In October, last year – exactly (and coincidentally) thirteen months ago – I wrote what I hoped was an encouraging email to fellow members of the then Tysoe Residents (Neighbourhood Planning) Group; and, as a result, was asked by David Sewell (also a member) if he could reproduce a shortened reading of it in the Tysoe & District Record. I was more than happy to oblige: as we were in the midst of the opening stages of our skirmish with Gladman Developments, and I thought it might act as a rallying call to the village. However, precious as I am of my words (and the effort it takes to produce them), I also felt that the full version deserved a proper repository.
Initially, I linked it to a photograph of Tysoe, taken from Windmill Hill, in my longstanding online gallery. But so many words, in a repository of images, seemed to jar. (I usually accompany my photos with just a couple of sentences, at most.) And so, an idea that had been bubbling under, somewhere in my subconscious, for many a year – of starting a blog (although I had no particular theme in mind: which, happily, shows to this day!) – rose to the surface, and began to be made concrete: and, on 20 November 2013, I launched this site. (Although, sadly, not a single bottle of champagne was hurt in the process.) And, so that my original post wouldn’t feel lonely, and there would be a hint of progression, and of great(?!) things to come… – one foundation stone does not a building make… – I added a recently-completed poem, to keep it company.
But what to call it?
Keith Risk – who was then chairman – had, good-humouredly (because of the length and content of my many emails and other (public) writings for the Group; as well as my growing addiction to Shakespeare – currently the fifth most-used label on the blog…), christened me “The Bard of Tysoe”. And, for want of any other name (Holofernes may have been as apposite…) – and giving me a sort of core theme to riff on (particularly as I was so heavily involved, at the time, in that “skirmish” for what was left of a small field of ridge-and-furrow on Oxhill Road…) – it stuck. And has been stuck at the top of every post, and every page, ever since. (I’m quite attached to it, now, thank you.)
I also hoped that such a moniker would (maybe; modestly) hide my true identity from most readers. Although, at a celebration following the village’s first victory – at the Stratford-on-Avon District Council Planning Committee (East) meeting, on 8 January 2014 – an acquaintance sidled up to me, and said (with a big grin on his face): “Are you the Bard of Tysoe?” Admittedly, he could have asked this of everyone he met, reverse Spartacus-style: but, having stumbled onto this website looking for information on “planning in Tysoe”, he had put two and two together, and there I was: unmasked! (Darn it.)
In a way, though, it truly doesn’t matter who I (really) am: the version of me that I present, and that you read (and therefore infer), on here – and my varied thoughts on various topics: from Charlecote to Shakespeare; torment to Tysoe (of course!); the windmill to The Wind in the Willows – are all that are important (in the tiny, dark corner of the Web that I inhabit…). I just hope that they are also of interest to someone other than myself – although, as James Joyce declared:
It is my idea of the significance of trivial things that I want to give to the two or three unfortunate wretches who may eventually read me.
As Michael Foley says, as well, in his entertaining book Embracing the Ordinary – well worth getting hold of: especially for phrases such as the sublime “by the sweaters of Benetton I sat down and wept” –
[Proust and Joyce] both understood the crucial paradox: if you write for yourself it will be relevant to everyone and if you write for everyone it will be relevant to no one.
So I wrote for myself – quite happily – wondering how long I could keep the words flowing; hoping to give them some sort of relevance to something; fully expecting to quickly run out of ideas (and split infinitives on which to clumsily hang them…), and therefore last a month at most; and for only “two or three unfortunate wretches” to stumble upon my words (and (occasionally) convoluted grammar).
Which would have done, to be honest.
But, twelve months on (exactly to the day), after over a hundred posts of extremely varying length (and, some would say – including me – quality…), the site has been visited nearly 6,000 times – and by people from all over the globe.
You would think that I would be speechless at such numbers. And I am. (Why are they so low…?! And why, with so many page hits, have I only got three subscribers…?!) But my fingers are obviously connected to a different part of my verbal cortex, it seems (and, yes, I have just made that term up… – but, as always, the link does go to somewhere relevant – although I am unsure as to how many readers actually venture out into the wider realms of the ’Net: hitting on, and trawling for, my various references, side-swipes and Easter eggs…). So, the written words continue to flow. And will do so, for as long as I can hold a book, a thought, a virtual pen, and a glass of single malt. (Although maybe not all at the same time.)