Who amongst us has not enjoyed strapping explosives to the rails of the local transport system, leading the detonating wires back to a hillside, and then calmly turning the handle just as the 5:32 Express roared over the viaduct. For myself, I like nothing more than this and a warm dinner to follow – cooked if possible over the flames of the sleeping carriages.
Of course you can only do this sort of thing a half-dozen times before you get something of a reputation. That, and you run out of viaducts. You need to do something different for a thrill. This is where writing vicious little pieces for the internet comes in handy. You may choose social media memes and posts, savage websites, or…and this is the one I like…a daily web column.
You can be as cheerful bright, kindly, vitriolic, cynical, or vague as you like. You are without an editor, but are honour-bound to perform that function before you publish. And as editor/publisher you can as readily bin your material as you can broadcast it. Therein lies the salvation of the sanity.
I regularly write what you don’t read. It is sometimes maudlin, sometimes horrific. Sometimes very funny. The pieces that make their way to the billboard are good, but the tatters in the bin can sometimes be better. They are never discarded for being boring – rather they are suppressed for being hurtful. Oddly enough, I do consider the emotions of others and spare them if it can be decently done.
It was not always so. I have published and been damned before and felt bad for it. No-one died from my wit but no happiness sprang from it, either. So now I make it a habit to write scathingly salty criticisms and biting little essays and send them to the trash. I can vent steam without scalding the thin-skinned.
One vital precaution: I always empty the electronic trash and make sure no-one paws through it. In the old days of crumpled paper letters left unattended, neglect of this simple precaution cost me dearly. I’ve learned.