Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lets try again

Right. Same blog, same guy, new start. Now I've got a pretty banner and a Twitter feed and a little bit to say I hope. The big idea this time is to try and write while on my half hour train journey home from work each day. It'll be great: the discipline of the journalist. It has to be quick, pithy, readable and out to press before I have to unfold my bike and get off the painted crate that's propelling me home. No, that's not what my view from the train actually looks like, but this is meant to be fertile ground after all. [Editor's note: there have been gratuitous layout changes since this post was published!]

I always thought columnists had the best life. Consider it. You knock out a few words in your own voice about subjects you love or hate, without criticism or review, preferably in the bath or in a shed next the to the rose bush you can totter outside to carefully cultivate when the mood arises, or sitting in a Caribbean rock pool with sea horses tickling your feet as they skip amongst the corals. You can syndicate your work in periodicals all over the world, hire an agent, get beefy advances and after ten years get a book deal and be nostalgic over your own utterances. Not bad. I can prove it's great as some of my favourite books are collections from columnists - a clear favourite being Ron Ferguson's commentary on Scotland and its religions: presbyterianism and football. The best by far though happens - and I really am very proud of this - to be in the family. My grandmother's maiden name was Nolan, and she was a cousin of Brian O'Nolan, who wrote under the pseudonym of Flann O'Brien, who wrote as the wildly fantastic character of Myles Na Gopaleen, poly-character of polymaths and the picturesque - which takes some saying - and the source of an epic column that ran for 40 years in the Irish Times of truly Joyce-like genius - though the author would squirm at the comparison, regular as he was at lampooning the master - and which is legend throughout Ireland. Further explication of this awe inspiring reference is for another journey (not that I'm on a train at the moment, but that's neither here nor there). One thing though - my second uncle twice removed or so, Brian, Flann, Myles, would write occasional columns as if in conversation with others awaiting some form of Dublin public transport. They always ended abruptly, having set out the absurd. Begob there's me bus. Cheers!

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