Back to work, then

Well, having been back from my “short break” for almost a week, I suppose I should start posting again.

My time away was time to reflect. Because, with the best will in the world, the painful truth is that ideas which I used to take for granted no longer stand up.

Maybe that’s the problem, most of us never do revisit these things, or take a step back and examine them objectively. I have, and now wonder how I could ever believe them.

One problem locally is that if you come into contact with people who agitate over one issue, they’ll be the same people who agitate over others. So they become an insular little group who assume that if you think A then you also think B, C …. and right through to X,Y and Z, without once examining any of the issues on their own merits.

A little clique, no different to the ones who control all decisions over certain political issues, and do it, not in recognisable civic groupings which anyone can join but in the golf club bar, or church, or masonic hall, or just drinks parties in someone’s home supposedly to celebrate something totally unrelated.

Networking would be the polite term. There are much ruder ones.

So, mooching around Edinburgh just before the Fringe got going was a pleasant change. A little under a week surrounded by people who were, in the main, quite sane, and none of whom appeared to be married to their cousins. Some proper art, some museums, shops, restaurants and bars staffed by people who wanted to help (rather than moody adolescents or smug “take it or leave it” merchants who knew you couldn’t go anywhere else). I think Edinburgh has the hang of this tourist thing, unlike the Isle of Man.

On the other hand, you know the UK economy is really screwed when even the begging is outsourced.

I kid you not. As I have family there, I’ve known Edinburgh all my life and was well used to the “jakies” who begged for coins from tourists. Not any more.

All the good pitches were taken by foreign beggars with exactly the same quasi-religious victim pitch I’ve seen East European gypsies make in Hungary and Romania. Even the bloke we bought a Big Issue from turned out to be Romanian. The local bums don’t have a look-in – totally outclassed by professionals who’ve really thought their act through ….. if only the fringe’s street performers and their sad, cliched acts could get such a kicking from similar new competition.

No, seriously though, a pleasant few days with time to think. Then it was back to the office last Thursday morning to pick up exactly where I left off, and count the minutes down to Friday night and a peaceful weekend catching up on my sleep and dreaming of Edinburgh…

…except that it wasn’t peaceful. In fact, the reason I didn’t post over the weekend is that it was such a blur of creative effort, from which I’m still recovering at work (where feigning labour while filtering out the inane is second nature to me).

Firstly, I came home from holiday to find that a book I’d promised to review had finally arrived – the morning after we left. Not just any book, mind you, but a philosophy professor’s first novel, which, for reasons to complicated to go into, the author only sent to one of my editors, who trusted me to review it. So, the thing had to be read by Friday night, then written about by Sunday. And to further complicate matters, my other editor e-mailed – also the day after we left – to say his publication was, as you might politely put it, “re-grouping” after a fall out amongst the publishers. An entirely new publication is to replace it, so from now on I have half the space for the column I’ve written for over a decade, but carte blanche to write on contemporary issues only elsewhere. Oh, and the deadline is next Friday.


But somewhere amongst all this I do intend following the sage (if drunken) advice Francis Bacon once gave to Jeff Bernard, that the only way to survive life is to regard very, very nearly everything as totally unimportant.

Enough for now. A single malt awaits.

If you did miss me, I’ll take that as a compliment. But if you want more rubbish, you’ll still have to wait for the weekend.


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