Today’s prompt asks us “Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?”
There is one simple code that I try to live by, and that I hope I reflect in this blog. In one word, that code is:
I’m not suggesting that I believe I’m a saint, far from it! I’ve done things in my life that I’m not proud of, as I expect we all have done. I can’t put my hand on my heart and swear that I’ve never told a lie, either. Sometimes a little white lie may be the best way not to upset someone – ‘does my bum look big in this?’ springs to mind! But even in a trivial example like that there’s the potential to be hurtful, misleading or damaging if your answer doesn’t contain some truth and isn’t tactful, even if what you really want to say is ‘sorry, I can’t see as your bum is blocking out the light.’
What I mean by truth is the act of being true to yourself, whatever code of beliefs you live by. I know that sounds trite but it is nevertheless important for us to do it. I’m not a religious person but was brought up with Christian values of kindness, caring for and supporting people, being honest and truthful. I hope that’s what I do, though I wouldn’t judge myself on it – that is best decided by others. It is what I try to reflect in this blog. I started this to be honest about my periods of depression, in the hope that anyone who read my scribblings might find it a worthwhile use of their time. Apart from the few reblogs I’ve done, everything you’ll find here is written by me and is entirely reflective of me. All the opinions, the crappy jokes, comments about Days To Note, are from my heart and mind. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way, nor do I think I could write in any other way.
If we can’t be true to ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to believe in what we say or do?
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything in response to one of WordPress’ daily prompts, largely because many of them would have made me feel very self-centred in doing so. That sounds silly in my head, and looks even more stupid on screen, as that was the whole point of starting this blog: writing about my experiences. But I’d like to think I’ve broadened my scope since then. Today’s prompt can be found by clicking the link above, but to save you the trouble it reads:
“If you could have any author – living or dead – write your biography, who would you choose?”
This prompted two thoughts. Firstly, what an interesting idea, and secondly that it sounded familiar. Having looked back through my previous posts I realised why: I’ve already written ‘Saturday Night Clive’ about this in response to a prompt in July 2013. I re-read that post and decided that I’d make the same choice again. So, in the interests of being a good citizen and doing my bit for recycling, I’m reblogging it. I know it’s lazy but hey, they’re my words so I can choose to reuse them! I hope you like my choice of Ghostwriter:
Today’s prompt reads: ‘From a famous writer or celebrity, to a WordPress.com blogger or someone close to you — who would you like to be your biographer?’
Having thought about this for a nanosecond or two I realised that it wasn’t going to be easy to select my biographer. There is just so much choice. I don’t think it would be fair to impose that task on any fellow bloggers, although many of you write beautifully. I’m open to offers though!
So I turned my thoughts to the literary world and, as befits a graduate of English Literature – albeit one or two years ago now – I started by considering the greats: Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Archer and a few others, but there was a major problem with this. They don’t have biographies on their CVs. Oh, and they are all dead. Well, except Jeffrey Archer, but as far as great literature is concerned he may as well be. So I thought about writers who were still breathing, but none of them took my fancy. There are many whose writing I enjoy, but they are mostly novelists and I’m not sure they’d want to write a biography. Still, it’s worth a thought as at least they might create something worth reading about my life! Just imagine what Carl Hiaasen could do with it, or maybe Harlan Coben. But if I asked Jeffery Deaver he’d probably want me to be murdered before he’d take it on. The same goes for Patricia Cornwell. On second thoughts, I’m not that keen to be the subject of a book!
So how about current biographers? Lady Antonia Fraser is still alive, I think, but her biographies are about the long-since deceased, so maybe that’s not such a good idea. The same goes for many others who seem to prefer historical subjects, rather than current ones: writers such as David Starkey or Simon Sebag Montefiore, for example. Thinking about it, there are quite a few celebrities ‘writing’ books at the moment. Maybe John Sessions or Rob Brydon would do it? If nothing else, it would at least get them thinking about someone else and away from their usual state of self-satisfied smug gittery. Maybe I could find out who the ghost writers are for all of the ‘celebrity’ autobiographies? Do you seriously believe they all write every word themselves? Oh please! Or perhaps one of the unauthorised biography writers? The guy who wrote the one about Justin Bieber, perhaps. After all, he’s only three and they made a whole book about him!
But then a flash of inspiration hit me! I’d found my biographer! Someone whose writing I’ve long enjoyed and admired, whose broadcasting has entertained me for more years than either of us would probably care to remember – one of his programmes is the title for this piece. And we share the same name. It’s as if we were made for this! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you….Clive James (fanfares, trumpets etc).
You may never have read any of his work. Long renowned as a TV critic, as his most recent piece in the Daily Telegraph shows, he is a master of the English language and how to use it. And no, I won’t be making any jokes about the fact that this is remarkable, considering that he’s Australian. Amongst other things he has written several volumes of autobiography, starting with ‘Unreliable Memoirs,’ which I’ve always thought a great title. If you have a Kindle, Amazon UK are currently offering a combined set of his first three volumes for less than a fiver – bargain! I bumped into the great man once. Literally. We were approaching the corner by Covent Garden tube station from opposite directions and….wham! I’m not sure which of us was more pissed – I think it might have been him, by a milligram or two. A slurred, mumbled apology was all we managed. Still, it’s good to have a claim to fame, isn’t it!
I wonder if he’d be prepared to do it? It would be a challenge for him, no doubt about it. If only there was something interesting I could give him to work with…..
I haven’t posted for one of the daily prompts for a while – or anything else, come to that – but I was rather taken with the challenge in today’s, which reads:
Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes. GO!
As I’ve been fighting headaches and a migraine all week I haven’t listened to any music since last weekend, so I had to check on my iPod what that last song was. It turned out to be this:
As I’ve mentioned before I am a long time fan of Steve Earle, and this song comes from his first full-length studio album, Guitar Town, which was released in 1986. The third line of the song goes:
You go to school and you learn to read and write
A fairly basic statement, until you hear it in the context of the song, which is about the frustrations of a young man growing up in a small town wanting to get away to see ‘what’s over that rainbow.’ The next line is:
So you can walk into the County Bank, sign away your life
Get the picture? The song is really a mix of those frustrations with hope that the future will be better, all based on the belief of youth that the world is a much better place everywhere except in the small cocoon that encloses them. I know, I was young once, and my memory hasn’t completely gone. Yet. As I approach a major change in my life it does in some strange way feel like I’m a teenager again, with so much to look forward to. The big difference is that I’m not dreaming about what my life may hold and what I may make of it, but how I can spend my time enjoying myself, doing all the things I’ve wanted to do but haven’t yet done, and hopefully still making a useful contribution to society in my own small way. That’s a kind of dream, isn’t it? To my mind, there’s nothing wrong with having dreams at any time about what life may hold for you – being without some hope is like giving up on life, which is not something I’m planning on doing any time soon!
But let’s go back to the song line that started off my thoughts. At its most basic level it is a simple statement of fact: everyone goes to school, and reading and writing are the basis of all forms of learning. All of you reading this must have gone through some schooling to be able to be here now. But I know that people read this blog from a huge number of countries worldwide, not all of which have such a developed education system as the USA and the UK, where the bulk of readers come from. We take education as a right, as a given part of our lives. My education has taken me to university, to a Masters degree, and supported me through my working life. I have been able to read anything I wanted to along the way – even if I still have to look up the big words in a dictionary from time to time. I’ve always seen this as an entirely natural thing, and the opportunity to have a good education should be a given for everyone, regardless of where they are born. Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, that is still not the case everywhere. Maybe, when we sit and think about our frustrations with life, with our dreams of something better, we should also think how lucky we are to do that – not everyone even knows the rainbow exists and that there might be a better place beyond it.
A final thought: the song that started this off has been covered several times. I’ll leave you with my favourite of these, with the beautiful voice of Shawn Colvin