Notes from Lapta, Cyprus – A Week In The Life by Ken Dunn

Some years ago I wrote a weekly column for a local newspaper in the South West of the UK. Well, it wasn’t so much a ‘column’ but more of a bump in the ground in that I was constrained to only being allowed 400 words of ‘wisdom’. There’s not a lot you can cram into such a short piece but I did my best. But, as many more illustrious journalists, authors and deliverers of superbly crafted written prose than I will ever be able to offer have found, there comes a time when you haven’t got a blind clue as to what you’re going to scribble down for the next deadline. That can be quite scary and does tend to focus the mind.

In a particularly ‘blank’ mode and desperate for any idea, subject, gossip or conjecture to write about and facing a fast approaching deadline, hours away, and the need to ‘deliver the goods’ to the newspaper for the following day, I rattled out the following text, thinking, ‘Well, that’s it. This will never be accepted and I can kiss goodbye to my column or (accurately described previously) my ‘bump’. I offer it now. It’s then followed by a more up to date version for the verbal perambulations which the Editor of NCFP, Malcolm Channing, bless him, has allowed me to inflict upon you all.

NOTES FROM A SMALL TOWN

The deadline for this short missive of mine, every week, is a Tuesday and requires around four hundred words of pithy comment about our fair burgh. Not for the first time have I found myself on a Monday without a single thought in my head for ‘copy’ for the following day. A few weeks ago I was idly listening to a fifteen minute programme on the radio which was a simple, spoken account based on the diary of a scientist over the period of a year. That gave me the idea of my text for the following day. ‘A Diary for the Week’. Here it is. The month was June!

TUESDAY

Completed my ‘Notes’ for the newspaper during the morning and dispatched via email. Newspaper only five hundred yards away but saves shoe leather. Shopping does not. Out to top up the groceries. Still cold but temperatures, emotional and physical, rather higher in some of the shops.

WEDNESDAY

Down the High Street dodging a foreign school party and local school children eating unspeakable rubbish. Stumbled into gutter. Squelched, disgruntled, back home. Turned on the central heating.

THURSDAY

Still cool but sunny. Stayed clear of gutters in the High Street. Accosted by three beaming charity workers trying to save civilisation as we know it and politely refused to offer anything buying a copy of ‘Big Issue’ instead. Back home. Recycling truck arrives. All amazed at the huge collection of bottles outside our house.

FRIDAY

Raining again. Spot new CCTV camera in the High Street. Stare at it. Tempted to stick tongue out, thumbs in ears, waggling hands. Sirens in background. Scuttle off before being arrested for being ‘naughty’ or ‘acting with intent’. Turn up the central heating.

SATURDAY

Blowing a gale outside. Why do we have so much weather in this town? Wandered up to browse through the open market. Began to rain. Forgot to bring umbrella. Stumble between two stalls, one canopy dumps collected water all over me. Stallholder not sympathetic. Squelch back home.

SUNDAY

Lost tourists seen wandering disconsolately by. Germ of an idea for column. How many lost tourists ever find their way back to the car park?

MONDAY

Overcast. Remembered to take umbrella. Left it in one of the shops, again. That makes three this month. Squelched back home.

TUESDAY

Bash out ‘Lost tourists’ idea. Just managed to dispatch copy before the midday deadline. Relax again. Check central heating. Next idea for four hundred words?

The editor of that newspaper thankfully accepted it, printed it and I lived to write another day. It wasn’t what you might describe as ‘riveting reading’. A few years later the whole thing folded, not because of anything to do with me, but due to ‘fiscal problems’. Code language for not enough advertising. Oh dear. Why should advertising rule the distribution of information, advice or plain and simple ‘reportage’? So, that was that.

Fast forward less than a decade and I’m at ‘it’ again! Here’s the ‘up to date’ 2011 version, based on the previous offering.

TUESDAY

No ‘word count’ constraint. Tricky. Can’t think of anything. Try again tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY

Busy doing something else.

THURSDAY

Ah. That’s an idea. Could bore them with, ‘I remember when…’

FRIDAY

Am I really that old?

SATURDAY

What was the name of that stupid old sod….?

SUNDAY

The GC’s might not like this one. Do I care….?.

MONDAY

Ooh, I’d forgotten about that!

TUESDAY

The pressure to deliver is…. Wonderfully non existent!

And so it might continue, for now.

As my wife and I are now ‘retired’ too many folk around us insist on asking, ‘And how are you coping with retirement then?’ The temptation to answer that with the shorter equivalent of, ‘Go forth and procreate!’ is huge but would they understand? Another frequent question is, ‘So, what do you do with your time?’ That’s another dangerous area for response but the one question which really gets up my shirt lap is, ‘It must be so boring with nothing to do.’

Well, that’ll be the day!!

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