Happy New Year
I’m a bit slow off the mark with the New Year greetings, what with the wise men having been and gone and all but what the heck, Happy New Year to you. It’s going to be a good one. New Year’s resolutions? Well, I thought about giving up caffeine and I thought about giving up alcohol and I thought about giving up chocolate and I thought about giving up bread (that was absolutely the shortest thought) and then I thought, why would I do that? So instead of giving up I’m giving in (again): to writing and to reading and to listening and to talking and to walking and to sitting and to being fully immersed in a creative life. There are a number of exciting projects coming up this year but I’ll tell you about those later. (Settle yourself, it’s only January, too much excitement early on could wear you out entirely.) But here’s a thing or two to keep you going over the next couple of weeks.
The 8th Annual Out to Lunch Arts Festival is now well underway in Belfast with music, talks, readings, comedy, performances and exhibitions continuing until January 27th. I am thrilled to get the chance to hear poets Paul Durcan and Tom Paulin read at lunchtime events in The Black Box in the next few days. A lunchtime reading is one of my absolute favourite things to do. You get to sit in the dark with a bunch of strangers in the middle of the day with a fork in one hand and a glass in the other, all of you pointed in the same direction, at a voice that wants to move you or tickle you or provoke you or soothe you, and no-one stabs anyone else with a prong or complains that their bowl is smaller than their neighbour’s. And afterwards, you can go outside feeling thoroughly decadent because it’s still light (or grey, at least) and you can be home in time for your tea and lie in front of the telly all evening if you want, having fully discharged your cultural duty for the day. It may in fact be one of the foremost activities of the civilised world. If you have a free lunchtime and you’re in Belfast I’d urge you to come along to something. Tickets are reasonably priced and often include food. (Athough I do feel it behoves me to point out here that, controversially, some of the events don’t even happen at lunchtime at all...) If we didn’t have the Out to Lunch Festival we’d be moaning about how this city doesn’t have something like an Out to Lunch Festival. Support it if you can.
I have made one resolution. I’m conducting a little internet experiment. For the most part, I’ve switched off the Comments facility on this blog. There’s a good reason for this. Actually, there’s about two hundred and fifty reasons for this a day and they’re all called (what’s the polite word?) ‘spam’. I’ve been trawling through them daily, bombarded with exhortations to look at this replica Prada, to love these Louis Vuitton handbags, to not take another breath until I get my hands on a cheap North Face jacket, and those are the most savoury of them. And oh, how I’ve learnt. In the beginning my heart would beat a little faster when my eye fell on, ‘Wow, I really love your blog!’ Now those are the first to go in the junk pile since every single last one of them is trying to sell me something.
There are of course a few genuine comments from time to time and I’m very, very grateful for those. What I have found, is that those tend to appear within a day or two of the blog first being posted so I’m leaving a little comment window open for a few days and then, if the spam begins to build up again (and I reckon it will, unless I’ve somehow cunningly managed to slip under the radar by switching it off intermittently) I’m gonna slam that window shut! You can of course get in touch quietly via the Contact form here if you wish. The message will come straight to me and it won’t be made public. And of course, you have the right to remain silent. Most of the time, that’s what I like to do too. The world needs listeners as well as talkers. Happy 2013 to you one and all.