A quiet 10th Patteran Pages birthday. Just a few people round.
Faute de mieux - very few are left. It's a bit like reaching a great age: just
the odd fellow veteran and a brisk and business-like nurse! Well, up in a
trembling grip goes the glass of Pouilly-Fumé...
As to that past
decade - well, those aspects of it that have impinged directly or indirectly on
my life have been recorded on these pages and the curious can locate them in my
back files. In respect of the great verities of life and death, the years in
between 2003 and 2013 have incorporated:
an explosion of major conflicts,
their impact upon their own immediate regions and the world beyond and their
(ongoing) body count, military and civilian;
the birth of three children and
the restructuring of my life in late middle age around them;
the death of my mother and my
assumption in late middle age of the status of orphan;
a tsunami, a nuclear disaster
and a hurricane;
my diagnosis of prostate
cancer, its treatment and my current freedom from it; the crippling anxiety
that came in its wake, its treatment and my current relief from its worst
a concomitant sense of my own
mortality accompanied by a powerful consciousness of the need to align my
priorities and live right by them.
persisted the way a good deed shines in a naughty
granddaughter Kitty was born to my daughter Zoe and her partner Russell.
Ancient Lights was published and courtesy of Beth Adams and
Phoenicia Publishing a long ambition was realised.
We moved into a house
that feels like entirely the right place for the five of us to be at this time.
After many years, I
resumed playing with Bill and Paul and it was as if we’d only put down the
instruments the day before. Now with Doug on board as well, the music is as
satisfying as I could wish it to be.
As to the
future, I shall keep the blog open for poems and the odd ponder or rant, as of
old. But, Typepad willing, I shall
make some design changes and I‘ll cull the blogroll and links list. Then at
least there’ll be enough of a sense of renewal and future purpose to keep the
blog operational. Ten years is a long time and an unceremonious bailing out
would seem something of a waste.
This was how I made my tentative debut into the nascent blogosphere. How very long ago it seems now...
DICK JONES - WHO HE?
Born in Horton Kirby, Kent, UK, during a V2 raid on the night of December 25th 1944. Thus 58 years old. Divorced, two grown-up offspring, living with partner (younger) & 5-month-old son. Teacher of Drama in a progressive school, facing retirement in 2.5 years time after 36 years in the profession.
Thus my identity - 58 years consigned to an 8-line paragraph. By the time I retire 2/3 of my life will have been given over to the business of being a teacher. So being a teacher has over the years come to define as much what I am as what I do. That which provides my salary has come to define my identity outside & beyond the workplace.
A sobering thought. Is an actor an actor when s/he isn't on stage? Is a politician a politician when s/he is standing in a supermarket checkout queue? What will being a retired teacher do to my sense of my own identity? What will I have become? A retired teacher is a ghost teacher, a yesterday teacher, a theoretical entity whose skills are dormant. They will be active only in memories - mine & those of any ex-students who may recall the lambent wisdoms or stupefying boredom of my lessons.
So where shall I locate my identity when the bell goes one morning & I stay at home? I believe that it will reside in three distinct places: • partnership • fatherhood • poetry
And I guess beneath them all in a fourth - the Child Within who never dies; who defies age & withering experience; who retains a capacity for wonder, surprise & hope; the child who, my mother tells me at age 88, survives the mortification of the flesh & waits for a new dawn every night..
What of the first three? • Partnership because I'm lucky beyond deserving & reasonable chance to have met E. • Fatherhood because now that I'm free of many of the vanities & stultifying certainties of youth I have an opportunity to get parenting more right than wrong this time. • Poetry because the writing of it - that most solitary & internalised of processes - enables me to continue to have a rich & sustaining inner life & gets me closer sometimes to knowing - or thinking I know - who I really am. THE BLOG - WHY & WHITHER?
WHY? How can it be about anything but vanity? Or, if that's too cynical, maybe it's about verifying, confirming, validating one's existence in a public place. Who is really going to give a damn about what makes my world real? Who out there is going to log on &, without even checking their email first, rush to my blog to catch the latest shimmering perception?
Well, I shall. I shall be my own best audience; I shall read each paragraph & stanza, enthralled & lost in the wonder of it all. And if that sets me alongside Robbie Williams in the conceit & self-regard stakes, all that separates us - & you too if you're a blogger - is wealth beyond the dreams of avarice.
WHITHER? This blog will log random thoughts & notions, sparked off as the world goes by. And I shall use it too as a little roadside stall for the poems as they get sparked off too as the world goes by. 19 February 2003
Well, once again I must be 'my own best audience'. What held true then must hold true now. Continuity is all. Another 10 years? A decade on I'm standing in a different place with a different view before me. One day at a time...
14 days this blog will be 10 years old. On February 19th I shall re-publish my
very first post. It introduces me as jobbing teacher and new second-time-round
father and wonders out loud why I've decided to start a weblog. On February
19th 2003 I had no notion as to where it might go and who might read it, nor
could I have anticipated that through it I might form some firm and enduring
friendships in real space and time. And nor could I have predicted that
maintaining a blog would provide the dynamic stimulus that I needed for the
prose and poetry writing that had been part of my life since childhood.
Jones’ Patteran Pages began with tentative diary posts, painstakingly navigated
through the primitive, clunky Salon Blogging technology. Within a few months I
was managing to upload graphics and after a few months more audio and video
files as well. The posts had evolved into a hotchpotch of expanded accounts of
family life, political harangues, cultural rants and comic excursions,
punctuated by poems in various drafts.
of the closest and most durable of my blogging relationships grew out of those
first two years. Over time I’ve met up with some 10 or 12 of these long-term
friends; five of us rendezvous in London regularly. With a handful of others
the relationship has been confined to ‘ethereal’ contact, distance, time and
finance applying the practical constraints whilst in no way diminishing the
quality or authenticity of the friendship.
blogroll that I have built up during my 10 years of blogging is substantial and
at one time I was in regular interaction with the majority of the bloggers on
it. I could reduce it now by at least 75% if I were to retain only those with
whom I have anything like consistent contact. With many on it I have had no
dialogue in several months; with some it’s been a year or more since we
exchanged comments; some have ceased operation or actually shut down.
to the once flourishing blog itself, it’s now largely a billboard for my
poetry. I have made a few attempts to revive the old combination of thematic
elements. But with so many of the old contacts departed or on the quiet side,
the lack of interaction that made the process so worthwhile means that effort
is somewhat out of kilter with outcome.
February 19th I’ll decide whether to try to restore something of the
old character and function of the blog or whether to accept that a combination
of major changes in the general culture and demographic of blogging and my own
consequent ennui have made the Patteran Pages redundant. In that event, I’ll either
trim the blogroll, simplify the format and then continue to use it as a forum
for emergent poems or abandon it altogether and set up a custom-built poetry
blog. With the bulk of my respondents coming now from poetry prompt sites, one
of these revised structures would probably make most sense.
seems to be the best course, I have enjoyed this past decade enormously. I’m
proud to have been an early settler in what was in 2003 a largely unexplored
blogosphere. And I’m pleased and
privileged to have shared the changing times with so many good pals, past and