This morning, I took some delightful pictures of Stanley the Manly and Darwin the Dog. At once, I had of course to put them on the Facebook. There are people out there who really love Stan and Darwin and I must not disappoint them. (This is how bonkers the internet mind can get.)
I thought of various captions. At first I was going to write: ‘In order to achieve this I have to bellow WAIT like one of those terrifying county ladies who have voices which can carry over three fields.’ Then I was going to ask whether the Dear Readers liked my new wheelbarrow. It is green, my favourite colour, and I rescued it off a skip. I can’t tell you the satisfaction this gave me.
Then I thought: does everyone really need to know all this?
Of course, nobody needs to know anything. Nobody needs to know what Thomas the Tank Engine did next or what Tolstoy thought about the revolutionary wars. Lots of people survive perfectly happily without reading at all. In a way, instead of worrying what people might think about my too liberal sharing of information, I should simply think that I don’t need to write anything, and nobody needs to read anything, and that way we can all get along splendidly.
Sometimes, I do get crazy nuts in the head about something somebody writes. I shout, like a furious sergeant-major - that’s so intellectually lazy, or so banal, or so circular, or building up so many straw men, or so stupid, or so self-regarding, or so boring, or so riddled with category errors, or so unkind, or so flat-out cruel. I want to throw the book or the magazine or the newspaper across the room. I don’t need to read any of those maddening articles, so I suppose, in a strict sense, I can’t get too cross. But I do.
That’s why I sometimes think twice about what I commit to print. I quite like the idea of letting oneself go, of simply turning on the taps and seeing the water run. On the other hand, I live in a real world with real humans in it. I have, in ways I am not always very proud of, some amour-propre. I don’t want to be that person. You know the one. That person, whichever one is your bugbear that day. Everybody has a person they don’t want to be. I think: I don’t want to be the person who bangs on, and on, and on, on the internet, although I quite often do. I don’t want to be the person who always says no, but I am having to say no a lot at the moment. I don’t want to be the sad person, although I have been broken-hearted for many months. I don’t want to be the person who entirely wrecks the European project, which is why I am voting to stay in, although I understand all the arguments about the democratic deficit. I don’t want to be the lunatic horse person, but that ship has sailed.
In the end, I simply put up a picture of the dogs with their names. There really are people on the internet, people I have never met, who love those dogs. I love that they love those dogs. So they get the pictures, without the blether. And I come here instead, and write it all down, and wonder whether any of it makes any sense. But I know that there must be words, after all. Because I am that person. I am the person who has to write the words. And there is nothing I can do about that.