Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Hello… a couple of regulars have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet on here and on Twitter, and have asked if I’m all right (thanks Romantic Recluse for your very nice message on a different thread). Awkward, isn’t it, to be going through a phase of slight uncommunicativeness when the world has gone so communicatory; it notices much more and much quicker than it did in the days when one just didn’t leave a calling card for a couple of weeks, or failed to slip any letters into the postman’s saddle bag.
But it’s also nice, to feel a community of people noticing an absence or presence, and worrying if you’re all right. A lot of people say that mobile phones / Twitter / Facebook etc encourage massive over-communication, that ten million halfwits are constantly throwing trivial or pointless statements at each other that needn’t be made. There’s a Philip Roth quote (or technically, I think, a Nathan Zuckerman quote by Philip Roth), “What do all those people have to say to each other, that they didn’t have to say twenty years ago?”
It’s a common idea: that we wasted less time in the past, that we were classier for saying less and communicating only face to face. I think that’s rubbish. I think we always wanted to communicate with each other, it just used to be harder. People were probably lonelier. I think the multiple communities of which we can now dip in and out, the immediacy of contacting people by mobile, makes the world more comforting, more connected and warmer. The internet may be less satisfying, in terms of human contact, than a night out with a group of friends - but not everybody has a group of friends. Not everybody feels constantly social. I say the internet is better than nothing. A lot better than nothing. God knows what loneliness, depression or bereavement must be like for people who don’t play poker.
Anyway, the fact is, RR and other concerned virtual friends, I’m not having the greatest time at the moment. Moving house is as stressful as they say, and what with one thing and another, it turned out not to be the ideal time to dump myself and all my possessions in a completely alien new environment. Even if it does have lovely wallpaper.
Plus I’m a bit short of sleep. That never helps.
So, you know, I may not be the most energetic and capable and lively I’ve ever been throughout recorded history. And I hate it when I go all inefficient and useless, most annoying. But hey, as Freddie advised me in the casino the other night, “Try sleeping in a cardboard box under London Bridge for a few nights, then go back to your new flat and we’ll see how ‘lonely’ you are.”
I’m sure I’ll feel better when I’ve had more sleep and a bit of time has passed. It is quite hard to communicate in a public space when feeling a bit depressed & exhausted in spirit - I’ve always very much stuck with the system that the “I” in print is a very different person from the real one. In my writing (newspaper columns) the printed “I” usually shares most of my opinions, I don’t tend to take a controversial view for the sake of it, but it’s still someone different from me. I’m not a Liz Jones type of confessor (though I rather admire her). My poker book is a very honest thing, but that’s a memoir; it’s a level of honesty in the personal detail which would feel weird in a newspaper where people might happen across it by reluctant accident on their eager way to the crossword. A blog or a Twitter can blur the margins in a way I haven’t quite mastered yet: it’s a public place, there are strangers looking, but sometimes some of them can feel like friends as well. I wrote a really gloomy blog a year or so ago about a row I’d had with a friend and a few other friends told me I probably shouldn’t be sharing that kind of thing and they were probably right. In general, I think it’s not a place for too much sharing. So I’ve been a bit quiet. But I was touched by messages asking if I was okay and I didn’t want to be silent, it seemed ungrateful.
I am all right. And whenever I think I’m not, I know I will be. No more gloomy blogs after this, it will be only chipper reports from poker tournaments or the set of Only Connect and nobody will ever know what sort of mood I’m in… which I think is surely the most appropriate thing, but I shall put this blog up in response to the nice questions and it was very kind of you to ask.
EDIT: PS. Have just had an email from my friend Tony Bloom. Forget whatever problems I think I have and please read the new blog post above this one. It knocks all my stupid self-pity into perspective, makes me realize I am basically fine and reminds me to thank God for the problems I don’t have. Please read, and send the link to anyone you know who lives, works or socializes near this area.