Anyone out there?
Invisibility. What the writer dreads more than the loss of words itself.
But right now, at this precise moment of 9.48 p.m on a Tuesday night in September, invisibility lives on the cusp of comfort and intrigue. This is a brand new blog. No one follows it. No one has been asked to follow it. I am writing something, but I’m not planning to send this around. No one will read it, unless they do. It is a matter of placing thoughts tantalisingly out there like faded old underwear on a washing line, and then going to bed and not thinking about it again.
In theory, I could write whatever I wanted. I could set down what I really think, those bleak thoughts that entangle themselves into my head in the darkest hour before dawn. I could expose my vulnerabilities, every one of them, and know with near certainty that no one will ever see them. I could write about that time I hid from the police behind a hedge in Hampshire, ran from a fight in Derby Road, or moved my golf ball six inches out of a hole that made the next shot nigh on impossible. And worse, because the worst of any of us is bad enough for a prison sentence. Writing a blog that no one has any reason to see is like sunbathing face up in the nude on the flat roof of your apartment block. Nobody but a passing helicopter pilot might see it, but even they probably wouldn’t know who you were, care where you lived or think about it any more than the wry chuckle they emit as they fly on towards Battersea.
Deep down, I don’t want to ask the question. I don’t want to send that appealing email round my contact list explaining with false modesty that I am starting a blog, and would they like to follow it. It kind of makes an assumption that I have something important to say. I don’t. But, equally, I just don’t want to shut up either. Writing things, just like painting, sculpting, pruning, cooking or styling things, always leaves you vulnerable to being criticised or, worse still, ignored. And no one seems to understand that silence is far, far more brutal than being slated. To be slated, you have to matter. To be disregarded, well, you can work it out. Handing sheets of paper to people saying that, if they could bear to read it, you would love to know what they thought; and how six weeks later they give it tamely back apologising that they have been just too busy, but it looks brilliant. Too busy to read something that would take them less time than the ten o’clock news. Of course.
Of course, I don’t really want to write about any of that stuff. I just want to talk about getting old disgracefully, trying new things, fighting off the years. About sheds and sciatica, bats and bee hives, wind and whatever. I want to be funny, and make people laugh, because it makes them happy and it gets me noticed. But it’s cooler to start by being unattainable, or at least my Granny told me it was, obviously without using the word ‘cool’.
So this is a little note to me and the helicopter pilot. Me, because only I know where it is. And the helicopter pilot because all of us end up one day on a website that we weren’t looking for, and tarry there for an instant or two and wonder what is going on.
You could get used to it.