It’s not that long ago that I wrote in this blog about being retired and becoming a writer, yet here I am again writing about the very same ambition. I must be serious. The truth is this ambition rises and falls, mostly falls, depending on any vague sign or portent that crosses my path. I couldn’t call it in any way proactive, it’s a purely reactive response, which isn’t like me at all, I’ve always been known as a planner / goal setter. But not any longer, at least in regard to this particular retirement area. Shame really because, as I’ve written before, being a writer was what I thought my retirement, in large part, would be about. I was going to say, now I content myself with writing this blog twice a week, except when Mrs Summerhouse helps out as she does a couple of times a month. I was going to say, ‘content myself’, but these are words that sit uneasily in the same sentence for me. I’m rarely content about anything but that’s not the point. So what is the point?
I’ll try and explain why this writing business is on the agenda again so soon after the last one. Last Monday was the day of the Pateley show. It’s the last country fair / show of the season and a very big deal for the town of Pateley Bridge. We don’t go every year but if we’re here and the weather is fine (by no means always the case) one of us will pay our £12 and take a look. I do sometimes wonder why because what’s on offer rarely changes. Cows, sheep, pigs, hens, horses of all varieties, more cows, more sheep, dogs and llamas, yes llamas, farm machinery of all kinds and on and on. It’s nice but it’s predicable. I suppose that’s the point really, you don’t want to turn up to a farming show and be told no we haven’t bothered with any animals this year, we thought we’d do boats and interior design. No, that wouldn’t go down well at all among the country folk who also look the same every year – two main groups – the horsey set and dales farmers and a few hangers-on like me. That’s three, never mind.
One of those very predictable parts of the show, same tent, same place, maybe even same people is a display from The Dalesman magazine. A charming little periodical (see above) which describes itself as ‘Britain’s top-selling regional magazine’, maybe aided in this by the fact that Yorkshire is England’s biggest county although not as big as it was before the government took away parts of the East Riding, but I digress. The point is that I like this tent because it every year gives away a free, yes, a free copy of The Dalesman magazine. Admittedly it is July’s edition, this is Yorkshire after all and as they say of Yorkshire man and no doubt women as well, a Yorkshire man is a Scots man with the generosity taken out. I take my copy, thank the lady and move on before she can take it back, this being Yorkshire. I do a quick trawl around the rest of the show. I buy a second hand copy of Dracula from the Harrogate Diabetes stall, a neat touch that I think me being diabetic. I refrain from telling them I have diabetes, really, how very interesting, put my £1 in the tin, no point going crazy with the donation, this is Yorkshire after all. I also buy 25 dwarf tulips for £3.50, think again about buying a second-hand tractor, there are plenty at the show but I’ve already been offered one by the farmer where we dump our garden waste. God, I’d love a tractor but I can’t quite work out how I would explain to Mrs SH what I’d bought. Hard enough explaining why I’ve bought another guitar or, as it was with the last purchase, a drum set, but the words, hullo dear, guess what I’ve bought, it’s an absolute bargain, it’s in the drive, blocking it in fact, don’t sound good even to me. Anyway I digress – again. Instead I buy a coffee, watch a little cricket and then head home for breakfast made by Mrs SH as compensation for leaving me to eat a Kit Kat for Saturday’s breakfast.
After breakfast I start to read my free copy of The Dalesman. On page 5 they have an advert for, quote, ‘New books from Dalesman’, the magazine’s very own publishing company. They are advertising three books all with a distinct Yorkshire flavour (e.g. A Likely Tale, Lad and 101 Uses for a Yorkshireman’s Wallet) which is fair enough, and no, they are not free. A little worm of an idea plants itself in my head. Would they be interested in publishing my vineyard blogs as a book, I wonder? This section of my blog has somewhere around 36,000 words, with another 4 blogs maybe that would take me to 40,000 which, as I remember, is about enough for a decent size book. There’s no doubt it would have a definite Yorkshire flavour to it and might just appeal to them…
But then all my previous rejections from publishers float back to haunt me. I couldn’t say they were all rejections because that would suppose they bothered to reply at all, which the last one I tried, didn’t. Can I even be arsed to fire off an email? I don’t know, I really don’t. The thing about being retired is this ‘the devil making work for idle hands’ business. True I’m not at all idle but I can’t help but think that before I retired I wouldn’t have had time for such foolishness. Now I’m retired there’s plenty of room in my head for pointless notions.
So yet another blog about my frustrated ambition to become a writer now I’m retired. I wondered when I started it (I’ve confessed before that I have very little idea before I start writing how the blog is going to turn out) whether my Pateley show and free Dalesman experience would provide sufficient material for yet another blog. Now we know, I think the answer might be – just. Retirement, land of opportunity.