On this particularly cold morning recently I left the Ottermobile and was sitting at the bus stop, where I was joined by a lady wearing a woolly hat and a moustache. She said I looked “starved to death” and I couldn’t deny it. She then asked what I was doing and I replied, without irony, that I was waiting for a bus. I couldn’t deny that either. Nor could I deny that the pie I was eating contained pork. The only truth I withheld is that it was stolen.
I was off to sign on. It’s a fortnightly treat I dread, and even more so nowadays when they’re asking me to broaden my jobsearch and attend courses such as How to Write a CV. I knew these days would come. And I knew the days would come when I’d be applying for jobs not in my usual field. Which is why I haven’t been blogging, because applying for a job is a full-time job.
But on a rare day off from applying for jobs and being turned down and learning how to write a CV, I thought I’d turn to this diary and write a little something there.
I’ve received quite a number of messages asking where I’ve been and if I’m OK. The vast majority of these are from people who’re genuinely concerned, as opposed to the people wishing to knit at the guillotine. I’m aware that my recent posts have been less than optimistic, and some caring readers have said I’ve moved them to tears so I should reassure them that despite all the hardship I’m doing alright. As I said last time, I’m happy and I know it and I really want to show it.
I suppose in a way it’s like a soap opera, where I provide a “hook” that makes my readers desperate to know what happens next. It’s vitally important that we keep our audience guessing and of course wanting to tune into the next episode, so the “hook” is something that makes soap opera story writers toss and turn at night. I guess my “hook” is brilliant in that my readers wanted to know whether I survived the recent chill.
Well I did, which to some would be “false jeopardy”. “False jeopardy”, another soap term, means that we have a character metaphorically dangling from a clifftop (hence the term “cliffhanger” which has now become the “hook”) at the end of an episode, then starting the next episode with his or her immediate rescue. To “pay this off” so soon would be “false jeopardy” and therefore a let-down to the audience who prefer to see him or her suffer a little longer, or indeed if they don’t care at all, fall to his or her violent death.
The problem with this, I always argued, is that all dramatic jeopardy is false because it’s by definition a drama, a fiction, an episode of make-believe. In other words, nobody truly believes it’s real, what they care about most is that it’s entertaining and they wouldn’t want story teams to toss and turn at night because they know damned well it’s all false anyway, jeopardy or otherwise.
Real life, of course, isn’t make-believe. But it does provide all its characters with problems to overcome, wrongs to right and lives to save. I recently needed saving and, thankfully, my saviour or saviours arrived and gave me shelter. As I said before, most of my audience will be delighted and relieved to hear this, while others might grumble that it was all “false jeopardy.” They’d much rather I’d perished because that’s a better story over which to knit a Christmas jumper or a woolly hat.
Anyway, to those who really do care I owe a massive thanks, and I will be writing a heartfelt tribute to them in my final post in the next few days, which is something I want to take my time over because I want to get it right. I say final because the Ottermobile has been abandoned and it would therefore be “false” to call these writings Adventures from the Ottermobile.
Perversely I think it’s a pity because I’ve enjoyed writing this stuff; I’ve tried to be funny, entertaining, and sometimes I know it’s been silly but it’s always been the truth. And I always have to write, because that’s what I do, or maybe I’ll get the hang of doing a CV and bag a job in a warehouse instead. Who knows what’s around the corner? That’s our “hook”.
But for the sake of my life I should call it a day, hold a gloved hand up and confess that 250 days on a van is quite enough and it’s time to look to my saviours and thaw my frozen bones. Then next time I’m in the bus shelter and I meet the woman in the woolly hat and moustache, I’ll hopefully tell her I’m going to be OK.