So the Italian Diary (like many previous attempts at blogging) bit the dust pretty quickly. Unfortunately, shortly after we returned from our holiday, life saw fit to deliver a series of great big kicks to the danglies and somehow neither my heart nor head were in the right place to revisit memories of a great holiday. I could I suppose have blogged about the ongoing saga of the universe weeing on our cornflakes, but my default setting in such circumstances is to go into hibernation rather than share my misery with the world.
But, as is often the way, good stuff came out of the aforementioned cackstorm - a new life in Bristol, the discovery of the joys of gardening (and the realisation that not all plants turn up their roots and expire when they see me coming) and, after twelve months of creative torpor, a sudden tsunami of ideas and, more importantly, the energy and motivation to shape the gush into your actual concrete things.
So, to the subject of Blogging. Please excuse this lapse into navel gazing - I've always thought that amateurs writing about writing is indicative of someone with very little to say. Professional writers have every right to hold forth on the ins and out of their craft; I've greedily guzzled some great books on writing, Russell T. Davies's The Writer's Tale being a recent (and inspiring) favourite and of course my favourite author, William Burroughs, writes about little else, well he writes about weird sex, weird drugs, sentient diseases, ancient gods and enormous talking insects, but at its heart all his work is about writing. In the blogosphere I greedily consume the fascinating and insightful musings of Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman, Paul Cornell and others, but really, I ask myself, who is interested in me whining "Writing's sooooo hard"?
So why am I about to ramble away on that very subject? I suppose to an extent it's a part of my attempt to motivate myself, to put the various excuses I use to avoid this writing lark down on paper (well, screen) to see just how daft they are. Of course it's also a matter of practice, to get myself into the habit of writing and it seemed that a good starting point to exorcise my inky demons. So please excuse this exercise in self indulgence, it won't happen again.
I'll start from the inside and work out. Like many creative types I walk a fine line between total extrovert egomania and a crippling shyness. My early ventures into the public exposure of my creative side were all as part of bands, and somehow that collective approach to creativity suited me well - partly as a result of the shared responsibility of putting on a group performance - if it was a disaster, it couldn't be all my fault, and partly through not wanting to let others down - after all when there's five of you, one of you can't suddenly mumble "Noooo I don't want to do it" and lock yourself in the bathroom - well, at least not until you've got a couple of successful albums under your belt anyway. Flash forward a decade an a half or so, to putting on my first solo exhibition of paintings a couple of years ago and it was a very different story, a terrifying experience of exposing myself, feeling like a fraud and, following the financial failure of the show, finding my confidence shattered to the extent that I didn't pick up a paintbrush again until three weeks ago. With the benefit of rational hindsight perhaps an exhibition of homoerotic Pop Art with implicitly kinky undertones wasn't exactly going to be a blockbusting sell-out in a small rural village in North Somerset - but trying telling that to the little 'suffering artist' inside whimpering "Nobody loves me!" Of course in this age of the web, social media and instant feedback that potential for having your fragile little creative self bruised and battered is magnified and accelerated to an alarming extent - a cursory glance of YouTube, fills me with admiration for the skill and resilience of teenagers, now equipped with the same levels of technology that produced Dark Side of the Moon on their bedroom PC, who upload their first songs complete with home-made videos to be instantly greeted by a torrent of "LMFAO. Epic FAIL!!!!1111!!" comments and similarly articulate criticism, yet are able to shrug it off and soldier on to produce better and better work. It really puts my wafer thin skin into perspective.
The next hurdle/neurosis/excuse is the issue of doubting that I have anything interesting to say. I'm full of envy for those who have found themselves a niche on their blogs, those who comment wryly, wittily, intelligently and with fierce passion on life, culture, politics and the media, people like, to name two recent and welcome discoveries, Anton Vowl and Army of Dave whose blogs have, in the last couple of weeks, become as much part of my morning ritual as an espresso and a fag. Part of the problem for me, you see, is lack of focus, my mind flits from subject to subject like a hummingbird with Attention Deficit Disorder, bouncing from high-brow to low-brow, from the fantastical to the mundane and back again. For example, a peek at the headings of my mental agenda this morning would have revealed Aubergine Plant (Why is it dying?), Life on board 19th Century Whaling Ships, Dexter Season 2, Goat's Cheese (Calories in.), Daily Mail (Idiocy of), Junk Mail, Robert Rauschenburg's White Paintings, The Unthanks, and Socks. And that was before I'd had my toast. Of course access to the Internet doesn't help, once, in the days when my magpie curiosity could only be satisfied by whatever books happened to be on the shelf, such subjects would have knocked around for a bit, questions would have remained unanswered and finally a level of prioritisation would have occurred and something useful might have come out of that strange little torrent of brainspasms, but now that I can pretty much get a half decent answer to any question my fevered mind can come up with in the click of a mouse, my cranium is full of an overly rich sloshy thoughtsoup of opinions, facts and figures before my bodily functions are fully conscious.
So what the hell do I write about? In the past I've tried writing about: 1) Giving up Smoking - I didn't. 2) Reviewing every episode of Doctor Who in order - got halfway into the first episode and realised that as an idea it was both mad and dull (not to mention the potential for attracting hate mail for saying how unrelentingly grim and uninteresting I find a certain poll winning Peter Davison story) and 3) The sadly unfinished travelogue below. So going on past experience the focussed one-subject commentary is clearly beyond me. Perhaps I just have to accept that I haven't got the mental discipline to stick to one subject and accept that this blog will just be a series of random blurts offering nothing more useful or meaningful than a window into my strange little world. Who knows? - perhaps there are people out there who have equal interest in goat related dairy produce and bleak Northumbrian minimalist folk music (actually that particular combination doesn't sound that unlikely now that I come to type it).
So there we are - excuses out of the way and I'm back in the saddle. From now on my navel shall remain unexamined and I shall turn my attention to the big topics like aubergine horticulture, tv serial killers, art, life and many subjects in between. I was going to pen a couple of paragraphs about displacement activities, but I've suddenly noticed that the sock drawer needs sorting out and the throws on the lounge sofa won't straighten themselves out, oh and I really do need to find out who apart from Rod Steiger was in the film of The Illustrated Man.