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Monday, 28 December 2009

Why write? Why blog? Why not!

A couple of weeks ago a friend, who had a quick look at one of my blog posts, said "Yeah, it's really good. I really enjoyed reading it, but how can you be bothered to write all that stuff?" Well actually that friend said "arsed" but she meant it kindly. :)

Over the washing up this morning this question set me to thinking 'why' do I do it? Why spend ages writing up aspects of my life and interests and supporting them with photos and share them?

I have to go back to childhood to make sense of it all. I was fortunate enough to be born a creative child, always drawing, painting and building fantastical things out of Lego and Plasticine. Not a good combination Lego and Plasticine! My cousin Jennifer would come round and baby sit me and read me nice horror stories before I went to sleep.

I could be very creative and recall vividly imagining the scary faces in the curtains and patterned wallpaper to be somewhat demonic and cause me nightmares. Thanks for that support Jennifer. 'The Famous Five go devil worshipping' was my fave.

My own prefered reading matter as a wee kiddy would be the latest Dalek annual or Valiant comic or anything to do with the Man From Uncle television series.

Christmas dreams realised.

When I joined the Wolf Cubs and the Boy Scouts I was encouraged to write up log books about the Scout camps (which I loved doing and would kill to see a copy of what I did back then) .We were also encouraged to be independent and gain badges as part of the Scouting system. I got the Collectors badge, Artist badge, Campers badge, Camp Cook badge (yeah very funny), Camp Warden badge and Entertainer badge. Early signs of growing interests.  Now, some kids may have left with  both arms full of badges, but looking back, I felt that I kinda specialised. The Camp Cook badge meant cooking and preparing a meal - a proper meal - on an altar fire, made up of rugged chunks of limestone, in the middle of winter, in a sheep shit strewn field and a bitter wind disturbing your woggle. You won't see Gordon Ramsey doing that! Wimp!

No doubt, I would have written all about the experience in the Eagle Patrol log book and patiently drawn pictures to illustrate the log. These endeavours of mine would have been read by the leaders and other members of the troop, and praised. There is the key for me, to write or amuse/entertain and be rewarded with praise. I have no doubt that as a teenager my humour would have been very corny and slightly surreal as I was a big fan of Monty Python and The Goodies. I used to like to draw little cartoons as well, and even imagined that one day I might be a cartoonist.

The fact that the Scout troop went to Belgium one year, in a historical period of time when travelling outside the UK was a huge adventure, really sparked off my creative writing. I was put in charge of writing the log!

La Fresnaye Scout Centre. Dworp. Belgium

For years, after I had left the Scout Movement, I would continue to write my own travelogues based on the foreign holidays I had started to enjoy. I no longer have these documents, alas, but again, I would love to look back and see what it was I wrote about and would be especially keen to see if foreign foods came into the equation. They most likely did and, being a less sophisticated self in my twenties, it is probable that I just made note of what the food was, and if I had enjoyed it.

'I had squid for tea in the Athine Hotel in Athens. It was chewy but nice. I tried some pistachio nuts. I really can't get enough of them. I got drunk on Ouso.My head hurts.' That sort of thing. And , I'll have you know, it would have all been handwritten as I didn't have a typewriter until my thirties. Doing what I am doing now (typing on a laptop whilst on the internet) would have seemed unbeliveable.

So, this habit continued for years and, being a devoted Francophile, I still write long journals about my vacations in France. Nowadays, the journal will include a lot about food & markets and the local wines & beers and trips to vineyards etc. I do these just for fun and, although they are time consuming, I love to be able to read them again after the event and remind myself of some great times and what I have learnt along the way. I like the fact that I get them printed off and they are paper reading material too. I have learnt to keep all reciepts and other paper items with details on as a reminder of fine details and this, along with the fact that I take hundreds of photos, enriches the writing.

Since I got divorced about six years ago I have been fortunate to have a lot of free time to dedicate myself to writing and performing in plays and enjoying my photography hobby. I have also had the opportunity to research the decades I have lived through - more socially than politically - and have made some inroads in documenting my life story and write about it. The picture below is of Figgy's Fair (1956 to 1971) and Hair Today (1971 to 1989). I have yet to write about my University years.

Figgy was my nick-name at school.

Creating this record through the medium of writing helps me to understand myself more and the work I put into the research has paid off in terms of me getting several paid articles published in the Derby Evening Telegraph's Bygones paper. It is quite a lot of fun seeing one's life as something of interest to share with the folk of Derby. The past earnings for the writing were literally a bonus, too.

There are five more articles additional to these two photos.

When I was living in Derby and was acting with the amateur drama group, Derby Theatre In The Round, I was encouraged to write poems about the funny aspects of the production we were performing. These would be performed by myself at the after show parties. I have written other poetry over the years but it isn't something that I indulge in much anymore. Saying that, I have found, on a few occasions, the act of writing poetry very theraputic, in particular, as an adult, dealing with the pre-mature death of my birth mother at the tender age of nine.

Nottingham Trent University Clifton site.

I left Derby in the late 1980s and began a new phase of my life at Nottingham Polytechnic, soon to become Nottingham Trent University. Doing a degree in Performance Art and the diverse nature of the course, meant that I was dealing with, and challenging, the English language critically and practically, all the time.

During the three years study I was constantly working with other creative people and writing performance pieces for all manner of styles of performance as well as my dissertations. Naively I thought that the professors and tutors would teach me like back at my senior school. That was a long time ago and a fifteen year gap in my education. There was a style of teaching, but a lot of the writing and research skills were self taught or gleaned from working with the students who were a year above you and more experienced.

The degree led to me writing my own performance pieces alone or in collaboration with other gifted Creative Arts students/practitioners and testing them out live in front of a critical audience. This craft I have continued to persue, including my recent adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. See acting blog.

A scary beast.

In my first year of the degree, the faculty encouraged us students to learn how to use computers. They were the way forward, apparently. We are talking 1988/9 here and I was terrified of the computer and all those bright green letters on the screen. How times have changed. I could have done with the internet back then to do my research! Oh those hours spent in the library.

On January 8th 2010 it will be my first blogiversary for this blog. My life has been enriched tremendously since I decided to write a seperate blog dedicated to food and the intitial premise of writing about coffee and tea shops and cafes in Nottingham. How things have grown and my writing style improved and the adventures I've had throughout this year in blogland and in the real world. Or are they the same? I'm still without an income or job, but I have made some wonderful friends through Mug of Strong Tea and a Chip Butty. Why do I write? Why do I blog?

Answer: Because I love it and because of you, my readers. Thankyou for your great support and friendship everyone. Keep blogging and writing expressively. It's great!


Janette Jones said...

We love reading your blog as well and my how it has changed over the last year. Happy anniversary - look forward to reading your posts in 2010!

Phil Lowe said...

Ta Janette. Still putting the finshing touches to this one. lol

French Fancy said...

Until someone has blogged they have no concept of how satisfying it can be. For the first three years of my blog I had nary a comment let alone a follower. It was the old style format before Follower buttons were born. It didn't matter - I did it for me, an online journal.

It's good here, innit Phil.

Dean said...

I came to read about life and food and you have kept me interested over the time I have spent here so it cant be a bad thing can it ?

I myself use my blog as a journal too, A place just to rest my thoughts and maybe re-read them again later it doesn't matter that I don't have a lot of readers and i would be slightly worried if I did given the non regular posting there but if someone finds a post they like along the way it has served its purpose.

Anyway back to you, May you continue for a long time as you are on my preferred reading list for 2010 !

Gail's Man said...

My blog will be 4 in March. I agree that it is an interesting ongoing hobby/project. Sometimes frustrating when I can't find anything worth photographing or writing about. Then there's having the discipline to sit and produce an entry worthy of the world to look at and read.
Tea and chip butties all round then next week!

Phil Lowe said...

FF: It certainly is good here, issit, innit? I'm amazed, looking at your comments input now that once upon ... that you had nary a comment. Looking back on mine though I would do three or four posts almost a year ago with no comments, nichts, rien, nada... then boosh! Raise a glass to 2010!! Sante!

Dean: Ah thanks Dean. I remember you coming on board with your comments whn I was writing about my days working in the butchery trade. Thanks for sticking with me.

As you said before, we must meet up for a coffee in the New Year.

Gail'sMan:Really, have you been going four years? I always wondered how your followers go into the hundreds! good for you mate. You take some excellent pictures and the content of your blog always has something interesting to say so do keep it up. Phil x

Anonymous said...

what a fab post. I found you through Gail's man as I wanted to read other blogs based in Nottinghamshire and was hooked. unfortunately I am no way a regular blogger myself.

Phil Lowe said...

Janilizi: Thanks for your lovely comment and welcome to my blog. Phil x

French Fancy said...

It is funny how one acquires commenters and followers. I've noticed many people wondering why they themselves do not have people leaving comments and they do what I did in the beginning. They are so into their own blogs they seldom venture into the blogosphere to make friends.

I've also noticed that many do not respond to the comments left - I hate that and seldom go back to be ignored a third time (I give them two chances to reply to me- tough but fair.)

Here's to a year when all your wishes come true, Phil.

Marian Barker said...

A great post - I can't believe it's nearly your blogiversary.

Here's to many more good reads.

Marian ~x~

Jean said...

Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary ! I'm one of those people who drops by silently most of the time. I enjoy your blog. A year ago I didn't know what a blog was. Writing one is fun, exercises the brain and the fingers, therefore keeping the old dementia at bay as effectively as bingo and knitting ! Actually I think it's cos I liked the English teacher in the first year at school and strived to get a star for my essays. Nowadays stars are comments !!!