Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Izzy whizzy, let's keep busy

I'm a relative newcomer to the blogisphere, so it would be unseemly for me to start formulating theories about its practitioners.  I still shall, of course.....

I'm thinking that bloggers are divided into two groups:

a) those with the time and energy to blog because not much is happening in their lives, and whose musings are therefore likely to be less than riveting
b) those whose lives teem with blog-worthy activity and who therefore rarely find the time to blog about it

I'm delighted to say that, of late, I've been firmly rooted in category b), hence the lengthy silence since my last posting.

I apologise to my vast army of addicted fans; the withdrawal symptoms must have been horrendous.  Actually, do I have a vast army of addicted fans?  Do I have even a solitary, depleted platoon of mildly interested ones?  I have no idea.  I daresay there's an icon on my laptop screen which would give me all the facts and figures regarding my "traffic" - I believe that's the word? - at the click of a mouse but, as is the way with us 50-somethings, for whom every tiny new technological accomplishment is cause for celebration, I've yet to discover it.  The only way I know of determining whether you're there or not is when you leave a comment.  So, please comment every time you visit, even if you only want to say something along the lines of: "Your inane ramblings about your shallow, metropolitan, freebie-strewn existence are even more tedious than when my great aunt recounts her tales of post-war rationing for the umpteenth time."  Thank you.

Going back a step, why did I instinctively write a moment ago that I'm delighted to have been too busy to blog?  Why do I consider it preferable for every waking moment to be accounted for than to have time to watch the grass grow?  I've always been like this, cramming every day with busyness and feeling mildly ashamed and depressed if I don't.

One of my friends, a mental health professional, confirms my suspicions that it's not a healthy mindset, and that many of us are prone to it.  After all, what does an old dear invariably say when you ask after her wellbeing?  "Oh, not too bad, thank you, dear.  Keeping busy."  She's been busy all her life, raising six kids on a pittance without the help of disposable nappies and Nintendo Wi's.  Heaven knows, she's earned a break, yet she would never answer: "Oh, not too bad, thank you, dear.  Just idling my days away doing bugger all," even if it were true.  Keep a hamster running long enough in its wheel and it unlearns how to stand still, I suppose.

Last week, this hamster ran so fast, he thought his little legs would fall off.  I completed 11 professional engagements in seven days, a personal best (there I go again: why isn't it a personal worst?), including presenting five overnight shows on BBC Radio London 94.9, conducting three interviews with authors in front of theatre audiences for The Guildford Book Festival, and pontificating three times about the national newspapers on TV and radio.

As any freelance will tell you, jobs are like buses; you wait weeks for one, then 11 turn up at once.  Because we never know how long the wait will be for the next batch, we always say yes to all of them even if, as in this case, it means snatching the odd hour ot two's sleep here and there then worrying that you'll give an exhausted, below par performance.

I'm delighted to say all went well.  I maintained concentration whilst entertaining London's insomniacs and nocturnal workers on the radio.  I uttered remarks that sounded reasonably informed and profound (as long as you didn't think about them too hard) about The Times, Observer, Mirror et al.  And I turned in more than adequate, if severely sleep-deprived, interviews after racing down to Guildford, with Radio 2 stalwart Ken Bruce and TV chef James Martin.

Both effortlessly delighted Surrey's bookworms, as did Frank Gardner, the BBC's Security Correspondent.  Frank's the guy who was shot by Al-Qaeda militants in Riyahd several years back, an event which cost him the use of his legs and very nearly his life.  You've seen him many times since, brillinatly demystifying the intricacies of international bomb plots from his wheelchair on the BBC news.

Frank, who turns out to be an hilarious raconteur, was physically gung-ho and an inveterate traveller before the cowardly fanatics cut him down in Saudi, and little has changed since.  Though now a paraplegic, he scuba dives, goes quad-biking and has even abseiled in his wheelchair.  He still roams the globe, even though his condition means sitting still on aeroplanes is nothing short of agony.  He is always starving when he flies, too, because food goes straight through him, and eating is not worth the hassle and indignity of trying to get to the lavatory.  (Of course, it's only airline food he's missing out on, but even so.....)

Next time I hear myself whingeing about my thickening waistline, thinning hair or some minor ache or pain, I shall think of Frank, a happily married father-of-two with a high-octane career who speaks several languages but doesn't know the meaning of 'self pity' in any of them.

Speaking of airline food, I finally have the chance to blog again because I'm on a packed Cathay Pacific jet to Hong Kong.  Everyone else is asleep: how do they do it?  As usual, one G&T and two glasses of Chardonnay have failed to knock me out.  Here I sit, hollow-eyed, whizzing along in a metal tube at hundreds of miles per hour, 30,000 feet about the planet, tapping out words which, once I'm back on terra firma and have cut and pasted them to a blog, pretty much anyone in the world will be able to see, though the vast majority will choose not to.

I wonder which component of that scenario great grandma would have found hardest to comprehend.  Still, at least she'd be happy that I'm keeping busy.

(Photos courtesy of,,

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