Harry Potter and David Gray

I have been blogging for just under a year now. It has opened my world up and helped me to express myself a lot better. Plus I have been able to communicate with a wider range of people about a wider range of things. I have written here mainly about my own thoughts and feelings when travelling or going through life, which often for me is one and the same thing, though other people have related to what I’ve written or shared. When this happens, it is the best feeling. When you write, it can feel like the words are hitting the screen and the page and that’s the end of the matter. That isn’t always the case any more. My favourite example of this was not so long ago when I wrote about my love of flat Irn Bru and someone I know Tweeted me about it, starting off a whole conversation.

Sometimes, though, the words just don’t come. When I am really busy, as I have been recently, I either don’t have time to write or when I do, the words aren’t there. There may be a deep feeling, an urge, to write but nothing there. Even writing this piece now, having had a couple of weeks off from writing, is hard because I am thinking about it more than normal. Writing is best done every day, or most days, and I do. I have continued to write stories, which I have done most days for years and years. In my notebooks, there are even little marks to denote writing done on my birthday or Christmas Day. But there is a vast difference from writing in a notebook no one will see to writing here and thinking about themes and it making sense.

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This post being written. With most of my clutter artfully hidden

I used to say that I was better in print than in person. That with more considered thought, I came across better than in the moment where I could stammer and stumble. I still stammer and stumble but strangely the tables are turning. I find it easier to be funny, or at least to attempt wit, in person. I find it easier to talk about travelling in writing because there are times it is just easier to link thoughts together with letters and words, with spaces, grammar and punctuation. Now, I spend a lot of my life around people and, sure, there are times when I fall flat on my face. Often literally. I do the same in writing. I am a lot braver behind a keyboard and there are times I regret words I’ve written or thoughts expressed too flippantly. But that is life and you just have to persevere.

There are times when all I want to do is read and write. I am studying for an Open University degree and there are times it gets neglected by life and when I can get to it, I am too knackered to do anything. Same with writing. The last few weeks have been so mental that there haven’t been words to spare. My words have all been put to work in my actual life outside in the world. In an ideal world, I would be able to spend all my energies thinking beautiful thoughts, writing some of them down and working on my degree in splendid isolation. That won’t happen. I need to earn the money to be able to travel and chance upon even somewhat nice thoughts. Plus I want to be out in the world meeting people and you can’t do that behind a keyboard in your jammies (or equivalent). Well, you can but it’s not quite the same.

So, what’s the alternative? I’m going to keep writing and see where it takes me. Like in my working life, if there is an opportunity to take it forward, I will do it. Writing makes me happy. It gets out a lot of the feelings and thoughts from everyday life and it keeps me sane. Well, there are a lot of things that do that but writing is high up on the list.

What isn’t so easy is finding time to read. Someone once said that good writers are also good readers. I love reading but rarely get time to do it. For the last wee while, I have been re-reading the Harry Potter books and I am looking forward to reading the script of the new play, which I have ready to pore over. Harry Potter isn’t massively intellectual – I just like something familiar yet still filled with details and new things to discover, a subtext or a character not yet understood. JK Rowling is all about the details. The world the stories are set in is intricately sketched out, which appeals to me as it is fantasy yet close enough to the real world. Of the main characters, I would probably be Hermione, in a neat gender-swap, but I don’t have half her dedication to studying. I have been reading them on-and-off since they first came out. I read Deathly Hallows the day it came out, while at work in a museum. I managed to finish it in five hours, in between talking to my colleague and the public and answering the phone. Cursed Child I might leave until I am on my holidays, though, so I have more time to get back into it.

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One of the few vaguely Harry Potter pictures I have. This is King’s Cross Station, from whence the Hogwarts Express emanates

Apart from entering into Pottervana, I haven’t read all that much lately. I have read no fewer than two books about Hibs winning the Scottish Cup, Time For Heroes by Ted Brack and Moonshine on Leith by Sandy Macnair. Pleasingly, the latter features on my e-mail signature right now as the book I am currently reading. I was of course there at the Cup Final. (Not on the pitch, I hasten to point out. I was too busy greetin’ in the stand.) But reading about it doesn’t make my memories any less real. It is just interesting to hear someone else’s views. Macnair’s book is funnier, though. He is a great mate of Irvine Welsh and has written about some of their wilder experiences. He was also a frequent contributor to the now mainly defunct Hibs fanzine Mass Hibsteria, very often the funniest bit. Ted Brack is more restrained in his writing but that’s not a bad thing either. He brings a clear love of Hibs into it and his other books about the club, particularly the one about Franck Sauzee. Both books have a deep joy about finally winning the Holy Grail and it is one I share. Even in the midst of the last few months, of deep political uncertainty and being even busier than normal, watching the highlights of the Final, with the immortal line ‘And Liam Henderson to deliver!’ just before David Gray heads the ball into the net, never fails to make me smile broadly, sampling just a little bit the feeling I had back in the South Stand when tension gave way to utter delirium.

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Before the Cup Final

I will never be over the Cup Final. Luckily, I have other books to read that aren’t about the Cup Final. The other day I was working at Ibrox Library and got a book off their New Books stand that I’m going to take away to Ireland next week. It’s called A Sky Full of Birds, by Matt Merritt, all about birds and how they often gather around our islands. That’s according to the blurb. I have a small pile of other library books I hope to read in the next few weeks even though I have had them for months. One is Uniquely Human: A Different Way Of Seeing Autism by Dr Barry M. Prizant with Tom Fields-Meyer, which I picked up because of the subject matter, mainly. Another is Claxton by Mark Cocker, which is a nature book about a village in Norfolk, while I also have a book of photographs of human nature and architecture closer to home called Look Up Glasgow that should hopefully inspire new wanderings when I get the chance to read it. Finally, inspired by this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, titled The Big Friendly Read in honour of the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth, I have Matilda, shamefully one of the few Dahl books I haven’t read despite enjoying the film when I was a kid.

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The to-read pile

That’s the to-read pile. Before I started writing this, I went through my inbox reading through articles and blog posts I had saved to read at a later date. Some for blog ideas, the others just interesting without words to write about them. Since I have been blogging, I have discovered other blogs in turn, reading about a variety of things including urban art and travelling on trains, to name but two. When you don’t have time to read books, picking and choosing is the way to go. It is just about widening the net a little and being more discriminate about what you catch. It’s the same when writing. There are some ideas, some thoughts that just stink. They still need to be tried out and if they get tossed, that’s fine. You can’t like everything. Writing still makes me smile, though, because like in life, you never know where you end up. In this case, Harry Potter and David Gray in the same post. No’ bad at all.

I will still be a wee bit quieter on the blogging front in the next few weeks due to being on holiday and that. I will probably write a little something about being in Edinburgh last week that will appear before I go to Northern Ireland on Saturday. Or not, we’ll see. Until then…

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