I very rarely go to social outings these days. At my age, I’ve been there and done that. I find them tedious and fake.
One day, however, a few months ago, a friend rang me and invited me to a function. “There will be lots of writers and people who want to meet you,” they excitedly said. ‘Oh, great,’ I said to myself. Irrespective, I decided to go.
When the night came I got dressed in my usual formal wear. A black leather jacket, black shirt, black dress trousers and crocodile skin winkle-picker shoes. An hour prior to leaving home I downed four valium to keep things on an even keel. On the way out the door I put my Ray Ban sunglasses on as valium makes my eyes go red and I wouldn’t want people thinking that I had been smoking cannabis. (For the record, I don’t smoke the stuff). So what if it was night-time.
On arrival I looked around the room and sighed to myself as I was confronted with men wearing berets and scarves while the women were wearing too much make-up and reeked of cheap perfume. It was one of ‘those’ gigs.
Luckily I was approached by a friend of mine who I had known for years. We talked about everything except writing. Then he said the inevitable. “Come with me, Bob. There are some people dying to meet you.” He led me to three girls who looked to be about eighteen.. One of them spotted me and said to her friends, “Look. Here comes Bob Findlay.” I introduced myself. They asked if I would mind having my photo taken with them. I said, “Why?” I’m not exactly famous. I’m barely known at best. I obliged anyway. I was then pleasantly surprised when I started talking to them. They knew my work well and the works of the great poets.
I was then shuffled off to meet someone else. I recognised their face from Facebook but couldn’t remember their name. I pointed at them and said, “Facebook.” She laughed then told me her name. We got on rather well, probably because we didn’t talk about writing. She too asked for a photo. Obviously I obliged.
As I was shuffled from group to group, generally being bored senseless by talk of writing. After several discussions I needed to go outside for a cigarette as it is almost illegal to smoke a legal product anywhere these days. I had no sooner put my cigarette in its holder than an elderly couple approached me. The lady asked if I would mind not smoking. I asked her if she would mind going to 99% of the other places where there is no cigarette smoke. She took my point and laughed. I noticed that she was carrying one of my poetry books. She asked if her husband could take a photo of the pair of us and would I sign her book. “Certainly,” I said. As she held the book up I put my arm around her. I then signed the book, dedicating it to her and her husband.
After my cigarette, swearing to leave in fifteen minutes….which turned out to be the perfect time. One person started talking about my poetry, rabbiting on about my imagery and the painting that I create. Luckily my sunglasses stopped her from seeing my eyes glaze over. Imagery. Landscape. Give it a rest.
Just as I was about to leave, one of the first three girls that I had spoken to came running towards me. She said, “Bob. I meant to ask you. Where do you get your ideas from?” I paused for quite some time before telling her that I don’t know. I don’t plan a poem and irrespective of length, it takes me no longer than ten minutes to write a poem. If it’s going to take longer than that or if I have to stop and think about it then the spontaneity is gone and off all the forms of literature, poetry is the most spontaneous. I thought that this was a very deep question from one so young, especially because I had to give the answer some thought.
I have written many poems over the years and can recall every single one. People ask me about a poem that’s five years old and I can explain it to them instantly.
With that being my arty outing several months ago, I have sworn I won’t be attending one in 2017. They’re to samey and fake. I’m not into insincere pats on the back from total strangers, name dropping and the likes.
I’d just as soon stay at home.