Saturday, 21 June 2014

About kittens


I didn't know until last night that Fay Weldon heads the department of Creative Writing here at the University of Bath. I love all the somewhat elderly women writers just for who they are, rather than what they have written. Barbara Cartland was a minor exception, but must have served some sort of social purpose, in an imagined social sphere.

They were talking about plagiarism, and said that - like music - it is sometimes almost impossible to avoid, albeit subconsciously. I love that quotation of Robert Schumann who said, "To compose music, all you have to do is remember a tune which nobody else has thought of."


Having written almost 2000 of these posts, beginning at quite an advanced age as I did, it is inevitable that I will sometimes be accused of repeating myself. I am quite often aware of doing this, and am usually quite flattered that someone else recognises something that has already been done - it shows that at least some people are either young enough or attentive enough to spot it, even when re-hashed in a slightly different format.

From now on, I am going to view these senior lapses in recall as 'self-plagiarism'.

In my real job, I have made a point of eradicating as much of myself as possible from the finished article, and this is a lot harder to do than you might think if you have never tried.

I have come to think that this is where most of my skill - learnt from experience - lies. It probably amounts to over half the job, and is the area where I leave the young, gifted carver or conservator behind. It takes a lot of effort to ignore the desire to put your signature on everything, because the reward for all your hard work will be to watch people glance at it as if they had known it all their lives, then walk swiftly on. (See? I'm repeating myself again.)

This is why I rush to the keyboard every morning to write these posts. It is so liberating to plaster my personal views, takes and opinions all over a few hundred words every day, and it is also a completely effortless and painless exercise, unlike the hitting of stone and marble.

Changing the subject, people often ask me what on earth we do with ourselves in the evenings when we don't watch T.V.

The answer is simple. After a light supper of toasted-cheese or a kipper, we stand around an old piano and make our own entertainment by singing Victorian popular melodies until 9.00 pm, when we retire to bed.

20 comments:

  1. I have just read that 20,462 people read this blog last month. If everyone paid me 10p for the privilege, then I wouldn't have to go out and bust my arse on lumps of marble as an old man.

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    1. I have also just read that of those 20,462 people, 136 live in the Ukraine. You would think they would be a little too preoccupied to have the time to read this, wouldn't you?

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  2. Hello Tom:

    We should consider our own lives to be rather the poorer if you were to cease inform, educate, enthral and entertain us with these musings. In the absence of a television to watch, we have rather come to rely upon them. What on earth did we do before 'Tom Stephenson'?

    As for your statistics, we are hugely impressed. Whenever we look at our sitemeter it is to have a rather depressing truth confirmed of 'Last Hour : 0'!! Even are loyal supporters in Albania appear not to be there. Perhaps they are manning the barricades against possible invasion.

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    1. Just wait until Iris reads your comment. She's obviously going to have to try that little bit harder to keep her position in the Tom Stephenson fan-club hierarchy.

      I'm not sure I believe the Google statistics - I think if I really did have over 20K hits a month, then I would have as many followers as John Gray. I think mine may be accidental ones - I had almost 600 from China last month as well - apparently.

      And yet you get a brilliant, published writer like Sarah Toa who sometimes gets one, two or no comments after a post.

      You may be the second most followed celebrity in Albania, just behind Norman Wisdom.

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    2. 'celebrities' - your turn to forgive me.

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    3. Ha! Don't try to be all sneaky, Mr. and Mrs. Hattatt! You are awfully eloquent, though, and have my utter admiration.

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    4. Thank you, darling Iris, and do you have a blog?

      Sneaky? No!

      Now, darling Tom, remind us, did we tell you how absolutely fascinating, all consuming, riveting, amusing, witty, erudite, intelligent and all round good reads your posts are?

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    5. To the lovely Hattatts: Alas, I do not have a blog for my life is very small.

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  3. I've just looked and I have 29 Ukrainian readers; vegetable gardening is obviously a very popular reading subject over there (when they're not fighting).

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    1. I am sure they are very interested in an alternative food supply right now, even if it is a little far from home.

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  4. Forgive typos:
    1. cease 'to ' inform,....
    2. Even 'our' not 'are'.

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    1. Pfff! (shrugs shoulders in a chivalrous, Gallic manner) It is of no consequence, and but the work of a moment to correct.

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  5. I've never looked at my "audience source" page with a critical eye until now. All time, the Ukraine was near the bottom, but for the month it surges to the top. And, I've added Iraq.
    I'm most baffled by the "search word" statistics. I can't recall writing any of those phrases. And who would search on "dying old cat" anyway?

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    1. I think we must be caught up some other sort of traffic - the sort which surges just before the outbreak of civil unrest?

      I'm trying to recall if I have ever searched for 'dying old cat'. It's the sort of thing I type in when looking for a suitable caption photo, so I may have done.

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  6. As I complained in my last post "Wolf whistles", I have a few nerds raising high the beam of my statistics - every day over 250 clicks on the fascinating post "Arsène Lupin, Raffles and..." - all absolutely selfless, you bet - trying to lure me to a special blog.... Even more interesting the readers with blogaddresses that make me fear where my pictures will appear -- on the other hand: I couldn't care less.
    You know the saying, Tom: "Never trust a statistic you didn't forge yourself". (To John Gray with love!)
    As to eleminate your ego out of your work: well-done. The empty mirror. The last two sentences I really mean.

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    1. The 250 clicks are probably because you mention the first name of a footballer. My 600 Chinese ones are probably quick looks to see if there is anything to sell.

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  7. I repeat myself every day Tom. The trouble is that I can't remember doing it so it doesn't really matter - and often the listeners are not really listening anyway.
    I find that photo of the cat absolutely scary and I also wonder why the post is called Kittens - have i missed something?

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    1. I got the same booodist shit as you Weave - I've just told them to fuck off.

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    2. Oh, and 'About Kittens' thing is the title of the example blog that Google use if you don't know how to use the system.

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