We Are Not a Muse

There’s only so much you can do as a writer to make things happen. Some days all you can do is sit with pen and paper and wait for the Muse to show up. You write a sentence or two, sigh, gaze out of the window, look back at the paper, try not to feel completely useless and rack your brains for something that will bring inspiration. Should you read something? Go for a walk? That sometimes helps…but in the end all you do is check your phone for the zillionth time and give a deep sigh at the absence of anything helpful.

Still, I can take some comfort from the news that Johnson is in deep trouble. For all his allies try to smooth it over, it’s not going away; the BBC are sticking by their story about the bodies, presumably because they believe their source is more reliable than Downing Street. It’s reassuring to know that the BBC can still hold the government to account and have not been entirely weakened by the revolving-door system of journalists taking positions as government advisers. John Humphrys must be doing his nut; the rottweiler of the Today programme must be blenching at this cosy relationship.

Speaking of Humphrys, he did his last stint on Mastermind last night, a job he’s held for an astonishing 18 years. It must be difficult to read the questions fluently and quickly without tripping over your words, and I often wonder who writes them; I guess they must have specialist writers for each subject. Last night was the final, in which we got to find out about the contestants’ backgrounds; two of them admitted to being highly competitive including one woman who had been voted off The Weakest Link a few years ago and wanted to expunge that shameful memory; she regularly cycles 100 miles a day and never lets her children win at games. The other was a company directer who runs marathons in the Arctic. Now I may be the idlest of couch potatoes but such competitiveness ain’t healthy – if only because you suffer so much when you lose. Neither of these people won, and the woman looked utterly devastated. The best attitude is to look on it as a fun challenge and not mind so much if someone else wins.

So farewell then, John Humphrys, and thank you for reading the questions so fluently and presiding so benevolently over the Black Chair. Not so Jeremy Paxman; though I enjoy his slightly waspish avuncularity and occasional bursts of admiration for contestants’ cleverness, it wasn’t so clever of him to say, as he did the other day, that any fool can read the news. It just caused me to think that if that’s the case, any fool can read out University Challenge questions.

Not cool, Jeremy.

Kirk out

6 thoughts on “We Are Not a Muse

  1. I find highly competitive people rather self-centred and tiresome, but that’s probably because I’ve never been competitive myself: it just seems like far too much effort. Also, if a woman regularly cycles 100 miles a day, it begs the question of how she finds the time for children? I enjoyed seeing Paxo squirming somewhat in the chair of Have I Got News For you: they certainly had the measure of him! Cheers, Jon.

  2. I feel that we have two halves of a solution which is unfortunately not in the same person. I get opportunities and you craft writing more effectively. That competitive woman on ‘Mastermind’ – yes, competing against your own children is not good but her cycling should have provided her with the opportunity for her memory to become established, so I’m gonna say yeah, go for a walk. It could happen then.

  3. I met Paxman once. (Briefly) He is very tall, holds himself erect, looks you directly in the eyes, and exudes confidence. I don’t think I ever met anyone else who was so self-assured. I am expecting Clive Myrie to do a good job as presenter of Mastermind though.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Interesting to hear your view of Paxton. I don’t know anything about Clive Myrie so I’ll have to wait and see

      1. As well as reading the news, Clive has presented quite a few extensive location reports on News 24. He has a good style, so should relax the contestants. I always preferred Magnus though.
        Best wishes, Pete.

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