Mental Freewheeling

A thought struck me this morning.

Our kids, though “young” in our eyes, are actually older than Julia and I were when we first met.

I’m having trouble putting that in perspective.

It makes me feel old, but it also makes me wonder if I’m treating them like children when they are really adults. On the other hand, maybe I’ll start treating them like adults when they start acting like adults. Until then I will keep providing logistical support and offering advice which is ignored.

That represents most of the thinking I did this morning because, after dropping Julia off at work, I went back to sleep for much of the morning. I was able to set the bedroom fan just how I like it and go back to sleep for four hours.

The new router finally arrived from British Telecom. It only took three months, five phone calls and (from them) multiple examples of poor customer service for us to get this far. At this point I think it’s fair to point out that this is far, far better than my experience with Virgin.

I’m still both impressed and appalled by the way I made tea last night. Julia didn’t know what she wanted, just “something light”, so I threw together avocados, prawns, rocket, coleslaw, tomatoes and thousand island dressing (or ketchup, mayonnaise and plain yoghurt if you require accuracy).

It’s impressive because I merely toured a supermarket pulling things from shelves and produced a reasonable meal. Even after forty years of cooking for self and family I’m still always amazed when I manage to do that.

On the other hand there are ecological issues with avocados and prawns, plastic issues with bagged rocket, tomatoes and coleslaw and some air mile and additive concerns too.

I should have done better at growing my own (we’ve grown virtually nothing this year) and I’m capable of making better coleslaw than the one we had last night.

I just looked up eco-guilt as I think that’s what I’m suffering from. It is a word, though without the hyphen. I like the hyphen but I suppose I’ll have to lose it. Also known as “green guilt”. There’s a whole post waiting to be written on that.

Meanwhile I’m a bad parent and mediocre husband – do I really have enough guilt left to encompass the plight of avocado farmers and plastic-eating sea creatures?


George Orwell – Southwold Pier

Unfortunately not. I would like to worry about them, but it’s not going to happen until I can find more space in my (metaphorical) self-flagellation schedule. I’ll try to cut down on plastic, and I’ll try to eat less processed food, but it’s hard to remember when you’re busy and shallow.

Currently I’m reading a book about three friends touring the piers of England and Wales. It’s research, as I’m considering doing the same thing. I’ve always wanted to write a book so I may stitch together the blog posts on piers and give it a go.

One fear is always about word count – can I write enough words. I reckon the blog now runs to around 400,000 words which suggests that stamina and vocabulary won’t be a problem, though it’s still only enough words to do 80% of War and Peace.

I once read Gone with the Wind (400,000 words) when I was about 16. It took a weekend. I then moved on to War and Peace (500,000 words), lost my way in the family names, stalled, tried again and lost the will to live. That is a lot of words, though I feel War and Peace was probably easier to write than it is to read.

Obviously writing is not like bricklaying so just being able to stack words on top of each other won’t be enough. I have some regular followers/commenters who seem to stick with me so I suppose I must be doing OK

I’ve just counted the words I’ve written on two piers and two lots of fish and chips – 2,739. If I extend to crabs, winkles and candyfloss that should give me 75,000 words, which should be enough for a book. Add in the words I’ve done on marshes, butterflies and such and we come up to around 100,000 words, probably a few more if we get held up in traffic. This is likely to be too many.

It looks like I’ve just publicly committed myself to visiting over 50 piers and writing a book about it.

Having done that, and I did think about it before I wrote it down, I now have no excuses.

As I wrote that line I felt all my confidence drain…

What have I done?




25 thoughts on “Mental Freewheeling

  1. M. A. Lossl

    Omg, thought it was just me. Please write book, I know so many people it would make good present for. I would certainly read it. You always make me hoot with laughter, because I’ve been there, but only with my Catholic guilt. No sense of humour to save me, (my grandparents were from Germany hence my lack of humour, unless farting and beer are involved).

    1. quercuscommunity

      Any country that can come up with the word bustenhalter (give or take an umlaut) must surely be capable of humour.

      I’m still planning the book, and if I run out of steam Plan B is “eat more chips”, which should be good for a few thousand extra words.

  2. Donnalee

    Good luck with the book–I think you have some good raw material, although the problem with raw material is that it goes off if not cooked or otherwise moved along. That’s what’s happening with my book about tarot–plenty of ingredients on pieces of paper, but none in actual book form just yet.

    And the young people thing–they don’t seem fully formed these days somehow. I was trying to be a grownup by my teens, worked and went to school and got a place to live even if it was sort of close to my parents’–I don’t see that happening much anymore. Times have changed, but maybe not always for the better.

      1. Donnalee

        I think it’s hard with kids, since the world is so frigging different than it used to be. I felt and acted like a grownup when I was younger, went to college, worked during it, that sort of thing, had enough wit not to have unwanted babies or to go to jail or anything, and maybe people feel like they are doing that now, but the whole economics and responsibility thing seems very skewed these days. The people I know who are in their twenties seem either naive or just clueless, or are already criminals. Interestingly, it is mostly the criminals who moved out and got jobs, as opposed to the others I know–

  3. tootlepedal

    I started a novel in 1968 but discovered that you need to have an idea and some organisation and as I had neither, it remains unfinished. My trouble when it comes to writing is that I can’t forget anything that I have read so all my writing tends to be an undistinguished tribute to other better writers than myself.

    Good luck with the piers. Buy a big notebook. You won’t be able to remember anything if you haven’t written it down.

    1. quercuscommunity

      Yes, I’ve already started with the notebook. My memory is fading and the photos don’t prompt me as much as I had hoped.

      If you read some internet sites on organising a novel you are in a great position to write a novel about a man rediscovering lost youth as he completes a novel started 50 years ago…

  4. jodierichelle

    I think you have the writing chops to do it, and Arlingwoman had a good idea. A guidebook in geographical order in your style would be quite a read. You’d have to play up the grumpy sarcasm a bit, but I think you have that in you. : )

    First step is to research what’s already out there, see what you like & don’t like about them & take the good ideas. Then find a quirky little thing – like Julia’s face in all the painted backdrops – that was awesome.

    You could do a “Julie & Julia” thing where you tell your story as you visit each place – or you could be more about the place and less about you. So many possibilities!

  5. arlingwoman

    I like the piers idea. If you wore a bit about the history of the pier and the areas surrounding, you could get enough words, I bet. It could be a guidebook or an armchair travel book. Of course, it would require a bit of travel to see and research them all.

      1. arlingwoman

        heh. I’m thinking of finding a subject for a book myself. I’m not sure we aren’t the same age, Quercus. In which case you’re in the youth of old age, with lots of things, like visiting piers ahead of you.

      2. quercuscommunity

        I might have answered this in your other comment – yes there is sometimes a confusion. One site lists Scarborough (Yorkshire, not Maine) as having three piers, but they are all working piers. The pleasure pier finally fell down in 1914.

      3. arlingwoman

        Hmmm…I’ve been to some of these, both west and east coast, but some of them look quite nice. My industrial crack had Long Beach in mind….

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