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Joyful incoherence

It has been a strange few weeks.

I have not written much on this blog this month, partly because there are a couple of sad and confusing topics which I cannot yet bring myself to cover here even though I sort of want to, and also (more mundanely) because I have been trying to finish my ‘avid theatre-goer in COVID times’ essay. I have been trying to get this finished for months –  during which time I have of course kept watching more things which I wanted to incorporate.

On and on it went. Procrastination, more writing, procrastination, editing, additions, avoidance, more editing – hopeless.

However, yesterday, serendipitously on the actual one-year anniversary of UK theatres being forced to close as the country prepared for lockdown #1, I managed to load it up onto this very site here.  

And Tweet about it on the best possible day to do so. Genius. It is, of course, too long. I realised this last weekend and tried valiantly to shorten it. I chopped unnecessary bits out, then wrote extra bits. I took out all the silly personal references. I re-read it and decided it was pompous, uninformed and actually rather incoherent in places. And boring. So I restructured it so there was a better narrative flow (there, you see, I can do pompous alright), re-wrote it more in my own voice (whatever that actually is) and gently took the piss out of myself in places (yeah, that’s my own voice!). So most of the silly personal references were back in. But it seemed to read a little better, so I did one more revision. Same number of words I had started with. Sigh. And no-one will read it anyway, will they?

With a lighter feel, especially as my feverish Twitterings yesterday evening had brought at least 10 people to this website (hahahaha – ten!), I today turned to the job of writing a short history of my old rowing club. They only want a few paragraphs for their website at present – surely I can rustle that up? No doubt it will be several pages of rambling nonsense but I will be ruthless this time – again, hahahaha. After at least half an hour of serious web-surfing and fervid note-taking, I started looking at that Twitter bird again. Counting the page impressions – that way madness surely lies…

So it was that I chanced upon a promotional Tweet for Dermot O’Leary’s podcast series People, Just People. And joy of joys, there was a ridiculously funny trailer for the latest edition with Andrew Scott and Olivia Colman which I watched several times before having some lunch.

Back at my desk, I forced myself to scribble another page of rowing club history notes (my current notebook has quite small pages), then I set off on my walk as the sun came out. I listened to Newscast first – I am a creature of habit after all. And then the O’Leary podcast*. 

By this time I was in Richmond Park and although the weather was nice now, there were not many people around. Which was just as well, because here was one of those occasions when I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

These may be one of the best broadcasters and two of the finest actors of our current times, but honestly, the whole hour was just gloriously incoherent. At one stage, Dermot used the phrase ‘this is like herding cats’ (one of my former colleagues used this expression all the time, which made me smile even wider with nostalgia), and raucous laughter drowned out the ends of any sentences which were in danger of actually being finished.

Gin-in-a-tin from M&S probably featured more heavily than it should have done, but was a wonderful Fleabag reminiscence for all concerned. I am honestly none the wiser about anything they may have been discussing, but who cares? In these isolated times it was just joyful to hear people having a laugh together. Tears streamed in the happy breeze.

It was thus with a light heart and an only-ever-so-slightly-still-teary eye that I sat down for my evening’s 10 pages of self-improvement reading. I’m reading Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera, and very much enjoying it, but laugh-out-loud it generally is not – particularly the couple of pages I started with detailing horrendous slaughter and harrowing brutality. 

And now I’m off to watch a documentary about the murderous Rose West. Cheery stuff.

This all makes me think, as ever, about the importance of humour and lightness – the incongruity of a tipsy luvvie exchange wedged between my literary efforts, a serious news discussion and the atrocities of Empire.

Keeps me sane.

Or does it….?

‘Descends into self-incoherence’

*Available on Audible





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