This is an update of my earlier post (now removed) which was called ‘The guitar table’.
The dining table has rewarded the hard work that went into it. I built it as a way of using the timber floorboards of the old veranda of our home that we were demolishing to make something bigger. The timber was dark as red cedar, but harder than anything else I have ever cut. It was about 70 years old when I pulled it up. I hand-sawed it into short lengths to avoid the nail-holes, except for the sides, which I made out of the four least damaged lengths that I had. The oregon legs and rosewood borders were recycled timbers bought at a timberyard on the Central Coast.
I had never made anything like this before and I was busy with other things at the time, so for about a year I monopolised half our (new) living room with the construction. Luckily, it was a big living room. Harriet and the boys thought I was crazy and annoying, but there wasn’t anywhere else to do it. Once it was done, the table justified its own existence. It has been much admired by family and friends.
It is very important to make things, and to value the things that have been made. Timber is wonderful because it lends itself to long use, to restoration, to reinvention. Even when it is rubbish, it is not rubbish. The endurance of timber is not eternal, but it is more than human.
When I set up this blog, I had a welcome page that said: “Congratulations on reaching one of the internet’s hidden places. This is like finding a beautiful island and having it all to yourself.” Two years later, this is still true.
I published my first post on 1 January 2018. Since then I have published more than 20 opinion or non-fiction pieces under the heading ‘Debatable’, slightly more pieces of fiction under the heading ‘Unlikely parallels’, a few autobiographical notes under ‘Fish out of water’ and one post (since removed) to reblog an interesting article written by someone else. I published a flurry of pages at the beginning, just to give the site some shape, then three or four pieces a month for the first year, and then much less.
Here’s what I have found out through publishing this stuff:
- The most viewed article on this site is ‘Celibacy and hypocrisy in the Catholic church’, possibly because it is controversial, probably because the title words ring bells in search engines, but not because it is the best article that is here to read.
- The next most viewed is ‘The networked car’, which is an opinion piece I am quite fond of. It was not particularly prescient, but since it has been published, I have noticed plenty of comment in the media that is less insightful than this piece. People are not very good at imagining what networked driverless cars might be like, how different to what we have now, or how good they might be.
- Fiction, which is the real heart of this site, is less read than the opinion pieces. The most-viewed story is ‘Pregnant girl’, which is a good one, really it is. At about 5000 words it is rather long for on-screen reading. Who knows how many people just click on it because the title is intriguing, and how many read it through to its sad ending?
Where to next?
- On this desert island of mine, I find it increasingly difficult to motivate myself to write opinion pieces. Too many people are too quick to voice their opinions. The phrase “I’m entitled to my opinion” is one of those horribly untrue commonplaces: all too often people are not entitled to their opinions, because they really don’t know what they are talking about. Far too many opinions are based in a lack of evidence or expertise, have been developed without regard to logic or plausibility, and are carried around as shields against the threat of having to engage with a disagreeable reality. While this continues to be the case, I’m not sure what I’m achieving by expressing opinions of my own. The noise of the world is tremendous, and it is mostly just noise. Of course, this is just my opinion. As I have said before, “I was raised to believe in the power of rational debate to test ideas and discover truth.” The crazy optimism of this runs deep.
- When I started out, I knew it would be difficult to write about my own life. There’s plenty to write about, but I’m shy. I imagined that a gradual exposure of minor details would eventually acclimatise me to self-revelation, but it’s not happening so far.
- This leaves me with fiction. This is going well, I think, although I spend most of my time writing long fiction that I haven’t tried to blog. Nonetheless, this site is starting to have quite an interesting selection of material on it. I’ve spent a lifetime writing fiction that few people notice — why stop now?
If you are interested, below you can see my ten favourite stories (as at February 2020). Happy reading.
Ten favourite stories, in no particular order:
- Give this to Terry
- Pregnant girl
- Carcinoma of the sentence structure
- Death of a Bannister
- The story of the matches
- My story of Uncle Russell
- Second rate
And the one I would add if 10 was 11 is When you do the wrong thing, the feeling in your heart is indescribable, really