Finding myself with no ideas I thought the best way to come up with something to write about would be to type ‘things to write about’ into a familiar search engine and see what came up. There is something quite sad about having to resort to looking for ideas from other writers who you would have next to no energy for any other time of the day, but as an act of desperation that makes me feels quite dirty it is somehow rescued by the fact that most of their ideas are a bit shit. Here, from a website I shall decline to name are a selection from a list of “66 Interesting Things To Write About”. I probably should have put sarcastic inverted commas around the word ‘Interesting’ but……..oh look, I have.
- How have your failures shaped your life? That’s an upbeat topic to get us started. Fortunately my life has been crammed full of failure to the point at which I have begun to realise that I’m actually quite good at failing. In fact I’d go as far as to say my inability to succeed is one of my core strengths and so through some slippery loophole known only to me this has made me a success by default. In truth I could just as easily lie and say I’m brilliant at everything but then I must take into account that if you’re reading this right now there’s an almost 100% chance you’ve met me.
- Describe the last embarrassing event you encountered. All far too vague, to the point that it feels like it was written by someone who can’t write. The key problem is to what or whom the embarrassment is being inflicted. If I stumbled upon a member of the clergy performing fellatio on a llama I might feel a bit queasy but I imagine the member of the clergy, and quite possibly the llama too, would be blushing in all kinds of places. Can you encounter an event? I expect so but it somehow doesn’t sound right. If your life is a catalogue of embarrassing moments, many of them closely linked to all those failures you’ve been thinking about then does it really matter what the last one was? And if it was that bad why on earth would you tell anyone?
- Is it the end of a beginning or the beginning of an end? Oh, aren’t they clever. Since we are all trickling along at our own pace there can never be an satisfying answer to such a wafty, redundant question but my inclination is to say that we’ve at least started the beginning of the end. Indeed if anything it feels like we’re cantering through the middle bit of the end with quite some enthusiasm, but don’t let me spoil your day; if you think the world smells of roses then you’re very welcome to your (admittedly wrong and blinkered) opinion.
- How do dogs help humanity? I couldn’t be having a dog. It’s not that I mind them, I just wouldn’t want the hassle of looking after one. I suppose they must have been useful to some corners humanity at various points. Making postal workers defecate themselves. Giving Amundsen the edge over Captain Scott. Providing a filling meal or two during the siege of Leningrad. Posing for hieroglyphic wall art. Providing the pungent filling for millions of little plastic bags. What’s most clear is than on any given day I usually have a much better opinion of dogs than I do of humanity, and that is something that really should be addressed.
- Flesh out the ideal dream that you would like to experience tonight. Surely an act of sheer folly. Why on earth would I spell out to anyone what I’d like to dream about? And besides, isn’t the point of dreams that they are completely unlike reality and therefore unpredictable and unobtainable in equal measure? When people say follow your dreams they mean follow your goals. If you followed your dreams you’d end up being chased naked through an abandoned care home by an octopus called Dave and to the sound of The Grimethorpe Colliery Band playing Chuck Berry’s ‘My Ding-A-Ling’. Come on, tell me you haven’t had that one.
- Imagine you haven’t slept for a week. Now describe how you’re feeling right now. Tired, the answer would be tired.
- Write a letter to your 5 year old self. Why? It is highly unlikely that my 5 year old self would be bothered to read it (any more bothered than he was about writing thank you letters) since it probably wouldn’t have involved sweets or Lego. A waste of time from both ends, though I suppose I could dampen my early flush of optimism and give some idea of the list of abject failures that lay ahead.
- Act as your father and write a letter to yourself. Even you can see that this has gone too far. Men spend much of their lives trying not to be too much like their fathers. Some succeed, others fail and most sit somewhere in between. I love my father very much and he has many fabulous qualities but I can’t see any reason why I would want to suddenly start acting like him, let alone then write a letter back to myself (which of course I could read whilst writing it, therefore saving time later on) and risk the possibility of being even more disappointed with myself or finding out I was secretly adopted. The heartbreak potential for all involved would be just too much of a risk, so I decline your suggestion.
- Which animal could you have been born as? Which of course is a stupid question because I was born as an animal. I still am an animal and I’m even struggling at the moment to believe that my particular species is even the most intelligent on the planet. Also, how would I possibly know what animal I could be? If you’re really trying to find out what animal I’d rather be then I don’t really have a clue but off the top of my head I’d say Miss Hairy Mary Miyagi because, frankly, she has a pretty sweet deal and it would also be nice to know what it feels like to be good looking.
- What are some weird things to eat with coffee? I’ll take this one literally. A tractor tyre. Keith Chegwin’s ashes. A scented candle. The weather. An owl. The DVLA. Oysters. Lewis Hamilton’s personality (a light bite). Vanessa Feltz’s opinion.
- Do people need more juice or wine? Someone has too much time on their hands. Wine, obviously.
- Your best friend is crying because he’s put on weight. What would you tell them? Er, lose some weight. Or stop crying, though that doesn’t burn as many calories. Does what you tell them have to have anything to do with their weight problem, because the question doesn’t specify. It might help to distract them from their impending morbid obesity with a jovial anecdote (or perhaps an event you have ‘encountered’): seeing a squirrel on fire; a conversation with a melancholy tree surgeon; coming third in a hair eating competition; a recent issue with your bunions. You’ll think of something, you know them better than I do.
- What’s the most irritating noise in the world? The sound of my brain trying to grind its way through my skull so it doesn’t have to think about all these dreadful questions that I’m making myself answer.
- What’s your least favourite social media platform and why? I haven’t got all day. I don’t even like the only one I’m on.
- What are the most boring ways to cure boredom? Writing a list of things to write about and posting it on the internet. Be extra boring by making that list awful and unimaginative in every sense.
Well, I shouldn’t be too bitter – at least it gave me something to write about. Thanks, the internet.
G B Hewitt. 27.06.2020