What does one write when one has nothing to write?  More to the point, why does one write when one has nothing to write?  Money?  I wish!  Self-indulgence?  Perhaps, a smidgeon.  Therapy?  Definitely cathartic.  Naturally giving?  Of course!  OCD?  There it is!  I think I have mentioned before how I wrote a diary growing up; in fact, for most of my life.  Even now, I have a little one with a page/day and it is imperative – to me – that each is filled.  I remember, at university, how I would spend hours catching up the blanks in my life, trying desperately to recall my movements of the week before … and for what?  I have a tub filled with books documenting my years, which follows me everywhere.  I dip into one, from time to time, and I am, at once, transported back to halcyon days of innocence and hope – before I realised I, actually, didn’t live on Walton’s Mountain and The Famous Five lost their love for lashings of ginger beer!

Returning from my first drumming lesson in a while, earlier today, I was more than a little cheered.  Therapeutic or what?  It should be free on the National Health … another subject!  Anyway, the concentration involved in playing drums ensures the awakening of any dormant brain while the magic of muscle memory is uplifting.  I have never been able to read music.  When I say ‘able to’, perhaps that’s not entirely true: I never liked reading music and, therefore, I didn’t try.  When learning to play the piano in the dark ages – I could have been good, I might add – I would positively struggle through the music, start to finish, and then never look at it again!  In the same way that my sense of direction, when driving somewhere new, is non-existent, once there, the route is embedded in my memory and I have no need for any map or directions again.  Sorry?  What’s a map?  Very funny!  Put it this way, it is requiring of neither technology nor some hideous voice.  Eyesight?  Yep, got me there …

So, learning to play the drums has been enlightening in more ways than one.  My aversion to reading music – once more rearing its head – is, I realise, inherent in my character.  I hate being constrained; staying within the lines; following instruction.  As though having one’s wings clipped, it is, both, stifling and brain-numbing.  Thus, blessed with a one-take memory, I am hands-free; it is all stored and the drums are the perfect vehicle for improvisation – and expression.  Similarly, when it comes to cooking, I follow a recipe once then forever do my own thing.  Can I bake?  I’m sure I could but, requiring of military precision, it’s not for me.  No, rather, give me a set of sticks and a drum kit, tear up the music and I’m happy as Larry!  You know, just thinking about it, I’m prone to claustrophobia, I hate being told what to do or following instructions, I like to do my own  thing and I have a fear of deep water.  It’s all becoming clear!  In another life, I was a third-class citizen – a musically dyslexic servant subject to strict instruction – confined to the bowels of Titanic on her fateful journey. Of course, I believe in re-incarnation, who doesn’t?!

I can see this is developing into drivel so, continuing in a similar vein, permit me – if I may – to ask a question: is it just me or are dogs shrinking?  Seriously!  This is prime dog-walking land;  correction, prime toy dog-walking land and I feel as though I am smack bang in the middle of the invasion of the Maltese Poodle!  Did I miss something?  Yes, poos and doodles are everywhere and I am almost resigned to that – not happy but resigned – but Maltese Poodles?   Has there been a culling of proper dogs – Labradors and Retrievers, to name but two – or have the little green men in search of intelligent human life given up the ghost and taken them instead?  Walking on the beach, of late, the soundtrack is no longer that of waves lapping the sand.  Oh, no, it’s one of yapping toy dogs demanding of attention from their ‘macho’ owners.  Somehow, there can be little more emasculating than the sight of a man with a Chihauhau on the end of a lead …  Just me?  Just another sign of the times.

I have seen – and heard – the first of the wild geese flying south for winter (now, I call it escaping!).  Forever one of my favourite things, heralding the changing seasons, there is a lasting comfort in this, one of nature’s rituals; a constancy which is, at once, reassuring.  Meanwhile, the stubble fields, which I love, seem to have all but gone unnoticed as summer fades into autumn and the countdown to Christmas begins – much too early.  Reflecting a year lived rather than enjoyed, the months and seasons seem of little consequence in a world bowed by weariness; a weariness borne of stress, fear and a dearth of personal autonomy; a weariness borne of the loss of freedom.

Christmas represents a beacon of hope; something to look forward to, albeit three months early.  Of course, there are mountains to climb beforehand but the focus is firmly on a time when one can be together with family and loved ones, the outside world on pause.  Much needed respite from the gloom …  Take the fuel crisis, as of now.  Just another reason to panic as the tank reads empty.  Just another restriction; a reminder of the invisible chains.

The panic at the petrol pumps – downplayed and nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit, of course – has succeeded in side-lining COVID in the mainstream media, if only briefly.  For that, I am grateful.  However, an item on the ITV Lunchtime News today (28th) afforded a classic quote from the media-thirsty erstwhile GP who, clearly, prefers fame to her patients: none other than Dr Sarah Jarvis!  In context, the item was reporting the findings of a study, involving 27,000 children, the results of which reveal that younger children are considerably less willing to have the vaccine than those in the older age bracket.  Dr Jarvis’ opinion?  There is a correlation between deprived areas and vaccine hesitancy.  Suggesting what exactly?  No matter, it was the irony of her ensuing statement which floored me:

So, a clear call for young people to have the information in a format that makes sense to them.  The problem is, otherwise, they’ll get it from social media which, as we know, is notorious for providing either complete falsehoods or for only providing one side of the story.’

Straight from the horse’s mouth; her exact words.  Accusing Facebook of bias?!  Of course, she is entirely correct.  Facebook does only enable one side of the story but, ironically, it is her side.  More specifically, the side of those pro-vaccination; those who benefit financially from its use.  Put simply, Facebook employs fact checkers to censor anything which is termed ‘vaccine misinformation’ and that ‘misinformation’ represents the vital balanced narrative of those with no prospect of financial gain.  One question?  What are they so desperate to hide?  Well, aside from ‘the misinformation’ the fact checkers are employed to blockade, the fact that those very fact checkers, themselves, are funded by Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers of a COVID vaccine?!  One last question: how stupid do they think we are?!

Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.’

George Bernard Shaw

This is Trish, signing off.