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Love Letter

7 August 2000
Neil writes.

"All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes"
Tom Waits, 9th & Hennepin

I told you I'd write. I guess I must be a man of my word. It's actually something I'm quite good at; relatively speaking, of course. Better than I am at phone calls: I have real problems with phone calls. The initial moments are the worst: dialling the number, waiting for the ringing to be answered, uttering that first greeting or enquiry or request, making that first communication. But even after that it's sudden death: one of you has to constantly have something to say or it's all over. Chatting to someone in person makes reasonable allowances for the odd silence here and there, acceptable pauses to slurp tea, collect thoughts, feign interest in the newspaper clippings pinned to the wall. But on the phone if more than a few seconds tick by without any action that's it: you go staright to thanks for calling, I'll see you soon, bye.

But letters I can do: there's no pressure, no need for spontaneity, no sudden panic as I realise I should be marshalling my thoughts to make a reply when all my thoughts consist of is the fact that I should be marshalling them. I can take my time, gestate, let it gradually form in my mind; not necessarily in any coherent form: a phrase here, a topic there, I can put it in order later, re-arrange it, cross things out. there's no need for my brain to work quickly, I can think about it whilst I'm making a cup of tea or just let it form in my mind over the course of a day with no conscious effort at all, and then I can write it down and check it and change it completely until I'm ready to send it off, perfectly formed.

That awkward factor of impulse is almost completely negated, which makes me blurt things out, stupid and crass, anything to fill the silence or make me seem like I have something to say. and for once I have a void into which to speak, a blank page which won't interrupt or swing off at a tangent before I've finished what I have to say, won't bulldoze through when it grows impatient of failing to follow the falteringly expressed opinions. Freedom of Expression, that's what writing is to me; somehow the logically conceived and passionately held beliefs which make so much sense in my mind and turn into such stuttering gibberish en route to my mouth, regain their dignity and cohere on the screen, self-belief building alongside the lines of carefully crafted clauses tacked onto one another.

I have the same tools at my disposal. the same words, rhetorical devices, shades of nuance, as if I's speaking to you: but whereas then they would shift, slip and tumble with a mind of their own, somehow now I am the master. Each word has implications, a whole sheet of resonance beyond its simple meaning, and if on impulse the wrong one falls out, even if the information it conveys is superficially the same, its implicit associations could disrupt everything I was trying to say to you. This way I can be sure that every word is right, hand-picked, thoughtfully selected; no jarring inelegancies or clumsy repetitions as my brain, under the torturous pressure of immediacy, goes blank for an alternative. This way my mistakes and my embarrassments have been deliberately chosen.

I'm still the same person, of course, writing gives me no special powers; I'm not suddenly able to say clever things about memes and post-modernism and things I don't understand. And the articulacy of the writer is no less the Real Me than the ineloquence of the talker. But it does mean that I can say what I'm capable of saying, the things I've always wanted to tell but never been able to speak, to communicate without the pressure of thinking on the spot or the intimidation of your gaze, to shape my words into perfect little units like God is dead or I love you.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

17 June 2002. Neil writes: Cockfosters
23 May 2002. Neil writes: Siege Mentality
29 April 2002. Neil writes: Oh So Pretty
1 April 2002. Neil writes: Lost
11 March 2002. Neil writes: These Are The Days
14 February 2002. Neil writes: Bedtime Story
21 January 2002. Neil writes: Said She Was An Artist
24 December 2001. Neil writes: Here's All the People
3 December 2001. Neil writes: On Antibiotics
8 November 2001. Neil writes: Private Schooling
15 October 2001. Neil writes: Morning After
20 September 2001. Neil writes: Flightpath
27 August 2001. Neil writes: Tsarina
2 August 2001. Neil writes: Family and Friends
9 July 2001. Neil writes: My Fabulous Weekend
14 June 2001. Neil writes: The Sound of Music
21 May 2001. Neil writes: Lethal Injection
26 April 2001. Neil writes: Voter Apathy
2 April 2001. Neil writes: ET
5 March 2001. Neil writes: The Shadow Over Brunswych
12 February 2001. Neil writes: Bibliofile
18 January 2001. Neil writes: Suburban Gothic
25 December 2000. Neil writes: Many in Body, One in Mind
30 November 2000. Neil writes: Urban Regeneration
6 November 2000. Neil writes: In Extremis
12 October 2000. Neil writes: Obituary
18 September 2000. Neil writes: Your Mother Sucks Cocks In Hell!
24 August 2000. Neil writes: Parent Power
7 August 2000. Neil writes: Love Letter

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