Time to myself has been a rare commodity of late, and when I do have it I am generally too exhausted to blog. And yet the urge to stay in touch with the outside world in the form of ‘my readers’ is still there, as is the desire to be doing something other than paid work, parenting, and trying to master Tilly’s green ukelele.
So I came up with the idea of posting a bunch of the posts that I have started, but never got around to completing, and probably never will, as a quick and easy (non-ratings period) form of post – that still might interest and amuse (one can only hope). So here they are in reverse chronological order (perhaps my favourite order, aside from The Little Sisters of the Poor).
Draft 1 – A Portrait of the Artist as a Not so Young Man (from August, 2013)
It is strange how having young kids can help you to reconnect with your inner child and at the same time make you feel so very old. In the twinkling of an eye I can go from lumbering up and down the hallway in mock pursuit of a screaming toddler to lying on the floor of the same hallway while my toddler walks up and down my screaming lumbar region to give me some relief from my bad case of baby back.
I am 43, and yet, like most men of my generation within my culture, I would never admit to being middle-aged. I teach English to students from countries where middle age starts at 30, so it always amuses them that I can be so far south of this particular lifestage border but still be speaking English (if you get what I’m saying, amigos)…
Draft 2 – My Kind of Rabbi (from June, 2013)
‘Bad things happen when the pace of change exceeds our ability to change, and events move faster than our understanding. It is then that we feel the loss of control over our lives. Anxiety creates fear, fear leads to anger, anger breeds violence… The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the fears of others, and in that sharing of vulnerabilities discovering the genesis of hope.’
The Dignity of Difference – Jonathan Sacks
‘Every time they trot out another episode of Q&A featuring Mr. Science and Reason, Lawrence Krauss, versus a designated representative of Religion and Faith (most recently, the bizarre double act of Gay ex-Episcopal Bishop, Gene Robinson and the ever delightful Fred Nile) I have to watch it. Even though the experience is like picking a scab ’til it bleeds.
I’ve just finished reading ‘The Dignity of Difference’ by Rabbi Jonathon Sacks, and my first purpose in writing this post is to recommend it to you. It is an attempt to speak about the role of religion in globalisation, in the hope that religion might not just be seen as a violent reactionary force, but as an advocate for community in a world where only the individual and the state are left (oh, and the nuclear family, of course, which is almost more destructive of community than rampant individualism)….
Draft 3 – Girls, ‘Girls’ and ‘Raising Girls’ (from May, 2013)
This week I finished watching the first season of ‘Girls’, read ‘Raising Girls’ by Steve Biddulph, and also read a couple of articles on teenage sexting that people had posted on F******k (see footnote), and I really want to write about this, but it’s hard to know how to do so without just falling into the millenia old the-younger-generation-have-fallen-into-the-moral-abyss cliche.
Footnote – I’m sure I’m not the first person to make this Facebook-as-an-expletive visual gag, but I’ve never seen it before. Have you? If so, please let me know where.
Draft 4 – Sincerity (from December, 2012)
Love is the answer, my friends. And if you find this too easy, or too simplistic, then you need to read this blog post on the problem of irony, from the New York Times Website, that my friend Stu posted on Facebook. And if you’re still not convinced, you should read this review of a biography of the novelist David Foster Wallace, from the New York Review of Books. And if you are too lazy to read either, let me summarise. Sincerity is the new irony, folks, and I will no longer be the man in the ironic mask (Ah! Even when I try to be sincere, I still end up being intertexual – and using brackets).
Seriously though, I am being serious. Playfulness is one thing – we’re not after pomposity, after all – but we really need to move on from living permanently in the ironic mode. Irony is meant to be for emergency use only, people.
ps Read the articles!
Draft 5 – Osama, My Father (from May 2011)
Note – This one, from over two years ago, was actually my first ever attempt at a post. Somehow the subject matter didn’t seem right for an opening post on a parenting blog.
I have recently decided that there are three kinds of fathers, exemplified by me, Heinrich Himmler, and Osama bin Laden. Category one (me) I call the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type father. Category two (Heinrich Himmler) I call the Mr Hyde and Dr Jekyll type father. Category three (Osama bin Laden) I call the Mr Hyde and Mr Hyde type father. Let me explain…
I have always been a pretty placid person, very Dr Jekyll-esque, not at all prone to explosive anger or violent impulses. However, the introduction of a child into my life has been somewhat like the introduction of the bubbling potion into the life of Dr Jekyll. It has released my inner Mr Hyde. Put sleep deprivation and a screaming, sleep-resistant baby together and you have a very potent cocktail/potion. As was the case for Dr Jekyll, the discovery of this monster within has been quite a frightening experience. The impulse is, of course, to make sure that Mr Hyde doesn’t emerge in public, to save you from being judged.
On the positive side, it seems that I am in no danger of becoming a Nazi war criminal. I was watching a documentary about Himmler the other day, and he was described as a ‘loving and devoted family man’. In fact, it has become a bit of a Nazi cliche, the ‘cultured’ German camp commandant, who commits barbaric acts by day, and then at night cuddles his blond children in the evening whilst listening to Bach on the phonograph.
Several of Osama bin Laden’s children were found in the compound where he was killed, including a 12-year-old daughter, and it made we wonder what kind of father Osama bin Laden would have been, and how his daughter will reconcile her experience of him with his public image later in life. A recent article in the Guardian suggests that he wasn’t the overly indulgent father that so many high ranking Nazi’s were presented as.
Apparently, he had five wives and over twenty children, which might go some way to explain the difference. According to the article, ‘Omar, the fourth child of Bin Laden and his first wife, published a book in which he recalled a strict father who allowed no toys, no ventilators for boys who suffered from asthma and took his family on hikes in the desert with no water to toughen them up.’
Final Note: I also had three drafts that were just a title with absolutely no content. I have no idea what I planned to write. They were…
1. Grief and Joy (from August, 2012)
2. Anger 2 (from July, 2012)
3. Live in the Now (from May, 2012)