I’m a saint. I really am. Never am I deterred from looking up big words in the dictionary. Like a successful scalawag, I drag my arse out of my reading chair (and, yes, I have one of these) and fox trot over to the dictionary without an ounce of guilt that I am in some way inferior because a word can stump me. I am only daunted by the knowledge that the chair’s cushions are now never going to be in the same comfortable position they once were. With this sad truth, I grovel my way back, the new word I’ve learnt blessing my downcast head.
I’m a bonny lad when it comes to books. No, really, I am. Go right now to any window and look out like Walter Mitty and you will see me skipping up a hill of books, the sky full of the beaming faces of authors, the wind like a ripple of words first read in the thrill of reading. And I am not alone, either. Note the multitude of grazing sheep. And also note the lack of a shepherd. This is important. Because books may become a religion, but Jesus, let’s not invent a saviour for them and let’s certainly not invent a godhead to unjustly rule our every emotion and thought.
I’m also an international playboy. Let me explain this one: I read lots of European literature. And, yes, translated into English. I’m no polyglot or aspire to be one. I still struggle with English whenever I sit down to write and the words that end up on the page shrivel up and die. How, I ask myself, can words fail a writer so much? Without words, what am I? But even with words sometimes, I am less of a writer than I was without words. How, I wonder, would a surgeon work if someone took the body away?
And I am a petty thief. A minor criminal misfit with no real record but a lot of peccadillos. But, I could take the Kray twins. I could tattoo myself from head to toe. I could get street cred. I could spout the lingo. And I’m ready to make a stab in the dark and make a killing.
“A writer is like a medium who, when he comes out of his trance, is amazed at what he’s said and done.” Henry Miller