Oh Wow. A Whole Decade

I had a little notification in the corner of my page this morning.   ‘That’s odd,’ I thought, as I’m usually told of comments and followers via email and I had just checked my inbox.  I clicked on it and it informed me that it was TEN YEARS AGO TODAY!!! that I started this blog.  I won’t bore you with the details as regular readers have heard it all many times before, suffice it to say that Hanif Kureishi was partly responsible for setting me off on this path.  I suppose I really ought to do something deep and retrospective, like picking out my favourite posts or summarising my journey or selecting the best comments, but the very idea fills me with a reluctance so deep that I can barely move my fingers across the keyboard; so I shall just say Happy Anniversary to lizardyoga’s weblog and a particular shout-out to those readers who have been with me since the beginning.

Thinking about it, the last decade has seen my transition from teacher/part time writer to full-time author and performing poet, which is quite a big deal.  I was updating my CV the other week and it was quite startling how many things I’ve done, from the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square to Leicester Riverside Festival to Left Unity’s national conference and Quaker Yearly Meeting to Sing for Water at Leicester Riverside Festival.  Publications include poems in Mslexia, blogging for the same and short stories in Everyday Fiction.

Maybe soon I’ll get it together and find some retrospective links.  But right now I’m getting ready to go to Wales which includes checking the car tyres (am I the only one who hates doing this?  I think I have a subconscious fear of blowing up one of the tyres.)

So if you’ve been a reader of this blog since May 2008, please drop me a comment and let me know how the last ten years have been for you.

Kirk out

Am I Itching? Am I Hell!

One of the useful things WordPress does is to tell you about anniversaries, and this morning a little anvil-shaped icon appeared in the corner of my screen.  At least, I think it was anvil-shaped, but as Mark has conclusively proved, I am rubbish at recognising icons.*  Anyway, it turned out to be an anniversary message so who knows – maybe it was meant to be a cake or a candle or a card or something.  I don’t know.  But it did shock me slightly to discover that it was seven years ago this very day that I started this blog.

Seven years!  Seven years is a significant period of time; in fact many people think our lives can be understood in periods of seven: infancy, childhood, adolescence/young adulthood, marriage and parenthood, settling down, finding your way/becoming responsible, middle age (around this time you tend to get a mid-life crisis) and so on.  As a rough guide it sort of works – which reminds me, I wonder if they’re still doing the ‘7-up’ series?  According to wikipedia they are: the last one came out in 2012.  Interesting.  I remember seeing it when I was teacher-training; since that was in 1980 I guess they would have been – hang on! – if they were seven in 1964 they’ll be the same age as me!!!  How come I never realised that?

Maybe I did realise it, and forgot.  I’m at that sort of age…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_Series

Anyway, back to the blog.  As I’ve told you before (you’re probably sick of hearing about it) Hanif Kureishi was the father of this blog, since it was he who suggested to me that I should start one.  I met him in Leicester library and instantly took his advice.  Initially I didn’t blog every day, but I soon got into the habit and now I blog around five times a week on average.

Over those seven years I’ve covered more topics than I can remember.  It started out being a blog about writing; but it soon occurred to me that as well as writing about writing I could practise my writing by writing about – well, anything that took my fancy.  So from home brewing to politics, from film reviews to gardening, from prose to poetry and from poetry to drama – and not forgetting the very pertinent category relating to my dear OH – I’ve covered quite a range.

And I’ve never regretted starting it.  Having a blog has enabled me to interact with other bloggers, to get comments on my stories and poems, and to get a residency on Mslexia’s very own blog!  Not too bad!

So a happy seven-year anniversary to all my readers and followers and a special thanks to those who’ve been with me since the beginning.  Why not drop me a line today?

Off now to see to the garden.

Kirk out

*I think it’s supposed to be a cup or chalice of some kind.  I’m still not sure

Happy Anniversary and Here’s Your Chance to Guest-Blog!

There was a funny little logo in the corner of my screen this morning, a bit like an anvil.  I’m particularly bad at identifying icons and diagrams, they all look like squiggles to me, so I clicked on it in a ferment of anticipation.  What could it be?  Had someone sent me a virtual present?  Was it a strange and possibly alien follower who had joined?

Not a bit of it.  The icon represented my six-year anniversary on this blog!  So happy anniversary to all my readers and a special shout-out to those who have been with me since the beginning.

I started – apparently – on May 16th 2008, at the instigation of Hanif Kureishi.  I was at a writing seminar with him at Leicester Library and I asked him what advice he would give to aspiring writers.  ‘Start a blog,’ he said.  Never one to hang around, I started the very next day.  At first I didn’t blog every day, but soon I made it a daily discipline, reasoning that if I wrote nothing else, at least I’d have published a couple of hundred words online.  Published: that word never loses its aura – I’ll never forget the first time I finished a post and clicked on the magic word.

‘Publish’.

Ah!

I didn’t get many readers at first.  Not surprising; but after a while I discovered how to link the blog to Facebook, and we were off.  Now I have getting on for a couple of hundred followers and I get lots of likes.  If people follow me I always take a look at their blog and will sometimes reblog some of their posts.  I have lots of poets, some philosophers and some who just talk whimsically about their daily lives.  It’s all interesting – and now here’s your chance to get your poetry or thoughts out to a wider audience.

Because, to celebrate the six-year anniversary of Lizardyoga’s weblog, I am offering a guest slot to followers.  If you would like to appear on this blog and do a guest spot, just comment below.  You can show off your poetry or pick a topic and theorise on it; you can talk about your favourite (or least favourite) TV programmes or rant about politics or whatever you like.

So drop me a line.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Kirk out

The Blogfather

Yes, as I told you before (if you’ve been paying attention) Hanif Kureishi can properly be called the father of this blog, since it was his idea.  We met in Leicester Library; I asked him for one piece of advice, and quick as a flash he said, ‘Start a blog.’  I didn’t hang around; and Lizardyoga’s weblog was born the very next day.

https://lizardyoga.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/meeting-hanif-kureshi/

I have to say I liked him better in the flesh than I did on TV.  The BBC’s profile did not show him in the best light; he appeared bad-tempered and defensive, particularly when asked about the direct way in which he had put his family members into his work.  He had left his wife and children; just walked out of the house – at least that was the way he told it – and then written in a very direct way about that experience.  And here’s the rub: this is a dilemma for all writers – at least those who are not Science Fiction authors or writers of preposterous romances – what do you do about the people in your life?  Do you just go ahead and put them in your novels, warts and all or, given that most disguises are easy to penetrate, do you disguise them?  Some writers don’t let it bother them: D H Lawrence didn’t, and lost friends as a result, but he seemed to regard it as an inevitable part of the process.  Kureishi, however, reacted to Alan Yentob’s questions as if he had no right to ask them; and I think this is a mistake.  Of course a work of art is what it is; stands alone and ought to be judged as such, blah blah blah, but to ignore the connection between it and a writer’s life is to leave out a vital part of the equation.  Anyway, judge for yourselves as it’s still on iplayer:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03vl8yz/The_Culture_Show_Hanif_Kureishi_Writers_Are_Trouble_A_Culture_Show_Special/

It is tempting to wonder how Jane Austen’s family reacted to the characters in her novels: who was the original for Mrs Elton?  Or Lady Catherine de Burgh?  This problem is something I wrestle with – one of the reasons I was unable to write as a child (I started a novel at the age of eight and couldn’t continue it) was that on some level I knew my parent’s marriage was in trouble and couldn’t bring myself to write about it.

I’m still struggling with this problem because, unlike Kureishi I don’t think it’s OK just to put people in your novels willy-nilly and disregard their feelings on the matter.  But neither is censoring your own life a very satisfactory answer.  So what do you do?

Answers on a postcard please…

Kirk out

I am the Anti-Proust: Thoughts on Memory Loss

Yes, I’ve decided that I am the anti-Proust.  Proust was known – is known – for remembering everything; I am known for forgetting everything.  Or I will be after everyone’s read this post.  I’m writing a memoir about forgetting, (if that isn’t the ultimate paradox I don’t know what is) and I’m trying to recall where and when it all began and what it is I’ve forgotten.  It’s tying my brain in knots and untying them at the same time – but! it is also closely linked to this blog.  Because it all started just a few months after I began this blog.

We kicked off here after I’d been to a writer’s workshop and met Hanif Kureishi, he of ‘Buddha of Suburbia’ fame.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanif_Kureishi

After his talk I asked him what advice he would give aspiring writers, and he said ‘start a blog’.  So you can blame him.  Yes, it’s all Hanif’s fault.  Here, in case you haven’t read it, is the original post:

https://lizardyoga.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3&action=edit

Anyway, thanks to the i-player there’s at least one thing I don’t need to try to remember, and that is what I’ve watched.  For a certain period at least, the blessed app will tell me what I’ve seen, how much of it I’ve seen, what other things like it I may or may not have seen, and what I might like to see but haven’t.  It’s a small relief, but a relief nonetheless.  So let us consult the blessed app and see what I’ve been watching this week.

Well, there was Room 101, in which Alistair MacGowan failed to impress and that woman off ‘Dragon’s Den’ was frankly bizarre:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01c9ng9/Room_101_Series_1_Episode_5/

I found Alistair MacGowan less than personable (he wanted to put children into Room 101) and I have never seen Dragon’s Den (that’s one thing I’m sure of) so I wasn’t quite ready for the explosion of gold lame and fake-black hair that is Hilary Devey.  Josh Groban (who he?) was perfectly pleasant but didn’t make much of an impression.  Frankly, I prefer seeing people I already know on R00m 101 but I suppose the failure is mine for not watching enough prime-time TV.

Apart from that I haven’t seen much, apart from an episode of ‘The Likely Lads’ and too much has already been said about that.

Pet.

Kirk out

It Ain’t Half Hot, Dad!

Many thanks for all the kind comments yesterday on Lizardyoga’s Weblog’s fifth anniversary – the occasion was useful as it gave me the opportunity to take a look back and see how I started off.  And lo!  I find it was on meeting Hanif Kureshi (author of ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’, ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ and, more recently, ‘My Son the Fanatic’) and on asking his advice as to what aspiring writers should do to succeed.  ‘Start a blog’ was his reply, so the very next day, that is what I did.  I see that originally I didn’t post quite every day, though I didn’t miss many, and that some of my first posts featured dialogues between a couple called Ladimir and Oestrogen, my take on Samuel Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_for_Godot

I’ve never got on with Beckett, not even in French, so I generally prefer ‘Waiting for God’ to ‘Waiting for Godot’ as I am a great fan of sitcom.  I was introduced to a new one last night, called The Wright way.  Written by Ben Elton and starring David Haig, it promised fair – but alas! going from The Thin Blue Line

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thin_Blue_Line_(TV_series)

to The Wright Way

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2649480/

is like going from ‘Dad’s Army’ to ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’.  They both have the same writer – or writers – but the first has its repeated tropes plus subtlety and something genuine, even touching, at its core.  The second just has its repeated tropes.  Ben Elton is a talented writer and has written some excellent comedy – most of it, I have to say, in conjunction with Richard Curtis, but still… he can twist his satirical pen like a knife in the wound and make us laugh till it hurts.  But this… well, it’s not bad sit-com exactly; it’s just a bit… unvaried and unsubtle.  The main character is a less unpleasant version of the CID bloke in ‘Thin Blue Line’ – less unpleasant because he is less powerful – whose conversation is basically one long rant.  The Mayor who works with him is a pompous idiot who speaks in inverted sentences – something which might be a lot funnier if done with more subtlety, but it wasn’t so it isn’t – and the hero’s two teenage daughters were disappointingly anodyne and one-dimensional.

Do I mean one-dimensional?  Can anything really be one-dimensional?  Let’s ask Mark:

‘Mark, can we really call anything one-dimensional?’

‘Yeah, if you want.’

So there you have it.

All this sit-com stuff made useful comparison with last night’s interview (this is the world on i-player, don’t forget) between David Frost (for it was he) and Stephen Fry:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01sg96h/Frost_on_Sketch_Shows/

This was on sketch comedy rather than sit-com, but still… though the comedy clips were well-worn the connections between them remain interesting and I will always take any chance to see the Two Ronnies wrestling with Four Candles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu9MptWyCB8

or the fish-slapping dance, or anything at all by Eric and Ernie.

But now I notice that another episode of ‘I Claudius’ is up, so if you’ll excuse me I must away to ancient Rome.

Kirk out

PS  That sounds like the first line of a poem:

I must away to ancient Rome

eternal city of the mind

goodbye – for all roads take me home

towards that country of the blind.

I’m actually working on that to make it into a sonnet.