Archive for the ‘Blogging’ category

The Inconstant Gardener

August 17, 2007

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him (Genesis 41:8)


I had a strange dream last night.

Before we go much further with it, I should probably point out that I do not usually attach significant import to the feverish nocturnal activities of my brain. This one, however, was a spur to action.

I was in the dining room, with the curtains closed. Evidently, I had been there for some time. I was keeping the curtains shut for a reason, namely that I didn’t want to see what was outside in the garden. But part of me knew that, eventually, I would have to look.

Very gingerly, I nudged a small chink in the curtains, and saw that the garden had become rather overgrown. And not the sort of overgrown that arises from omitting the weekly once-over with the lawnmower. There was a mythical, grotesque abundance of greenery. Now, I usually adore greenery, and have often been known to deliberately cultivate weeds if I find them aesthetically agreeable. There was nothing pleasant about these, though. They were mouldy and fetid, and had grown to the height of the house.

Plant dreams are not a usual component of my somnial repertoire (usually they’re about fish) and as I made my way to work this morning, there could be no doubt of what the dream portended. It made me realise, like a bolt out of the blue, that I had left the Monologues untended for weeks, and that they were in danger of developing into some horrid spammy armpit in my absence. This, I realised, would not do.

Fret not. Your gardener is returned. Think of this post as a necessary lap with a Flymo and a pair of secateurs, and then we’ll be back in business. There is some catching up to do.


The Third Age

July 12, 2007


 Thank you for waiting so patiently. This post marks the (somewhat belated) arrival of Volume III, which (for all you mathematicians) means that we’ve entered the third quarter of The Hutchison Monologues. Game on.

I’m hoping that this quarter will represent a significant renaissance for the ‘Logues, which, it must be said, have suffered a sad neglect of late. Once you’ve not blogued for a significant length of time, it can be hard to get back into it. But I will try; not only to satisfy my philanthropic urges toward my reading handful, but also for my own questionable amusement.

I’ve just come back from a week in Oxford chez mes parents. A lovely holiday, all told. And (I thought) a justifiable break from bloguing, since (I thought) mes parents were sans internet capabilities.

I occasionally propagate a story about my parents’ internet capabilities. Specifically, I have been known to give the impression that, having not used it for six months, those helpful people at Freeserve disconnected them on the assumption that they had died. In reality, I don’t know whether it is Freeserve company policy to assume death after six months of online inactivity. But it seems sensible.

Anyway, imagine my horror when, on the final day of our sojourn, we were trying to piece together some arrangements for a homeward journey. Curious about train times, I suggested that I might phone national rail enquiries, to which my inestimable father responded ‘why not just check the website?’

With all the innocence we can only expect from bona fide Luddites, he had assumed that I had consciously chosen not to use his (actually very active) internet connection for a whole week.


Chuckles Vision

June 24, 2007

What’s the easiest way to invigorate a film, TV or literary franchise? You know the scenario: there comes a time when a good idea is strained to breaking point. For ideas that were initially mediocre, this point can arrive even sooner.  Thank you for bearing with me for the past six months, but I think the time is ripe for introducing a new character into this tragi-comic opera.

And so, without further ado, may I introduce you to Chuckles Hutchison?


 A fine specimen, and one whom I hope will prove a worthy inheritor of The Hutchison Monologues, in time. And of course, you can expect that the latter days of my own tenure at the ‘Logues will be peppered with Chuckles’ nascent adventures.

Working On It

June 22, 2007

You join me as I try to drag myself out of an unprecedented hiatus in bloguing. Yes, the blogue’s been on hold for a little while, but the masses (as is their wont) have been clamouring. Truth be told, my mind has been awash with blogue-fodder recently. Yet, somehow, putting finger to key has been something of an effort.

I’ve lived my life on the computer recently. You see, I am in the final throes of a thesis, which needs to be submitted on the 1st of August. You’ll know all about this, if you’ve been keeping up. It’s not going too badly. Today I managed to address (i.e. better conceal) a few methodological concerns. Yesterday was spent trying to shoehorn some new findings into a pre-written discussion. You should try it sometime.

Anyway, all this thesis chat will be boring for the likes of you. I need something to snag your interest.

Nothing’s coming.

I’ve been spending a bit of time refurbishing the cupboard under the stairs. From here on in, this will be the place from which I will update the ‘logues. So you can picture me at it, if that’s your thing. I’ve been in here for most the past week.

the-epicentre.jpgI’ve been thinking (as I do whenever I have a lengthy break from work) what it would be like not to have a job at all. To be terminally and voluntarily unemployed. If your plodding imagination needs a hand with this, why not imagine that you’ve scooped a preposterous windfall. A lottery win perhaps. Or maybe you’ve found some treasure. Go with what works. Now, imagine that you are now possessed of a suitable amount of wealth to sustain you until the end of your days. What do you do?

People probably fall into a couple of different camps here. You get the idealistic chumps who say it wouldn’t change their life, and they’d carry on just like before. That’s because they’re not doing their job for the money, they’re doing it for the satisfaction of developing themselves or helping others, or because it’s a pleasant way to pass the time.

Then there are those who’d leave their jobs in a shot, probably taking a moment to moon their colleagues on the way out.

As a contrary sort, I tend to number myself amongst the latter group when I’m at work. There are times when I can imagine nothing better than to live a life of unfettered leisure. I’ve been reading some poems by Philip Larkin recently, courtesy of line manager, Larkin-enthusiast, and some-time ‘logues commentator Wee Gorbals. Larkin was of the view that work was like a toad squatting on his life, polluting six days a week with its sickening poison. His poem Toads perfectly encapsulates his distaste for occupational activity.

But what’s the alternative? All the time I’ve been off this week, I’ve been fairly busy with my thesis. But what would I do once it was done? I suspect that I lack the imagination and drive to lead an interesting life of unemployment. I’d probably get up most days. Read a book, maybe. Ah, lunchtime. A DVD for the afternoon, perchance, followed by a walk to Tesco’s? Maybe tidy up a bit. Of course, there’d be no one around to talk to, since they’d all be at work. There’d be no excuse for leaving the blogue to lie dormant, I suppose, but would it be the sort of life that might make for a happy death-bed reminiscence? Not that that’s the be all and end all either, I guess. No one stays on their death-bed for long, after all.

Where was all this going? Nowhere very significant, really. I was just thinking out loud. My conclusion? Work is probably a good thing for me, because the sort of life I would lead without it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Give me your arm, old toad;
Help me down Cemetery Road.

Absolute Anonymity

April 27, 2007


You may have noticed (but probably not) that I’d put a new link amongst my blog recommendations. I suggest that you visit it. But not before you’ve read this post. That would just be rude.

I should probably warn you that the things you encounter on the site might not conform to your standards of taste and dignity. On more than one occasion I’ve been confronted with depictions of the unadorned female form. You will see things that are life-affirming, heartbreaking. This is a place where the depravity and dignity of humanity share a common stage.

The blog in question, of course, is Postsecret. It’s only technically a blog, really. It’s more like a regularly-replaced website. But one mustn’t quibble.

The raison d’etre of Postsecret is to provide a forum through which you can reveal your innermost secrets from behind a wall of anonymity. There’s something amusingly paradoxical about it: things that you wouldn’t tell a single person are paraded in front of the entire globe. Or rather, the small subset thereof who frequent the site.

I spend quite a lot of time listening to people’s secrets. It’s a real privilege. For most people, anonymity is very disinhibiting. Within minutes of meeting a person, I can be hearing about things that their nearest and dearest, who have known them all their lives, would never suspect in a million years. They feel they can tell me, because I’m ‘outside the situation’. I have no emotional investment in it.

In practice, though, my conversations with patients are usually pretty tame. Our agreement of confidentiality isn’t total, you see. There are instances in which I might have to break confidentiality, for example if people are in danger. People are probably wary of taking their discussions into Postsecret territory in case I should feel the need to reach for my Special Button Under The Desk.

A quick look at Postsecret will probably yield a mixed bag. Some confessions are mundane, self-indulgent whining. Others are outrageous, and it is difficult to see how someone could ever share them via the normal channels. It seems that the less chance you have of being found out, the more scandalous the revelations you are prepared to make.

Does Postsecret represent a glimpse of What Goes On Behind Closed Doors? Do we all have secrets like this? Or is it simply an outlet for the deviant few? Does it tell us anything about our society? Probably not. I get a strong whiff of the USA off of it, frankly. And how do we know that it isn’t the same handful of people writing in again and again? And, of course, how do we know if any of these statements are actually true?

It makes you wonder, though. Is there something that you have never divulged about yourself to anyone? If you had the guarantee of total, unconditional anonymity, what would you want to say?

All revelations are to be made via the comments facility. No one will mind if you set up a bogus email address for the purpose. Time to come out with it, I say. Spill your guts.

I am realistic enough to anticipate no response.

All Night Long

April 5, 2007


Greetings. Just reporting back on an excellent evening spent in the company of Mrs H and one L Richie.

Now, stop your tittering. It was excellent. The man has such an infectious enthusiasm for his music, that it is really difficult not to get involved. He exudes charisma and charm, and has quite a natty red silk shirt, I thought.

The concert was in SECC in Glasgow, just next to that Armadillo wotsit. Mrs H and I bumbled up several hours early (just in case) and had the chance to explore the vicinity. Despite the impressive venue, the surroundings offer very little. The whole place had the feel of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, albeit one containing an enormous stainless-steel placental.

There were rumours of a Harry Ramsden’s nearby, but it turned out that it was actually inside the auditorium, and could not be accessed until the show began. Bizarre. In the end, we settled for the gallery bistro across the way. The young lady who welcomed us looked a bit harrassed that we hadn’t booked, but after a quick glance around the deserted seating area, said she might just about squeeze us in.

The show itself was tremendous. Mrs H and I found ourselves happily ensconsed amongst the rotund middle-aged, and had a whale of a time. This really is music to make you happy. Some will decry its quality, sure, but from where I was standing you’d be hard pressed to top it. Sure beats all those morose guitar bands, anyway. And the inter-song banter was great as well – somewhere between The Two Ronnies and Mr Bean.

On a completely separate note, it’s been nice to see the resurrection of a certain one-time blogger. It’s good to have you back. Having seen the effect of a little persuasion, I thought that I would throw a couple of subliminal elements into this post in order to coax another blogger back out of the woodwork. I promise I’ve not forgotten about you.

Goodbye, Volume I

April 1, 2007

This is another one of those pesky retrospective posts. It’s just that, now we’re a quarter of the way through the year, it’s time to mark the passing of The Hutchison Monologues: Volume I. So long, farewell, we had some laughs. The royal we, that is.

Anyway, no time to be sentimental. Not with Volume II arriving to take its place. You will notice that Volume II looks a bit different. Not markedly, but different nonetheless. You will also notice (and undoubtedly make use of) the visitors’ book.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s not really Volume II in any real sense, since you will see the all-new Volume II header even when looking at the old Volume I archives. Look, stop spoiling things. We’ve a whole year to get through. Where’s the harm in a vague sense of progress?