Opinion Pieces One (A difficult morning)
Patton Oliver, public intellectual, awoke on the morning of Friday the 23rd of October to find himself without any opinions. He did not notice this at first of course. He didn’t usually connect with his opinions until after he had made the bed and had breakfast. So for nearly forty minutes he rehearsed his morning routine in blissful ignorance that the well from which he drew his inspiration and his pay
cheques had run dry.
That morning he was, as usual, slightly hungover but after his second cup of artisan coffee he was ready to start his day’s work. His writing day began with his blog. He could work ideas out on the blog without being too concerned about the smaller details of quality and he could mine the blog for material for newspaper articles, radio and TV interviews, books of essays etc. He could search his own blog for any subject and find material of his own to recycle if it were helpful. It was a beautiful personal archive that followed him around in a digital cloud. What a wonderful time to be alive.
He went to his small but beautifully designed office and sat before his mac. He closed his eyes and took some deep breathes. He slowed his mind down to the point where ideas could usually bubble up to the surface. Something political..
“The illusion of the left wing in politics is that we can all just stop, that society can be idealised out of context and history.
The illusion of the right is that we all start at the same place and that there is a thing called human nature and it is simple and explainable.”
No, that was too weak and even handed. He needed an angle, something he could get his teeth into. Something people could position themselves for or against.
He closed his eyes again.. nothing, except a little itch on the left side of his nose.
Ok, another cup of strong coffee would get the brain firing.
Back at the computer he opened his blog and typed “politics” into its search engine. 4,587 results were returned. Then the screen began to be populated with page after page of examples of his own opinion pieces. He closed the web browser and stood up. That was too much information, too confusing. He didn’t know why but he didn’t want to deal with it just now this morning.
Fine, it was still early in the day. He went into his bedroom to hang. This meant literally hanging. He held a bar in the doorway which he hung from every day. He hopped up and took the bar with both hands and lightly engaged his midsection and pulled his shoulder blades back and down. This was good for the back. He hung there for nearly two minutes. He hesitated between office and kitchen for a moment before deciding to make himself another coffee.
After the coffee he walked slowly, without enthusiasm into the office and sat down.., then stood up. Ok, it was time to get some air.
Outside it was cool and bright, a very pleasant early winter morning. There was a nice park near his apartment and he did a couple of turns around that before going for another cup of coffee, which by now was definitely too many coffees. In the coffee shop he had an idea. When he had been younger and building his career he had often bought all the major newspapers and just read through them to find something he could riff off for material. He went to the newsagent on the way home and bought The Times, The Mail, The Mirror, The Independent, The Guardian, The Sun. He arrived back to his office with a lot of paper and a good deal of hope.
He spread the papers out in front of him. First thing he could see, a lot about a new James Bond movie. Well there must be something in that. So many ways to take it. There must be buttons worth pushing on the feminism/sexism side of things. You just can’t beat a Bond Girl. Oh now there was a title he could do something with, “You just can’t beat a Bond Girl”. That would get attention, a lot of attention. There was something in the Mail about the pros and cons of dressing like a prostitute as far as he could see and perhaps he could get those two topics to link up.
“Right,” Patton thought, “here we go.”
But nothing happened. The words just weren’t coming.
He had a look at the Mail to find something about immigrants. There it was on the front page- “Back Door To Britain”. So this was about a loophole in the law that might allow immigrants reaching Cyprus to apply there for asylum in Britain. Oh, what hadn’t been said about this dismal and depressing topic. He needed another coffee.
Bacon was a cancer risk apparently and wasn’t there something else in the news recently about pigs. No that was too obvious.
Tax credit cuts, Johan Cruyff has lung cancer, something about Mothercare, a possible Sugar Tax, fat children were always good, David Cameron pictured having a pint with Xi Jinping, high profile soccer players poised to come out as gay, the Cambridge spies and the Krays…
So much material, so much good stuff to mine and yet he couldn’t do it. Rather, he could easily do it, usually, but right this moment his head was spinning and it was all too much. He felt like he needed a rest, or a coffee maybe.