I want to start with an apology.
I last wrote a blog (the one about railway cuts and racism) three weeks ago and I have been feeling guilty for at least the last two of those weeks that I haven’t managed to follow it up.
Not procrastination in this case, I genuinely have not had the time.
“Really Mr Hutchison? Can I call you Neil?
You mean to tell us that in the three weeks that have passed since your last blog, you have not had a single minute of free time? That you have not had even one opportunity to do some writing, that you instead chose to utilise for other “higher priority” activities?
Is it not closer to the truth to say that you lack the basic discipline required to maintain a blog of this nature?
I put it to you, sir, that you are a fraud! An imposter! A charlatan! I humbly suggest to the jury that this was always the likely outcome from the start of this endeavour, that the momentum of the early blogs was fuelled by the excitement of the novel and that this project, with you at the helm, was always destined to fizzle out long before completion!”
“Wow, that’s a bit harsh.
It’s only been three weeks. I’ve been busy. And who the fuck are you anyway, with your fancy italics? I said right at the start of this that I would enjoy writing and see where it goes. I never promised to post at a certain cadence or to a certain standard of writing. Fuck you and your jury of pricks.
Actually, wait there. You only exist in my head, don’t you? The jury, the court, the dock, the dude in the wig with the hammer?
How about I change the wig to a blue mohawk and the hammer to a toddler’s squeaky toy? How about I change the 12 stern faces of the jury to 12 smiles, nodding in encouragement during the case for the defence, rising in applause as I conclude? I will change the setting to the top of a Scottish hill, views of nothing but lochs and forests for miles around.
And you? You just slip away down the side of the hill, slowly retreating beneath the clouds, leaving me and my 12 new pals at the summit. Oh look, is that a case of Brooklyn Special Effects and a bucket of Chilli Heatwave Doritos over there? Don’t mind if I do, cheers!”
A wee insight into my head there. The italics dick is not usually as easily defeated. If only I was able to clownify him in such a way whenever I choose. Like a Super Mario end-of-level baddie, he has a team of sidekicks that have to be eliminated before he can be challenged. So, by the time you get to the main dude, you are down to your last couple of lives and he just swats you aside with his massive stone hand or twirly cabbage hat.
It was not my intention to write a blog of this nature. I sat down to write about the fact that I have visited a further eight bridges since my last missive on that topic (including the imaginatively-named Tweed Bridge in Innerleithen, pictured above). But this has turned into something different, so I think I’ll save the bridge chat for the next one (are you noticing a theme emerging here?!)
Why do I put myself through this thought process? What benefit does it yield? I must have learned to do this to myself, or had it passed down to me through my genes.
I think that Scott would have identified with this. We were not the same person of course, but like with any pair of siblings, there was overlap in our personalities – flaws and all. I think we both had a tendency to be harsh on ourselves.
In Scott’s case, he was able to channel this into the high standards that he set himself in his creative exploits. He learned this ability from the connections he made during his creative education – teachers, classmates, critics and fans. The other edge of that sword, of course, was an underlying sense of failure, no matter how many people he had singing his songs back to him on a nightly basis.
Of course, I would give anything to be able to go back and give him a shake, tell him how wonderfully imperfect he was, convince him that the voice putting him down was a fabrication of his own mind.
But I can’t do that any more than I can go back in time and write this blog two weeks ago as planned.
All I can do is look after myself, keep pushing the internal naysayers away and try to help my kids to learn self-compassion.
And we can all do our bit here. Be kind to yourselves and to the people you meet. It makes the world a better place to be.
Enjoy that bucket of Doritos – you’ve earned it.