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No really, why bother?

November 29, 2009

It’s a calm atmosphere inside the grey airport as we sit at the quiet cafe observing the the rain falling on the tarmac outside. It’s all very still. The airport experience still feels glamorous despite the grey.

There’s a beauty in even in the greyness, be it the pragmatic civil buildings or the relatively dull unassuming exterior masking spacious homes we’ve seen over the past few days.

It’s not depressing in any way. It’s stylish. It’s clean. It’s all free of clutter.

It’s all very German.

“I don’t understand why I’m so tired – I’ve not done anything!” I moan to my friend I’ve come to stay with this weekend.

“Maybe it’s because you’re relaxing.”

It was both tempting and reassuring to see it that way, even if it seemed a little weird. What would I need to relax from exactly?

I knew deep down she was right. The weekend proved to be enlightening in an unexpected way.

Fifty minutes on a plane from London Stanstead and I’d left my usual daily routine of get up / go to work / do stuff on the internet / go home / do more stuff on the internet / go to bed way behind. In it’s place was an entirely different schedule, that of parents bringing up two small children.

Days start early with children and babies knowing nothing of the conventions marking out the beginning and end of a day. The adults who care for them have a different schedule, waking early and catching up on sleep midway through the day. For us holidaymakers this change of schedule has an effect. It doesn’t take us long to be assimilated.

Everything outside of my bedroom window looked different too. Cars drive slowly in the west German surburban town we were staying in. And yet there’s not a single sleeping policeman in sight. Seemingly middle-aged hausfraus sedately pedal their way to town and back again along clearly deliniated cycle-paths. There’s no litter in sight, no patch of poorly cared for grass or flowerbed. It’s no picture postcard or chocolate box, but there’s order and precision. It always takes me by surprise.

Then there’s the trains running smoothly and on time. Journeys devoid of iPods and the pungent whiff of Red Bull make for a soporific experience. Outside the windows grey industrial buildings pass by in an unassuming blur. Everything is clean, everywhere clearly sign-posted. I don’t feel intimidated. I don’t feel threatened. I have space to breathe and think.

These are the eyes of a traveller abroad, the experiences of someone who’s experiencing something different. If I were to spend any extended time in this place I’d soon grow accustomed to the day to day niggles so that a trip to London would in turn feel refreshing, I’m sure of it. And yet the effect is as needed as it is unexpected.

“Why do you write your blog?” I’m asked by my friend as we walk back from the first Christmas market of the season.

It’s a fair question, especially given there’s strong evidence my addiction to various internet activities is the route cause of my tiredness as well as my fairly regular and tiresome boughts of paranoia.

I explain how I reckoned it was a way of reaching out to an audience, how I’d figured that writing it was as near to a radio show as I could hope for in the meantime. How maybe by writing a blog I might someday translate my bloggy experience onto the radio.

We arrive at our destination and the key goes into the front door.

“Let’s be honest,” I add, “it’s not happened yet. It’s unlikely now.”

We all step inside. I gulp at my self-deprecation. Do I really mean what I say? Is it all over? Do I need to give all of this up?

If “it” hasn’t happened yet, why bother blogging at all? Indeed, when one considers the negative side of blogging why do it? In fact, given that there are plenty of blog posts about the very subject of blogging all posing the same question as to “why”, why am I still asking the question? Have I run out of ideas? Am I boring myself? Am I committing that gravest and most typical of blogger-crimes and indulging in way too much naval gazing?

Yes, maybe I do a bit too much naval-gazing. Maybe my writing shouldn’t be too “me” focussed. Maybe I should tap into what’s going on around me a bit more. Maybe I should think more about the traffic and the audience, if it is the audience I’m wanting to court.

It’s then I think about the experts in the field, the people who have one blog about one aspect of their life, another about their work and another about their potting-shed activities. It’s as though they feel their lives must necessarily be separated into separate streams because they appeal to disparate groups of people.

Sadly, I’m not interesting or expert enough to produce a series of different blogs about loads of different parts of my life. This blog does rather take up too much of my time anyway. Mind you, I don’t see it as a weakness. I’m a complete person whose made of up lots of different weird and fundamentally uninteresting bits and pieces. I’m the only member of the audience who matters, but if anyone else wants to come along for the ride then that’s fine with me.

  1. cursedtea permalink

    Your blog posts thoroughly entertain me Jon and I have not yet given up the expectation that you shall be writing radio scripts or TV scripts!! Should you ever need a longer trip on a plane to get up early with a small child to see another cultural way of doing things just say the word!!!!

  2. Helen permalink

    Jon – I don’t know you, but you seem to be beautiful, bright and sensitive. And, what is just as important, you have a rare gift for translating your own experiences into a narrative that says something both critical and reassuring about human nature. In some ways, your writing reminds me of Martyn Harris (a comparison I don’t necessarily expect you to be happy with, but I always admired him). So don’t stop just yet. Please?

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