When I’m in a writing frame of mind, in the minutes before I actually sit down at my computer desk everything feeds into the words that will follow.
My writing mind is a blender, and everything I see, hear, touch, smell and even taste is thrown into that perspex and steel Satanic mill.
Old thoughts and new refections, yesterday’s complications and this morning’s fresh sensations all whirr around together … faster and faster.
But blenders crush, whip and lacerate, and every ingredient is soon caught up in the tornado effect generated by the violently spinning stainless steel blades. Each separate element is barbarically shredded and stripped of its individuality as it combines with all the others in one spineless, colourful gloop that gathers beneath the blades and is pushed up around the sides of the appliance.
To be consumed.
I’m a pottering and a pondering as I clean up last night’s debris in the kitchen and prepare my cereal, toast and coffee.
The Sunday supplements are always there, begging to be picked up in order to put off the writing. Even though I can’t wait to get started …
This morning, just before my coffee I picked up an article on Taylor Swift. Now I cannot name a Taylor Swift song, just have some half-formed ideas of songs snarking at old boyfriends, her vast army of swooning gal pals, often famous too, and presenting herself as some kind of post-feminist power girl. Or something. And she’s in Dublin soon.
Here it all was in one easily digestible article, so I could first of all see if I could give enough of a f### about said Taylor to get beyond the first paragraphs.
The article, in the Irish Times’ Ticket magazine, by a Jennifer Gannon, held my attention, and as well as analysing her music, of course, I read about all sorts of choreographed feuds with the likes of Kanye West and Katy Perry (wasn’t she married to Russell Whatsis-Booky-Wook-name … yes, Brand?), and her skilful use of social media to bypass the usual press and PR shiteology.
So far, so narcissistic. Gannon talked about Swift’s obsession with her image, and despite all the wealth and the fame, how she still persists in painting herself as some kind of victim, always being treated unfairly by certain people.
My old smiling French pal Joel years ago told me one of the few phrases he remembered from his English classes as a child was: “My tailor is rich”
This Taylor certainly is anyway, and it seems her revenge on those who would offend her is Swift too!
It all sounds so typical, self-obsessed selfie generation stuff, but unbecoming, Gannon suggests, in a now 28-year-old superstar.
And of course I thought of my own teenage daughter.
Feuds and manufactured conflicts? So many things going for her, and still the victim thing? Selfies and self-consciousness beyond measure and so easily wounded but bewilderingly oblivious to the wounds she inflicts on family and other outsiders? As so many teenagers are.
Actually this is the last post in which I can refer to my daughter, and proper order.
She read one of my posts online last week, and then she read a few others. And she was incandescent.
No use talking the nuanced stuff about the articles not being about her, but about my efforts at understanding her and my failures in properly parenting her.
Why should she have to be the one to work at getting these nuances? She’s 14 and I’m not.
No- in her eyes I had betrayed her.
Writers, at any level, will recognise this dilemma of writing about people close to them. At worst, you cannibalise their lives and callously disregard their feelings. In the name of honesty and art. A strange kind of circumscribed honesty and what can we say about whether it is art or not?
More usually, like me, either through squeamishness, or wishy-washy less than honest “consideration” you couch your observations and revelations in ways that plop down flatly between the twin stools of honesty and discretion. Both in terms of my daughter and myself.
And it is neither truly honest nor properly discrete.
So far it’s been easy enough to write about our son, and his footballing endeavours. Enough meat and drink without getting into vendettas or information that would betray any confidences.
As well as his sporting prowess, I have also however, referenced, I hope discretely, thoughts around his difficulties fitting in during his first year in secondary school. And our worries around that.
Lots of acquaintances but no one friend, the one I think many of us wished for when we were young. The one who would always be there for us, who knew the good and the not so good of us but had our back anyway.
He is an individual, our boy, and another part of me, while wishing he would put himself out more and risk the possible rejection of calling on possible summer play-mates, also admires his stoic get up, get out and get on with it quiet solidity.
He trains and plays his football with enthusiasm bordering on obsession.
Again, more immediate stuff that has fed directly into this piece.
I had also read India Knight’s column in yesterday’s Sunday Times magazine. I really like her column and seek it out.
She was writing about a woman, Claire Nelson, and how she had survived a horrendous accident hiking in the Colorado desert.
She had fallen on a boulder and shattered her pelvis. She couldn’t move and lay there for days, even drinking her own urine to survive until friends raised the alarm and rescue services spotted the flag she had made.
The ultimate theme of the piece was that old-fashioned idea of the stuff upper lip, and the value of stoicism, getting on with things. The value of endurance.
I think that is what I admire so much, among so many things, about our boy, that he is a true stoic. He gets on with things. Channels his energies into what he loves, and keeps on keeping on. Doesn’t let this lack of a much-wanted buddy stop him in his tracks.
He is grateful for the good things in his life, and it really doesn’t take much to please him.
Her is no saint and boy is he stubborn, but we would love him to find that bestie, or at least regular pal who will appreciate him for all the things we love and admire him for. We fret over it.
But, hey, isn’t all that any parent would wish for their child? That they be happy and appreciated for what they are.
Even Mr and Mrs Swift.
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