100 days old, and the year is nearly a quarter gone. Yes I know I’ve said it before, time flies, but no more so than when you get older because you’ve got less time left to enjoy it.
Time causes procrastination and putting things on the back burner. Just over a year ago I had a spurt of writing inspiration and dashed off 13,000 words for the start of a novel, intending it to be a series. I fiddled with it for several months and then, full of confidence, entered the story in a novel writing competition with a £50,000 first prize and guaranteed publication. The rejection arrived at the end of March, and I sort of gave up. This blog hasn’t been graced by my presence much recently either and all this lack of activity got me thinking about life a bit deeper. So all the effort writing and editing and pushing for publication of anything is, in the end, totally meaningless, unless you’re Shakespeare or Dickens. Their body of work is still read and admired 400 and 150 years respectively later. The rest, with a few exceptions including this august tome, will be forgotten and lost in the annals of time in a very short space of time. Archive film footage and news publications of yesterday are only looked at out of nostalgia or research. Not many bodies of work are held in high esteem and referred to many years after publication or death of the author. The ones that immediately come to mind are Winston Churchill’s ‘History of the English Speaking Peoples’, or Dr Jacob Brownowski’s ‘Assent of Man’. OK you could argue there are loads more serious books that could be included in this list, but its my list and I decide what’s in it, so there.
The point I’m trying to make is don’t put it off. ‘It’ can be anything. In my case its the aforementioned novel, but includes a TV play and getting a paid gig playing my guitar and singing. What some of you may not realise is that I’ve written a few tunes, some with words written by someone else and some I’ve penned myself. Just search Clive Handy on YouTube, there’s a few recorded items on that. It wasn’t until I stopped working that I realised I could devote more time to this stuff, but in actual fact I end up spending less time on each: go figure. So why is this? Well its down to the old saw, works expands in the time available to do it. In other words why rush? There’s nothing to be gained in finishing things quickly: you’ve only got to find something else to do in the time you’ve saved. Not that I’m trying to fill slack spaces of time, there’s always something to do. My old mate Dick Chadwick puts it well: today I are mostly drinking beer and looking into the wind. Why? Because he can, that’s why. There are people who think its an absolute sin to be bone idle for a few hours. Not so. Sitting at lunch time having a bowl of soup and watching ‘Doctors’ could be considered by some to be wasting your time sat in front of the one eyed god. No so, its down time and we all need it, whether you have a high powered executive job or retired. Nobody can be on the go all the time, its physically impossible.
Anyway back to the written and spoken word. Wouldn’t it have been great for Shakespeare or even Dickens to have had video in their day? We could have seen and heard what they sounded like. That would have been something. Like most great writers Dickens had doubts about his work and serialised a lot of it in weekly magazines. That’s incredible when you think of the JK Rawlings and Dan Browns of today. Many of today’s writers target their exquisite tomes purely towards the angle of being turned into a film. To my mind that must be one of the most satisfying things that could happen with anyone who writes original stories and scripts. The thrill of seeing your words and actions being portrayed on a screen must be the highest. Given that, it amazes me that some of the movies being made are total copies of previous releases. Not much originality there then. Yet, you see something like ‘Silk’ or ‘Law and Order’ on TV both of which are original, well written and well acted, and you wonder why the movie industry find it so difficult to find funny, original scripts to turn into a film whereas some of the crap films that ARE released makes you wonder how they ever got to that stage. Quid Pro Quo as they said before Forsprung Durch Technique, whatever that means. I’m brimming with ideas for story ideas but where’s my outlet? How do get I started, to be honest I can’t be bothered, the same old hackneyed rubbish would be pedalled out, and the TV moguls will jump on it as ‘fodder for the masses’, like a syrupy placebo to calm the great unwashed. But so long as there are people like Peter Moffat and his team and the various writers for Silk and Law and Order respectively, who write such intelligent, thoughtful drama for TV, alls well in the world.
So what to do then? Right, starting from now, I’m going back to the novel, the play and the playing to get something going. Trouble is its all too easy to be lazy and not do a lot, but it takes determination, tenacity, work ethic and a need to do it and I’m going to, I’m going to, promise…. Now where’s that TV guide, oh bugger I was going to do some writing. Oh well there’s always tomorrow…..
In the meantime, here’s the words to a song I wrote a month or so ago:
In July ’42 35 merchant ships left Iceland
Only eleven ships made to Russian land
This was PQ17 the first UK/US convoy
To deliver to our allies and bring joy
The convoy sailed Commodore Dowling in charge
Along with the Royal Navy at large
They were bound for the port of Archangel
But before they arrived there would be hell
The German Navy & air force combined
Searched the Arctic to seek and find
U-boat 456 launched the first attack
To try to force the convoy back
And PQ17 was left alone and scared
Being torpedoed, bombed and attacked from the air
Because the Admiralty told them to scatter
As if being on their own didn’t matter
This decision was made by Admiral Pound
To turn back the escort and be homeward bound
This left the convoy without any cover
And thus was spotted by German flyover
24 ships were sunk in a dreadful blitz
They were frightened of the battleship Tirpitz
“It was the blackest day we ever knew
Sheer bloody murder, the end of the PQ?”
But a total of 153 men on that convoy died
Along with the supplies on which Russia relied
The legacy of PQ17 has always caused a fuss
The Royal Navy were blamed for all the loss
But it was one man’s decision to turn it around
To leave unguarded a convoy Russia bound
To quote an officer from HMS Norfolk who said
“We all swept past the convoy, it was sad
I’ve never known the men in such good heart
Then we told our aircraft to depart
The ship was in turmoil every one was boiling
The master said he had never known such feeling
It was the blackest day we ever knew
Sheer bloody murder the end of PQ.
At least some things work! © Clive Handy 2014.