Autobiography

Some years ago now a friend showed me chapters of an autobiography she was writing, and very good they were too. She said I should give it a go and eventually I did. But unlike her I had no aptitude for it. I began well enough, Hello, my name is Rod and I was born at an early age. But I wasn’t capable of keeping it going. More accurately, I was capable, technically, but completely lacked the motivation to do it. At root, I found myself boring. And if I failed to interest myself, why would I interest anyone else?

A few bright episodes came to mind, especially concerning my travels in Iran, Afghanistan and their aftermath. For instance, when I was finally released from the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Belgrade, a member of staff drove me to the UK Embassy prior to catching a train the following morning. One of his first acts was to drive the wrong way up a one-way street, and while he was at it hoped I would understand that he had a wife and children. Good for him, I thought. But it turned out he was afraid I would contaminate his family with infectious hepatitis. To eliminate this non-existent risk, he put me up for the night in an embassy outhouse, where I slept in a roll of carpet and was wakened with the lark by field telephone.

But if we included events like that in a novel, who would believe us? In any case, taking all such stories together, a string of narrative pearls though it might be, nothing came close to a continuous narrative. I was reminded of a description I had once seen of Berlioz’ Damnation of Faust, which someone had compared to reading Faust by lighting. So how about a succession of dramatic episodes? But that also failed to get me going. Writing biography would be a different matter altogether, provided the subject was of interest.

What follows from this?

Firstly, I think that those bloggers who are most successful are those who take themselves as their subject. Not only do they let strangers into their lives, they open the door and usher them in. If they could offer them refreshments they would. Not everyone can do this, though. I don’t have what it takes.

Secondly, those of us who write fiction give ourselves away all the time. I obviously can’t prove this, it is merely what I think. And some will reveal their hand more than others. I would say I reveal my hand quite a bit. In fiction there is usually an element of self-description at one remove. The reader can infer various things about the writer even if he does not divulge the name of his cat.

 

Rent a Cat

It became clear recently that we have a mouse problem bordering on an infestation. The only one I got a clear view of was a harvest mouse, so the rest probably are too – coming in to the eaves out of the cold.

Being methodical in your thoughts doesn’t necessarily help much. How did they get in? Well, experts tell us that they can ooze through incredibly small holes. One expert I watched on Youtube said he used a Biro as a test. If he could stick his pen into a hole a mouse could get through it. So the possibilities are several. We need ventilation under the floor boards. If we don’t have it we risk wet rot leading to dry rot – a much more serious problem than mice. So we can’t just go around blocking off the vents. A fine mesh is required which will let air in and keep those pesky mices out.

And then there is entry underneath the bottom row of slates directly above the gutters. I have sealed a few obvious holes with metal wool but Biro-sized holes? There is no way I could find them all let alone seal them.

So I have been trying live traps, intending to remove these troublesome creatures to a safe distance when caught. But I’m still waiting to catch one.

Some might suggest poison, but I am very reluctant to go down that route. Firstly, it’s no way to die. And secondly, if the mouse dies in the wrong place you are afflicted by a very bad smell for two to three weeks. Is this really what we want? My wife tells me it is not.

So yet again I fall back on fantasy. There must be an agency out there, Rent A Cat, which will provide a feline for a few days at reasonable cost, a feline which – unlike me – will be able to traverse the eaves, yea even unto the small nooks and crannies, and rid me of these troublesome rodents.

If there isn’t, well, I have identified a market niche and can rush to apply for a business development grant – something which I like to think must exist in these entrepreneurial times.