Biting the bullet


Sunday, 15 February 2004

I’ve resisted this for so long. By God, I’ve resisted it. What do I know about writing a blog? I don’t even keep a diary. Well, if I am honest, I keep a small black organiser on my bedside cabinet in which I write important dates such as birthdays, medical appointments and meeting reminders, but that book is just a memory prompt and not the self-indulgent catalogue of daily thoughts and reflections that would constitute a diary in the strictest sense of the word.
You see, I have never been a diary keeper for three reasons.

First, I am far too easily frustrated to the point of belligerent childishness when engaging in any form of routine activity that must be strictly adhered to. Although I like to pretend that this is the product of a rebellious nature, if truth be told it owes more to idleness than deliberate defiance.

Second, as the British politician Enoch Powell once famously stated, ‘to write a diary every day is like returning to one's own vomit’. I sympathise with these words entirely because the human desire to document heartaches, tragedies and misfortunes never fails to mystify me. Surely some painful memories are best buried deep within the subconscious and forgotten over time rather than revisited time and time again like a sadomasochistic teenager scratching at a weeping sore? I was once reliably informed by a freshly divorced and exceptionally emotionally unstable friend that, on the contrary, keeping a diary is a safe and effective method for venting deep-seated frustrations and coping with troublesome emotions and she assured me that both psychiatrists and white witches alike recommend this form of emotional exorcism. Other diary-keepers tell me that the rationale behind their habit is not an intention to banish unpleasant memories but to preserve happy memories that would otherwise be forgotten over time so that they can relate these stories to their children or reminisce over past events with old friends in future years. I can appreciate this nostalgic sentiment, but who honestly wants to hear the self-loathing, adolescent ramblings of their now middle-aged friends? And who wants to know the name of the random boy that their mother slept with on her 18th birthday?

Third and finally, I am not a writer but a musician and while the articulation of emotion through musical performance comes fairly intuitively to me, I often struggle to portray the same emotions when expressing myself using the written word. For instance, if I feel sad then I can play a piece of music that will allow you to share directly in my sadness. If I am elated, then I can play a piece that will lift your spirits. The expression of sentiment is a fairly straightforward process when I am presented with a piano keyboard, but I have discovered, to my horror and to the horror of my former English teachers, that it is not so simple when I am presented with a computer keyboard.

Given my profound aversion to the self-indulgent inclinations of the diarist and my own shortcomings when articulating my emotions in prose, it is embarrassing to admit that I have been forced to swallow my pride recently and start keeping a diary or, more precisely, an online blog. This decision has been prompted by a series of extraordinary events that have taken place over the last couple of months and, since I have a terrible memory and I suspect that there will be many more surprises to follow, I intend to record every detail of these incidents in the true spirit of the diary keeper over the next few months, or however long it takes for me to get bored with this. And I have chosen to write in the form of a public blog rather than a personal diary because I believe that my posts may prove interesting to others who, like me, have an appetite for mysterious secrets and arcane knowledge and they may find my ramblings to be enlightening and informative. 

Perhaps I should begin by introducing myself. I am Helen, a third-year undergraduate student studying for a BA in Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. I do not consider myself to be a religious individual by any means but I have an academic interest in religious matters and I play the pipe organ for church services - weddings, funerals and the occasional Eucharist mass - in order to fund my studies at the university. It may not be the trendiest or most exhilarating job in the world but it certainly beats working in some of the pubs and bars around here, that’s if you can stomach the creepy coffins and gushing brides…