What Will The Neighbours Say?

What will the kids at school say?

What will my employer say?

What will the press say?

Who knows? Because when you get to certain stage of your life you are not overlooked by schoolmates, neighbours, employers or the media. You are just there by your own, and the only opinion you need to canvas is your own. It’s a sad, frightening, thrilling, and uplifting thing.

‘Twas not always thus. As a child I suffered under the lash of schoolmate’s disapproval – and it coloured my attitude to what I did outside of school. If you can imagine a constant feeling that you were being watched by the phantoms of the schoolyard, you can get some of the feeling. It lasted for years after my schooling ended and only yielded to the next stage of life – employment.

Well, I was self-employed for 40 years, and the feeling of being overlooked was transferred to the professional board that controlled our state’s dentists. The only run-in I ever had with them was on the subject of a signboard, so that was a fortunate 40 years.

Then another 8 years of paid work in a different trade – with an actual employer. And while the first year was spent in an agony of apprehension, most of the next seven saw an increasing indifference upon my part. Not to the work – I was conscientious and diligent – but eventually I stopped looking to the management for a pat on the head. I have two paws and I can pat myself…

Our neighbours are fine people – I suppose. They may be lizards dressed in human skins, for all I know. We keep out of each other’s way and the only thing that is shared is cooking odours. Garlic Week can be a trial.

As far as the press goes, I make my own press – you are reading it right now. If you keep reading there will be exposés and photographs of topless beach parties – so make sure you stay tuned.

 

 

Advertisements

” Lookin’ For A Good Time, Big Boy…? “

Yeah, I am. And I have learned to be damned careful where I look.

Recently a friend on Facebook shared a small essay about doing things for fun – as opposed to doing them for money. My mind, being what it is, instantly linked up the concept to the title and it all went downhill from there. But I thoroughly agree with the original essay – there is a limited time and a place for monetization of our lives – and an increasing pressure to judge everything we do by the standards of the cashbook and journal. But there is an equal time and place for it all to be done for love.

We stand in danger of becoming Jacob Marley in our spare time.

These essays I write are for fun – I find them so, even if you may not. I do not expect to be paid for them, as payment comes as soon as the words hit the screen. It is in the form of pleasure and satisfaction…and I do not need to do double-entry bookkeeping to appreciate that.

I have had hobbies that earned money – and I pursued them diligently enough for years. In the end the money that they brought has evaporated, as all money does, and the only thing  left is a sense of satisfaction or otherwise when I think back on the times spent sewing, developing, shooting, drawing, or whatever. I could equally have this final pleasure if no money had been sought. Indeed, it may have given me more time to seek pleasure, rather than profit.

Well, I learned. I now build model aircraft, take photos, and write to please me. I share some of this and if you are pleased as well, good times are rolling. But they do not need to roll with an on-line shop, etsy, or business model. They have other wheels to run on.

The Whippersnapper

I use this in my title to alert a reader of this column to the fact that I read his column as well. He’s recently mentioned the word and lamented that it is not used any more. I have been thinking about that and agree with him. But there’s nothing to stop us – he and I – from inventing new phrases that can be just as effective.

Do we wish to suggest that someone is shallow, annoying, and attention-seeking? Would we like to include overtones of callow and valueless behaviour? Would we like to call someone a whippersnapper?

Well, we’ll try one of these:

a. ” A Beardless Youth “. Sounds classical and classy. Particularly effective if the target person happens to be female.

b. ” An Ungracious Lout “. If we, in our turn, look like unmade beds, it gives added piquancy to this.

c. ” An Exquisite “. No-one really knows what this means but it sounds brittle and slimy  at the same time – a considerable feat.

d. ” A Social Climber “. This suggests that the person is a snob but that is only one of the options. People can climb down as well as up…

e. ” A Brazen Vessel “. A bit more biblical, but still suggesting more valueless noise and shallow capacity.

The good thing about using these phrases is that while they are not obscene, they are memorable. We must use them sparingly, and pronounce them in a slow, clear manner. They will stick better than wax* to a blanket.

*  Wax is not the word I wanted to use but this is a family column.

 

 

What Font Are You?

I have a peculiar habit to confess. I go to book stores and look at things in the Graphic Designer section. Yet, I am not a graphic designer. Those of you who look at the heading images of this and other columns I write have discovered this a long time ago. I can cut and paste and assemble a billboard, but my taste in colours and letters is woeful.

Yet, there are people in the world who can do this design thing well. Their pages are a pleasure to look at – if sometimes a little painful to read – and they can make a living doing this for clients as well as themselves. Hats off to them.

But back to the fonts. You’ll have some in your computer or tablet – particularly if you’ve got a writing app or a photo-editing one. There is a standard Adobe and Apple font book with dozens of variations on the Roman letters and Arabic numbers that are our standard English symbols. You can buy the use of extra fonts and sometimes get them as downloads from directories. I’ve got Retro Font and  Script Font books that allow me dozens more choices. Sometimes the computer doesn’t like them and refuses to use them, but mostly it is clear sailing.

Does a favourite font tell us something about you? Can it tell you something you had not acknowledged? Deep psychological questions, indeed. You’ll have to dredge your own mental pond – I’ll show you my favourites:

You can make your judgements accordingly. I do use whatever the books or computer font store might suggest for specialized signs. There are enough variants that you can letter out decals for model airplanes in period style and make lots of faux-historical images.

Reaching Out To Your Audience

As a weblog column writer I get a number of return contacts; spam, emails from people who admire one or other of the posts, and offers to help me increase my popularity with my readers. I do inspect each new contact, and have actually added one weblog column to my daily reading as a result of a comment, but by and large that is it.

It is not that I do not want to increase the ” traffic ” of my columns – it is just that I do not want to be writing or dancing for the audience on their terms. If that were the case I would take up Instagramming or Twittering or Facebooking on a serious basis and fire off memes like machine-gun bullets. It may sound selfish, but I write my own thoughts here…and I am happy to have you read them whenever you’ve a mind to. I can’t write yours – I am not you. And I know some of you are not you, either.

When I try to entertain I fail about as many times as I succeed – that is the fate of most Catskill comedians. The best I can hope for is that you read through to the end of any particular column – in some cases to see if I mention your name, Bill – and do not send in a complaint to your ISP about it. If you laugh or ponder it is a bonus. I will already have done so while writing it.

I do want your readership, and appreciate the likes and replies – at least the ones that do not want me to buy Viagra in an online Russian casino. If some days are less enlightening, be patient – eventually a zeppelin will crash outside the front door and I have a camera ready. In the meantime reflect that all of our lives are somewhat similar, and what happens here in Perth also happens where you live…with the possible exception of the venomous snakes coursing through the local hospital car park. We actually do have that as a real thing here on the south side of the river and it pays to look carefully when you get out of the car. Not all humorous Australian memes are just exaggerated jokes – not in the springtime.

Note: These are not kindly snakes…Google Dugite.

It’s Not A Blog…

It’s a weblog column. Something that comes out regularly and has a complete set of thoughts in it. My thoughts.

It is not a poem, though there have been times when I’ve written it in poetry.

It’s not a novel. Nothing novel at all. Indeed, there are some very old things in it.

It’s not a connected story – it bounces around as new things are discovered. People say things in the street that eventually become columns here. Wait until you read ” Hey! Bring back my purse! Police! Police! “. ( Good purse but there was nothing of much value in there. Still, it goes with my tan shoes.)

It’s not a rant. One of my columns is a commercial one advertising for a shop and the IT specialist who set it up characterized it in the sidebar as a ” rant “. That actually offends me, but since they do nothing to remedy the situation I merely raise my rates for the jobs I am asked to do. The extra money assuages my injured soul.

So what is it? This one’s a daily essay based upon observation and humour. One of the others is a similar thing devoted to photographic matters – a third revolves around scale models and toys of all sorts. I am happily long retired from my first profession and need not write about teeth and jaws.

Who are my readers? You, for one. And many more, though I cannot exactly figure out how many are constant. I suspect many of the ones that notify me that they like a certain post are using their own weblogs as commercial enterprises and may have automatic programs to throw out electronic grappling hooks. I don’t mind – I do read their connection emails  at least once and have actually added four of them to my daily reading. A couple more seem to have dried up – I mourn that as they had interesting things to read.

Why do I write these columns?

a. It lets me speak freely. That’s not possible on many social media platforms.

b. It lets me crystallize thoughts and memories. If I remember it, I write it, and vice versa. At 70, any mental agility is welcome.

c. I can debunk the myths I have invented for myself and finally be a plain person. That’s hard – even the Amish have to work like devils to be angelic. I need to look at me, and reading what I write helps me to do it. Unfortunately I find others looking over my shoulder and I am aware that no admission ever really vanishes from the internet. But as long as the authorities do not find out about the incident with the chicken necks and the tax inspector I should be fine.

d. It lets me play a part that real life would condemn. The Backstabbers Guild of Australia is a wonderful haven of vile behaviour. The BGA doesn’t have a Speaker of the Senate or a Pauline, but we do have horrid practices nevertheless.

 

What Do You Do When A Writing Deadline Approaches?

You either barricade yourself behind a wall of completed work…or you retreat into excuses – both are perfectly valid.

The first means that you have not disappointed your readers – at least not any more than you normally do. If your entire readership is composed of disappointed people, you have my sympathy.

But by fulfilling your obligations or promises, you only make a stick for your own back. Do good and they’ll expect it of you all the time. Keep topping yourself and one day you’ll be over the top.

On the other hand, if you retreat into whiney excuses for non-performance people will be disappointed in you…oh, wait…they were disappointed in the first example as well…

Have you thought of getting a better set of readers? People who are less judgemental? Might be a thought…

But anyway, let them down occasionally and they will not be on your ass so hard each day. This will give you time to gather new material for a glorious comeback. Because that is the real secret – if you cannot break a writing block you need to go out and find something that breaks it for you. It can be any person, event, place, or experience that makes you mad, sad, glad, or bad. If you are sweating internally, you have a live topic. And you can make it go for ever so long as the powerhouse for your work.

As you explore it and draw from it, the readership will respond. Some will agree, some will not, and some will be disappointed. That is the best indication that you are back in the groove. Go on – give ‘em what they don’t want. They’ll love ya for it.