Here is my 200th post. I don’t look on this as a credit-worthy achievement, but simply a statement of fact. I’ve always been a person of words, and seemingly destined to read and write. I recall my father taking his youngest son to the local library, and my being outraged that I could only be issued with a child’s ticket for the reading of children’s books. I wanted to get stuck into proper encyclopaedias and science books, especially astronomy. Happily, my resourceful father used his ticket to take out books on my behalf. Where there’s a dad, there’s a way.
At secondary school, I was an out-and-out rebel. I didn’t wear school uniform, was a clandestine smoker, refused to read the lesson at Assembly because I was an atheist, not to mention a communist and CND activist. My one redeeming factor, as a ‘word-smith’, led to my surprise appointment, in my final year, as the editor of the school magazine. Perhaps the fact that the magazine was called “The Young Barbarian” had brought my name to mind for consideration. In appreciation, I became fully school-uniformed for that year.
Following on from a ‘born again’ Christian experience, I became an evangelical Baptist preacher. The words now flowed from my lips, rather than only finding their way onto paper (computers, word processors, and blogs belonged then to a yet undreamt of future). Listeners seemed to like what they heard, and I enjoyed speaking to an increasingly large ‘captive’ audience. I learned that to be a successful preacher, I had to be clear, simple and straightforward, not obscure, complicated and long-winded. I also had to be personally convinced and moved by what I was saying, to have any chance of capturing the minds and hearts of others. Hopefully, this continues to be the case. Everything I write, I ‘speak’ to an imaginary audience in my head, to try to make sure that it flows in an accessible and understandable way.
After leaving the ministry, I did ‘hands-on’ social work as a care manager, and then became a backroom boy. My ‘way with words’ led to my being the person who wrote the local authority plans and strategies for community care. This was fine as long as financial resources were available, but when these dried up I was obliged to use my language skills to disguise funding cuts as “targeting those with the greatest needs”. Tough luck on those with continuing needs now deemed less than ‘greatest.’ I took an early retirement!
Thanks to the Covid lockdown, I’ve been enjoying an ‘Indian summer’, scribbling some 12,300 words across 200 posts. It’s surprising to me to have around 85 followers and almost 1,500 visitors, but I’m glad if some of my views are found to be thought-provoking, or even provoking as such. In my experience, a jolt from something we read or hear can be a ‘call’ to the adventure of checking out, and even re-thinking, some of our otherwise ‘settled’ ideas. The other night, as a centre-left liberal (small ‘l’), I spent a thought-provoking hour listening to an interview with Roger Scruton, the philosopher, on his book “How to be a Conservative”. I’m sure I’ll never be one, but I appreciated his well thought-out, articulately argued, and sometimes refreshingly balanced views which I could go along with, even if not, perhaps, as far as himself.
Anyway, that’s another 600 words, so I’ll call a halt, and hope to ‘write to you soon’ as the saying, approximately, goes.