Reverse Writer’s Block: Too Many Things to Say, Not Enough Time to Say It.

This entry is long overdue. Since the last time I posted on Not In My User Name, over half a year has passed. it’s not like I’ve been short of inspiration, either. The following material has been circling round in my head in a kind of aerial holding pattern for many moons, I just need to get it down on the page: What’s Cuba actually like? Why Wigan might be one of the most culturally underrated places in the world (certainly the U.K), the General Election result (and its aftermath-I would liken it to to waiting for a bus for five years, only for it to finally appear on the horizon, and then explode spectacularly right in front of your eyes), experimenting with vegetarianism, what I’ve been reading in recent times (as an ex-pat I find it a total lifeline, definitely one of the most productive reading periods of my life), getting to grips with the Spanish language, the usual observations of Peruvian culture, and so on.

It’s not like I haven’t actually made a move to write any of it, either. To combine a mention of two of the afore-mentioned ideas, en route back to Lima from our trip to Havana in May, and still reeling from the General Election result we had witnessed on BBC World Service the previous evening-I wrote fourteen sides in my notepad (count ‘em!) with my reflections on the whole affair-the only reason I stopped was because the plane came into land at Jorge Chavez Airport! I never did resume writing it, partly because I sensed I had so much more I wanted to say and partly because, by the time I had got back to our flat and the world of WI-fi, I had read so many articles and editorials that said what I wanted to in a much more succinct way.

To paraphrase a favourite quote of mine, from the eminent twentieth-century thinker Bertrand Russell, the fool is certain, whilst the wise man is full of doubt. I often go to write something, then think better of it. In an era of digital accessibility, it feels like discretion is the better part of valour sometimes, when you work in a profession like teaching you have to sometimes cultivate a semi-bland persona at times, at least in an online sense as if you open up on the personal or political, it could get used against you at some future point by whatever or whoever. I don’t know, maybe I need another, more anonymous blog where I can delve into my old war stories and political discourse etc. Or maybe I’ll just keep them jotted down in a notepad.

The other major inhibitor of writing material is time, the old work-life balance. Teachers have decent holiday time, let there be no doubt about it, but the flip side is that you are flat-out during term time. Consequently, you spend the free time you might set aside to type something after a working day umming and arring between the blog you would like to type and the work you know you must do, until there is only time for one of them and, of course, your professional obligation wins out every time.

Anyhow, here’s enough about me procrastinating and all the things that sit in my head, waiting to be written down. here’s a list of people (in no particular order) whose blogs you definitely should check out, with an accompanying blurb saying why for each one. Enjoy:

The Adventures of Stitch Bandita-this is a newly-created blog written by my soon-to-be wife and all-round extremely talented individual, Eleanor Bull. Not everyone knows this, but El is a keen cross-stitcher and has created her own creative/commercial sideline in order to indulge this passion. The blog itself is of primary interest for those of you out there with a similar interest in the world of crafts, but for those of us who are less up on that side of things, there is plenty in the way of historical background/research and pithy writing to get your teeth into. This might be a blatant plug for my partner’s blog, but it’s also a totally deserved one, too. Also, as usual, she puts me to shame by actually finding the time in a working day to get all this done on top of her heavy workload!

The Bull Blogs-not the only Bull family member with a way with words. El’s sister Charlotte is currently on a university placement year in Russia. This blog is her collected observations of not only Russian life, but also the surrounding former Soviet republics she happens to get the chance to visit as well. High-quality, comic writing and astute observations, with some decent photography thrown in, too. Family trademarks, I think.

Another Angry Voice-anyone interested in progressive British politics is probably well aware of this blog. It’s great. Written by a youngish Yorkshireman named Thomas G Clark, he belongs to the great tradition of contemporary northern left-leaning writers and polemicists. Like an Owen Jones or Paul Mason that has not moved down south to participate in the London media world. The entire thing is very well-researched, well-written and regularly and lucidly punctures a lot of the neo-liberal waffle which passes for mainstream political discourse in the U.K media. It also operates on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ basis, a noble undertaking that invites readers to donate (or not) according to their conscience. Well worth a quid or two!

Four Nations History-I stumbled upon this one more or less by accident on WordPress, and ended up subscribing to it. Well-written and interesting accounts of (predominantly) working-class history from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. You learn a lot about some of history’s more obscure episodes from reading this one.

The Wild Peakanother accidental discovery, which sits at the confluence of history and politics that I find myself more interested in nowadays (even if my interest in contemporary politics at the moment is mainly based around what sense comedians like Mark Steel or Frankie Boyle, can make of this full-fat (as opposed to the semi-skimmed coalition variety) Cameronite society we now find ourselves living in). You will definitely learn a thing or two about obscure historical episodes-it deals with my favourite period-the dark ages-primarily, but there is that sense of political and ecological insight running throughout as he draws parallels between the worlds of the past and present.

Right, that’s enough for one installment. I promise to be more regular in my updates in future!

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