or laying on the sofa, trying to read the last few chapters of Richard Morgan’s Broken Angels the second Takeshi Kovacs novel, the follow up to the brilliant Altered Carbon.

I still had chapters thirty-nine through forty-two, plus the Epilogue to read and I was struggling.

I would read a page, move onto the next and then find myself having to immediately review the previous page again as it hadn’t quite sunk in the first time. It’s considered perfectly acceptable to require an occasional recap, perhaps if you had to stop for a while to do something else, but this was happening every single page during a continuous reading session.

It was the literary equivalent of sewing in backstitch. Read, advance, reread.
Very, very slowly, I was getting absolutely nowhere.
I gave up and eventually succumbed to just staring into space through slightly crossed eyes.

Tuesday was better, I was awake at six, up, dressed and ready to crack on by eight but by then I had missed my ideal window of opportunity and found that there were various other things that needed my attention after a whole day of doing nothing and wallowing in hungover self-pity.
I made what you could call a ‘start’ but I have to say, it was a struggle and I found I was much too easily distracted. I did, however, finally finish Broken Angels and having done so, I can now conclude that there were so many twists and turns in the final few chapters that achieving its completion with anything other than ‘full alertness’ would have been utterly impossible, no wonder I had struggled so much the previous day.

On to Wednesday and the sum total of my achievements were……. I made a curry for dinner! That’s it! I made a curry and we ate said curry.

Thursday arrived and like many looming deadlines, I knew I had to settle down and make a steadfast effort and leave Friday for contingency. So I cracked out my MAC to pick up where I had left off on Tuesday… not quite a blank page, but not much further advanced than that.
I decided that before I totally absorbed myself in writing, I’d better just jot down a quick shopping list of bits that we need, once again, remarking on the perplexing fact that having been shopping no less than FIVE times last week we still appeared to have a totally empty fridge! I’m beginning to wonder perhaps if my Fridge exists in the exact same space where a parallel universe portal is located or is locked in some kind of dimensional paradox. I seem to fill it up, close the door and the very next time I open it, it is completely devoid of content.
Having completed an emergency shopping list in which to replenish the galaxy I turned my attentions to a few emails that had popped in and then just as I finished and pressed send to the last one, a white van appeared in the view of my lounge window, followed promptly by a loud rap on the front door. A huge box was delivered, some bits I had ordered on line at the weekend.
Clearly, these required my immediate attention!

Several hours later……I still had not finished my blog, or been shopping, or done anything else vaguely constructive.

So here I am on Friday, recounting to you perhaps the most boring, unproductive week in the history of mankind and thus ultimately proving that if you really put your mind to it, you can write about literally anything!

It wasn’t really the ‘comeback’ I had been hoping for, however, it could have been worse, I could have tried to find an interesting angle on Brexit or Quantum Physics…….Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sadly, I’m now out of time so we’ll have to see what next week brings.
I’d give you a clue if I had the faintest idea myself.
Until next week (or at least my very good ‘intentions’ of a submission next week).

The Virtual Recluse