In my last (first ever) blog, I mainly was testing out the format,finding my feet and waxing lyrical about nothing in particular apart from the fact that I had got round to writing a blog. Nothing wrong with that and to be honest if you’ve read the first one and thought yeah I’ll give the second one a bash, first of all thank you for showing an interest, and second expect more of the same in the future.
However, tonight as I sit here with the last remnants of a birthday cake emblazoned with the Man U football club logo ( a club I neither endorse or support) I find myself in quite a reflective mood and thought I would write a little bit about that. It was my son’s tenth birthday today. Obviously that is a bit milestone in his burgeoning life. I was telling him it’s the first time he gets to add another digit onto his age and that he’ll have to wait another 90 years for the next one (I’ve only got 59 to mine!). He is also on the cusp of the looming teenage years which help shape the adult he is about to become.
I know that full well as my eldest child, my daughter Emma is slap bang in the midst of this and boy do we all know it at times. it doesn’t take much to set her off. “Please clean your room,” can be met with an unfettered outburst of “I’ll do it later, Dad!” that could set off a sharp spike on the Richter scale. I blame myself. Or rather my fiery Celtic genes. I have to really. Her mother is the only person I’ve ever had to ask to speak up in argument. Anyway, I’m digressing from my main theme and to be fair on Emma she shows signs of settling back into a more assertive older version of her younger self. So it’s all good.
The point I am heading for is, and I know this sounds a bit obvious, was Thomas’s birthday is actually quite a landmark for me too. You see, I was at uni when Thomas was born. In fact, I was at uni when we decided to have a second child in the first place. I remember the conversations we had about it. I went to uni just before I was thirty to chase the dream I had of being a writer. My wife Wendy was a nurse at that time working on the district. We already had Emma. She was a toddler at this point, and to me it seemed a bit crazy to have another child then. My argument was it wasn’t the best timing financially-wise. However, a woman’s biological clock isn’t always. And so we agreed to try at least and much to our mutual surprise Thomas was born slap bang in the midst of my second term.
While uni does involve intensive periods of studying, it is nowhere near as time-consuming as having a full-time job. I was happy to juggle looking after him and study at the same time while Wendy was working part-time. In fact, as a father it was actually a good time to have a baby then as it gave me more time with him than I would have had had I been working during that period. I would often take him to our workshops in my friend’s Sarah’s house, or for a quick hello to my friends in the student bar. My female pals all wanted a cuddle of him, while my bloke mates wanted a hold to evoke to the passing ladies their nurturing potential fatherly sides. My grades dipped a little, but not too much. I remember too talking to one of my lecturers with Thomas in his pram and talking about writing and finding time with having kids and him saying maybe once they have gotten a bit older I would find more time.
So while my first thoughts of Thomas are as his father and I love him dearly, his life is almost indelibly linked to the extent of my writing career. He was conceived, born and nurtured as a baby while I was at uni pursuing that course and now a full decade later, he is on the cusp of being a young man and I am still “trying to find time.” Not that I haven’t been writing in all that time. I have written nearly 50k words of a novel, completed one screenplay (though in hindsight it’s quite a naff story) and am working on another. But in ten years Barbara Cartland could have probably written a hundred novels. Fair enough, she didn’t write her own stuff and she’s dead now, so it would be ghost written in more ways than one, so she might not be the best example. But somehow I have this sense of frustration. It isn’t from lack of ideas. I have them spilling out of me sometimes. They jostle for prime position. It’s just that little thing called time which is precious commodity.
There was a film on a few months back with Justin Timberlake and it was about people literally buying time. It wasn’t particularly good, but it was an interesting hook that would resonate with a lot of people. A lot of things have happened in those ten years for us as a family. For instance, in the space of a six month period both my father and Wend’s father died and her mum had a severe stroke. It was intensely heartbreaking, time-consuming period that changed my outlook, and maybe even my personality, forever. But ironically, it brought us together like never before. Not in an immediately tactile way as she was living at her mum’s house, but we found we needed to rely on each other more than we had ever done, even just for raising the children. We realised afresh what it was we saw in each other again. And we started to understand how each other ticked, which is no mean feat. At that point, writing had been on the back-burner for a while, but when brief pockets of time started to become available, that’s when I felt the need to just write something. I wasn’t overly worried about the quality, and that wasn’t always a bad thing as worrying about the quality stops you from writing anything or gets you hung up over where you should put your next and for 3 hours!
Maybe, in all this I am missing the point anyway. Writing isn’t necessarily all about getting published, though that is the end-game of most, if not all, writers. As I am beginning to find out writing can be its own cathartic experience. So now, as I eat the last slice of Thomas’s Man U football cake he had for his tenth birthday, trying to stop the metaphoric crumbs of time from slipping through my fingers, I type, something, anything, with a slight smile on my face.