It's four in the morning. I've been binge-watching 'Mindhunter' and I just went to the kitchen to check on the sink, which has had problems draining. I boiled another five litres of water and poured it down with a litre of 6% wine vinegar which had been languishing at the back of the cupboard for years but it doesn't seem to make any difference. I'm at that stage in a non-practical man's life where I'm counting the times I buy the namby-pamby drain-cleaner solutions from the supermarket, comparing the cost with biting the bullet and getting Eduardo the plumber in to give a more lasting solution to the blockage. First world problems I know, but if the sink doesn't empty, the dishwasher might overflow and flood the kitchen, and if I can't use the dishwasher then I'll have to wash the plates by hand in the bath, which is a fate too tedious to consider.
Anyway that's my morning so far. Today however is a milestone, as it is the last day of my self-enforced blog publishing time-table. A year ago I made the New Year's resolution that I would draw up a weekly publishing schedule for my blog and spew out an original piece of content each Sunday. Much to my surprise, I've managed to stick to it. This is issue 53. I aimed for each post to be about 1000 words which I stuck to more of less, so that is 53,000 words. That's a lot of words, nearly a book in fact!
The exercise has taught me a lot. Sticking to a time-table has brought me a loyal if small regular reader-ship of about 60 people who take the trouble to read what I write. Some even comment and get involved with discussions which have at times become a little heated, even though I've mostly steered away from politics and religion. I've only marketed the articles on Facebook and Twitter, a single post for each article on each platform. On both, the topics that have had the most traction are Spain and Brexit, probably a reflection of the folk I interact with most on each of these.
I had no idea when I started these regular postings that 2020 would be the year of Covid-19. I had no idea people would be trapped in their homes and that I too would have a vastly different pattern to my daily activities. Looking back on it, the creation of a timetable with deadlines was probably the single best thing I could have done, as it helped me give form to a week where days could otherwise have been indistinguishable from one another, save for the occasional trip to the shops. If you're fortunate to live with other human beings, I can tell you first-hand, that being on your own during the pandemic has been far more trying than in regular times when one can come and go at will. At times it has felt like being in solitary confinement and I for one will be glad to see a return to normality in 2021, even though I'm not personally a very gregarious person. Even now my sleep patterns remain largely divorced from the clock as I'm so used to the feeling that there are no appointments to keep and nobody is going to be knocking on the door. (Hence writing this at four in the morning!)
I suppose, on reflection things could have been worse in 2020. Yellowstone could have erupted. No civilisation-killer asteroids crashed into the earth. Aliens haven't invaded and started shooting up the place. Apart from the pandemic and Brexit I think we've got off quite lightly really!
For those of you who are disappointed that my regular postings end today, I will continue to post sporadically as the mood takes me, however I plan to take the timetable principle and the allotted time to devote to another potentially more lucrative activity. I have not made a final decision as to what that might be. Someone suggested I should weave the Spain related anecdotes into a book which had not occurred to me. I had in mind a couple of other writing-related ideas, so I want to spend some time teasing these out and look at the best one to pursue.
In the mean time, here's a poem wot I wrote. I haven't written a poem since I was at school so don't laugh, but it's just a stream of consciousness thing about the things my nose encounters here on a daily basis, so don't go looking too hard for rhyme!
Of sun-born olive-branch bonfires
Of over-revved two-stroke engines
Of early morning bleached pavements
Of just-baked loaves off the bread-man's van
Of coiffured old women pebble-dashed in talc
Of elderly men dripping in Tabac
Of expresso and tostadas
Of the secret smell of budding ganja
Of churros and chocolate
Of workman's sweat and builder's dust
Of puros scenting up the street
Of frying squid and boiling octopus
Of brandy, ponche and anis
Of sun-scorched earth and tar then rain, reminding us of life again
These are the things I smell in Spain, of life, of love, of being sane.