Friday, 29 July 2011

"I know you think you understood

what I said but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant."
Two days ago on this blog I tried to explain a very difficult concept. Nicola Morgan and I had been trying to carry out a conversation via Twitter and it did not work.
Twitter is fine. It is a great tool for idle chatter, quick messages, fun, bits and pieces of news etc. It does not work well for serious conversation.
By the time I decided to write the blog post it was too late. Nicola thought I was talking about one thing and I was actually talking about something entirely different. Ouch!
Thankfully for me Nicola has the robust good sense to realise that I was not criticising her writing or even her approach to writing. It works for her - and that has to be a good thing.
I hope we have it sorted out between us - although I know I still have not managed to explain to her what it is I am talking about. (Interestingly I have had several e-mails from people who do not want to comment publicly and they seem to understand. Strange, but true.)
I know people who want to write but do not know how to set about doing it at all. Although it is the advice they usually get I suspect it is absolutely pointless saying to them "just sit down and do it". It may be that they will never be able to do it.
There was however someone I knew who did want to write something for his children and his grandchildren. He felt totally frustrated by his inability to start. He thought there were things he wanted to say. He did not know how to say them.
"I don't know where to begin," he told me.
It was no use telling him "the beginning" because he did not know where the beginning was. He was not even sure what his first memory was.
In the end his grandson asked questions and recorded the answers with the recording device out of view so that the old man would not dry up. After the first couple of tries his grandson came to my father (a former teacher) for advice about how to ask the questions he wanted to ask. That helped.
Eventually they had hours of tape. His daughters are slowly transcribing some of it for the rest of the family.
I have seen some of it. Although he died some time ago I can still hear the old man's voice telling the story. Nobody believes anyone outside the family would be interested but this is "Grandpa" talking and there will soon be great-grandchildren old enough to appreciate it.
It too comes from the heart.

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