Tuesday, 23 November 2010

On Blogging

The room, which had been buzzing with conversation moments before, was silent.

"That was painful," someone muttered, and they were right. Moments before, I had embarked on telling a story that in my head sounded interesting and relevant to the topic of conversation. It didn't quite pan out that way, and halfway through I wished I hadn't bothered.

You see, there's some sort of problem with the way I formulate sentences when preparing to say them out loud. It never works. I have an idea in my head that has the potential to be an interesting anecdote, an amusing joke, a poignant, deep and meaningful speech. Except it never fulfills this potential; the words stumble out of my mouth and lie in a heap - like alphabet spaghetti - in front of me. Attempting to follow one of these conversations is like bear-baiting, the thing you're contending with is desperate to leave you exhausted and confused, and it would take some skill to make it through without losing the point.

And then there's my accent. This isn't a problem with friends or family, of course, but it's incredible how quickly someone will assume that you're stupid based solely on the way you speak. The first time I realised I even had an accent (odd though that may sound) was my first year of university. The most cringe-worthy moment comes from a seminar on Roma Citta Aperta, an Italian neorealist masterpiece. At the time I knew nothing of literature, film or poetry, and had jumped headfirst into a degree course that was half made-up of all these things. Good move, Tom.

So I arrived, understanding what I was told but lacking the means to express it. This particular seminar was a massive turning point for me. We'd all watched the film, and been discussing it for half an hour. I sat at the back, as usual, avoiding the lecturer's eye lest she ask me a question. She asked if anyone had noticed anything in particular about the portrayal of the Nazi occupiers. The room was silent in response. Seized, all of a sudden, by a need to prove my worth, I ventured an opinion;

"Well, they're all, like, gay." I nearly added an 'innit' at the end there to make it sound even worse, but there's no need - it's bad enough as it is. I caught someone to my left rolling their eyes, some others actually laughed. The lecturer replied,

"Yes, exactly. There are definite homosexual undertones." I got it right, you bastards. I was right; I had the answer she was looking for, only I didn't have the correct words to express it. I realised then that this was generally the case in my literature classes - I knew these things, I noticed them, but I didn't know how to get the idea across without sounding like a complete chav. So I read an incredibly boring book on literary theory and criticism, and armed myself with enough knowledge to make myself sound like I knew what I was talking about.

So that solved that problem, but how often do you get into literary conversations at parties? Not often at all, so my complete lack of oratory skill remains an issue. My accent has improved (a year in Italy demanded it - otherwise the people I held conversation classes for could have auditioned for Eastenders). If you heard it now, you'd probably wonder what I was making a fuss about. I've buried it, almost. But I do lapse into it - especially after a drink - and I love it more now than I ever have before. I'd consider resurrecting it if I could do so without people thinking I'm retarded.

And so, to remind myself that I'm not stupid and to give me a place to communicate the strange things I think, I started a blog. I'm not sure why, but I communicate much more effectively in writing. Maybe that's because there's less pressure to perform; I can think, re-think, write and re-write. Then there's the added benefit that if someone doesn't get what I'm saying, I don't witness their reaction. I don't have to see their eyes glaze over as I struggle to pull the conversation back from the brink of nonsense. It's come to mean quite a lot to me, so when people say nice things about it I can be rather too gushing in my gratitude. But I'm British - we have to say please, thank you and sorry at every possible occasion, so my thanks to Amber, Tabitha, Risha, Kisekae, Gnetch and everyone who reads and comments. If it weren't for you, I'd be destined to a life of painful conversation - or silence, which may be preferable.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

On Breaking the Monotony

Lately the world around me has become somewhat grey and dull. As I sit here on the train, opposite a huge man who is taking up two whole seats [how many tickets has he bought do you think? Fare dodger], I find myself yearning for something exciting, something anarchically fun and completely unexpected.

This was prompted in part by last weeks' student protests, which I observed (via news feeds and twitter) from my cluttered desk at work. How I wished I'd booked the day off and joined them in their insurrection. How I envied their passion and their anger. I toyed with the idea of joining them, but decided that a picture of me scaling Millbank in the paper would do my credibility no favours.

The feeling grew deeper as I wrote my TASG post on what I wanted to be when I grew up - dragging up memories of how magical the world once seemed. But don't worry - this isn't one of my usual woe-filled posts. In fact, it marks a new beginning. I stand at a crossroads; on each side a road that leads to an alleviation of the gloom in which I'm currently lost. I will not sit idly by while my life is taken over by bad news, bad prospects and austerity cuts. I will take action.

To my left (for that's the direction to which I'd lean) is a road that leads to the land of political involvement, home of last week's Feedom Fighters. Perhaps, instead of moaning or silently fearing the future, I should get off my arse and shout about it. However, as Rachel tweeted last week, it's incredibly annoying to hear ordinary people talk about topics they don't really understand. To be politically involved, without sounding like a complete pillock, I need to know about stuff. Really know about it, inside out, or else I won't feel comfortable shouting about it. At the moment, I don't know anything about...anything. This will need to be rectified.

So to the path to my right, directly inspired by the memory of trying to jump into a photograph in a book when I was young. I shall stop viewing things with these adult eyes. I'll stop looking at price tags and newspaper headlines and retreat into a world of make-believe. No, that's incorrect. I won't retreat into it, I'll just do what I used to do when I was little, and imagine that there's more to the world than meets the eye. I have dubbed this option my Imagifesto. From now on, I'll imagine that there actually are castles on clouds, the tube is pulled by a team of invisible Harry Potter horses (top marks for anyone who remembers what they were actually called) and that the man opposite isn't just dangerously overweight - he's actually a giant, and therefore it's fine that he only has one ticket for two seats - it would be completely unfair to charge one species more than another. Already, my reality seems a little bit more colourful, and I seem a little bit more insane, I suppose.

I think it's a form of mid-life crisis or something; only where most people revert to how they were in their hedonistic twenties, I've reverted to being six.

Friday, 5 November 2010

On Staying the Same

I was at a bus stop yesterday, white headlights driving past in one direction, red brakelights in the other. The wind was so strong I had to lean into it just to stop myself being pushed back. And that there, that's my life. All of the people driving past had somewhere to go or something to do. I'm stood still, struggling to keep my head above water, waiting. For what? A lottery win? A new and exciting job to fall in my lap? A cure for my mum's illness? Well, a bus, actually. But you get my point; the world keeps turning, seasons come, seasons go. I stay the same.

It's Bonfire Night, so the sky is full of fireworks; pretty, sparkling, multicoloured fireworks. I'm watching them from my bedroom window, thinking about 5th November last year. The only difference that springs to mind is that I didn't have a blog then. I was probably on Facebook. I was probably here though. Broke, bored and hoping that in a year's time something would have changed for the better. It hasn't, not really.

I'm fed up, in short. Completely and utterly fucked off with everything. I hate talking like this - wallowing in self-pity - because I know that I'm fortunate, all things considered. Things could be worse. But they could be better, too, and I want them to be better. I'm not sure if you feel the same, but I feel like our generation wants everything, and wants everything now. Buy now, pay later, instalments and loans and store cards. Why save up? Why work for it? Why wait? It's incredibly impatient. I was incredibly impatient and, although I've managed to rein in my spending sprees, I still feel that same restlessness when it comes to my situation. I want to change, to progress, to enjoy. I don't want to have to wait.

I want to scream. Seriously, I'm in such a mood - the worst kind of mood. The kind that builds up slowly, over a few days. The kind you try to bury with fake smiles, small talk and early nights. The kind that leaves you wanting to tell colleagues to shut up and get out of your face, to cancel your weekend plans and stay in bed listening to Damien Rice forever.

I'll be ok tomorrow. Who knows, maybe just posting this will cheer me up. It will certainly embarrass me when I read it once I've managed to disperse the angry little rain clouds currently hovering over my head.

Man up, Tom, and put some more upbeat music on.