Tuesday 26 November 2013

Goodbye, cruel world

They say that all good things must come to an end, though happily the British monarchy is testing this theory to its limits.

However, I feel sure we can all agree that there comes a time when we should bid farewell to the seriously mediocre.

So it is with this Tuesday column, which concludes today after a run of 387 over 7¾ years. A distinct advance on the nine months that Journal editor Brian Aitken predicted would be the longest I could possibly keep it going when I started.

At least I had a good innings, as they like to say in the day rooms at twilight homes.

I realise that my departure will come as a hammer blow to my beloved aunt and the handful of mainly elderly enthusiasts who buy The Journal every Tuesday simply to keep up with my ramblings.

On the other hand, it may lead to a modest spike in sales of Aldi budget champagne to fans of wind turbines and Gordon Brown (if he has any left).

While the world at large will naturally receive the news with the massive indifference I deserve.

I knew I was on to a good thing personally after my second column, published fortuitously on Valentine’s Day 2006, won me a hot date with an attractive PR woman plus a letter of sympathy from someone in sheltered accommodation in Rothbury.

In those days I was a solitary curmudgeon, winding down in the depths of the countryside after some years of toil in the City of London, and was able to prove my “green” credentials by having no children. This more than offset the fact that I burned lots of coal, ate huge numbers of animals and drove a Range Rover.

Then several remarkable things happened. A column I had written for the business pages called “The Chief Executive’s Handbook” went modestly viral enough to bring me to the attention of a youngish female accountant at Iceland Foods’ head office in Flintshire.

The fact that I knew her chief executive prompted me to ask him whether the e-mail she sent me had come from a fictitious troublemaker or a genuine eccentric, and he confirmed that she was the latter.

This touched off a correspondence that was supercharged by the fact that I had started writing a blog – a development that had prompted several derisive messages from Journal readers ridiculing me for wasting my time in such a futile manner.

Yet it played no small part in the chain of events that ultimately led to our marriage in February 2009 and the subsequent birth of two healthy sons.

All of which goes to show that you should always expect the totally unexpected, and never accept conventional wisdom about what constitutes a productive use of your time.

Of course, it has its downsides. I turn 60 in June next year and had been looking forward to paying off my mortgage, putting my feet up and doing a bit of pottering around on my senior citizen’s railcard.

Now I am scrabbling for more work and hoping that my sadly defective heart may keep going for another 20 years or so, to see my boys through university.

Luckily my wife’s employers have sprung to my aid, as viewers of the recent reality TV series on Iceland will have noticed, by granting me the use of a refrigerated broom cupboard as an office, and allowing me to pretend that I am in charge of their PR.

However, it is not pressures of work or the lure of short-lived TV stardom that have led me to call a day on this column. It is simply a change in production scheduling which creates a deadline I cannot meet.

It is sad that The Journal will no longer host the country’s premier agony aunt and most obscure misery uncle on the same day, but it was great while it lasted. Thank you so much for your readership and support.

Luckily for me I’ve landed a new job, starting next week. I’m going to be writing a Wednesday column for The Journal. But don’t despair, wind energy cheerleaders. Brian confidently predicts that it will last an absolute maximum of nine months.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

Louise said...

So we can continue to look forward to more 'ramblings' - great!