I want to pause and share some of the things I’ve learnt this year. It will certainly be quicker than trying to recall the things I’ve forgotten:

Some blokes like Guy Martin have a shed and mend things in it. Men apparently need their cave, even if they can’t find anything in it without a woman. Those men without a shed, or even a garden, will always find it somehow. Writing is the mental shed, only you don’t smash your head on the door beam every time you go in. At least not on the good days. Writing a weekly blog is basically the modern equivalent of chopping wood, or skinning animals, only it makes less mess (if you’re doing it properly), feeds & warms no one, and is an available option for supporters of animal rights. There’s little point in attempting to recreate your own childhood for your children’s’ benefit. They already need little enough encouragement to think you lived in the dark ages. Besides, the lack of seat belts is now illegal, and ice inside their bedroom windows only causes the frames to rot, which you’ll have to fill. I’ve learnt that writing uses words, but is actually all about numbers.* how many words have I written.* how many words have I deleted* how many people have read my blog in the last 5 seconds since I last looked. Sadly hard work and perseverance brings success. I always feared this to be the case, but having people possibly interested in my novel after five years of writing it annoyingly confirms that nothing comes easy, apart from pizza leaflets and somehow always joining the longest supermarket queue. Hilary Mantell’s Wolf Hall is utterly unreadable, mainly due to the proliferation of Thomas’ in it, which as a Thomas myself is not a criticism I ever thought I’d throw at a book. The magic is all in the editing. I used to think you wrote as one person, in one moment of time. In fact you’re correcting what you said years ago. It’s like having a script editor improving what you’re saying four years after people stopped listening. There’s big difference between having a healthy hedge, and a healthy hedge fund. I’ve recently learnt that you don’t need friends in Sydney posting daily Bondi pictures to Facebook. Doesn’t anyone in Australia work? Likewise, the temperature in Florida is on a need to know basis, and sadly all I need to know is the wind chill factor of the North-by-North Easterly gale that’s currently bending my fuchsias to the lawn. From November onwards the word ‘freezing’ is overused by people lacking the vocabulary to discern between chilly, cold and nippy. If they ever find themselves in genuine arctic conditions they’ll be stymied by the inability to explain what’s happening even before the frostbite gets them. It’s always important to check when texting that you’ve not accidentally enquired if your parents are fucked up nicely in bed, as opposed to tucked up. A novel should have 20 names on the cover. Some of which will be friends, family, sympathetic ex-bosses, and producers of beer. Just because words can be put together doesn’t mean they should be. He is the most polite torso in Pop, and the first choice for turning on Telford’s Christmas lights, but the words Peter Andre and Frank Sinatra covers album should never be on the same page, much less the same sentence. It’s hard to know how little we knew before the Internet. I’m unashamed to admit to spending the late 80s researching what the hell Sussidio meant. I had Phil Collins to thank for this. Before the Internet this sort of thing could take days, year, even entire careers. I learnt to let it go. Some things aren’t worth knowing. Google became such an addiction that I distracted myself from it by writing novel. I’d like the moment that the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett is introduced to reality to be filmed for posterity. I’ve covered it already on my blog about it being the worst film ever made, but Peter Jackson recently said he didn’t know what he was doing on the last Hobbit film. No shit Sherlock. I’ve seen hurricane winds with more narrative structure than that sprawling aimless mess of a film. It’s £10 for three and half hours I’ll never get back. Other than a good blowjob, there are few better examples of delayed gratification than planting daffodil bulbs. When seeing Alexander O’Neil in your local town hall, don’t be surprised if he’s late. He’s not had a hit since 1988, so he’s little off form. It’s also always best to ensure a stage invasion doesn’t result in more people on stage than left in the audience. To be fair, this should appear on Alexander O’Neil’s ‘What I have learnt’ blog. The diet option to Coke is not Diet Coke, but water.

This post was previously published on www.lifeassistanceagency.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

Photo credit: Istockphoto.com

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