We have reached 100 posts here on the Walking Talking blog. The 100th post was of course last night with photos from the Cup Final so this is post 101, which is more of a binary number and thus more pleasing. I have been thinking for a while about how to mark this particular milestone. I briefly looked into recording a special podcast blog for the occasion but it was too difficult to make happen, unfortunately. Besides you really don’t need to listen to me droning on. At least with this you can skim read or click to another tab when I go off on one. Instead I would like to write a little about one of the words in this blog’s title: talking.
I like to talk. I don’t always do it very well. I sometimes talk too much and I often get tongue-tied, saying the wrong things or not enough at the crucial moment. What I say, and how I say it, depends on my audience. With my family, I am much less formal, speaking much more colloquially with far more swearing and liberal use of the word ‘ken’. At work, I am a bit more formal, speaking a bit slower and using a few more big words than I might do at home. My sense of humour is broadly the same, though I keep the darker stuff away from work, well, most of the time.
My accent also shifts a bit. I am far more Dunbar when I am at home though I have noticed my voice is slightly different when I am out and about. To my ear, I still sound quite east coast though I have noticed Glaswegian words and inflections in some of what I say. In my defence, I do my best to make sure I am understood. I have tried to slow down a bit in what I say and naturally in being around people from the west of Scotland all day, some of what they say seeps into my speech. There was someone at work last week who asked if I was English, which I really am not, and there have been people who have thought I am from Fife or worse still Aberdeen. My voice is a little higher when I am out in the world and it is there that it seems to be more Glaswegian while when it is deeper, it is more Dunbar. At least that’s what I think.
I wanted to share a story. Recently I made a colleague laugh by how I naturally rolled my r’s in talking about the title of the HG Wells book War of the Worlds. From me, ‘worlds’ has a whirl attached, which I suppose is appropriate given that the world is constantly rotating anyway. It makes me think of my favourite Proclaimers song, ‘Throw The R Away’:
‘But I wouldn’t know a single word to say
If I flattened all the vowels
And threw the ‘R’ away’.
Talking isn’t all I do with my voice these days. For work, I have been leading Bookbug sessions, which involve singing songs and nursery rhymes to an audience of little people and their parents. Thankfully they join in. That has turned out to be far less terrifying than first thought, as I just focus on doing it and doing it well, less on the act of singing itself. Before I consigned my singing only to my bedroom or being in a football crowd, which is probably better for humanity.
How I speak invariably goes into my writing. I tend to write as I speak, particularly here, with some Scots expressions and syntax invariably coming in along the way. In the stories I write mainly as a release, I tend to write in standard English though there are some characters I write mainly in Scots, reflecting a broad accent perhaps or simply the mot juste. One character I love to write but hasn’t appeared for a while is written in very broad East Lothian Scots with phonetic spellings and lots of swearing. It makes me laugh, writing that way is a real pleasure and feels right for the situation. I couldn’t write here in broad Scots for the simple reason that I have been conditioned to express myself in standard English in a way that most folk would understand. So I add wee touches here and there instead.
Being natural is important to me. I have tried in my life to fit in though I have eventually discovered that being myself gets better results. In the 100 posts here, I have written many thousand words on a wide variety of subjects. Remarkably there are a few people who read what I write here regularly and even more remarkably it has been shared with a wider audience. Indeed an outcome of this blog has been my writing book reviews for the Glasgow Review of Books. Amusingly, I was sitting next to one of my more regular readers recently when they discovered I had posted something new while I had been with them that evening. The wonders of scheduling your posts.
The five most popular posts on the blog are wildly disparate. The most popular, published on 11th December 2015, was Being autistic in a museum, which was about how I experience museum visits. The next, published on 17th March, was Clydebank, I think because some of my ex-colleagues follow me on Twitter and found the blog. It was about my visit to the museum and Heritage Centre. The third, published on 26th February, was about my visit to Cambridge and covered various subjects including Taylor Swift and mojo. The post Autistic thoughts, published on 2nd February, was about what it’s like to be autistic while the fifth most popular was published only a week ago as I write this, Flaneur, which was linked to a WordPress weekly challenge and so got a wider readership that way. That post was based on a conversation with a colleague, coincidentally the one who suggested this blog in the first place. So you have them to thank/curse. I prefer to thank them as it has spurred me on to write and to connect with people in different ways.
I am a better writer than I am a talker. I am not a bad talker but I find I can say more with words written down or typed out. We all enter the world in different ways. Words are just how I do that and that’s not a bad way, really. In closing, I can do no better than to share a quote from the poet George Mackay Brown that neatly sums up how I feel about writing: