When I first discovered the world of blogging, ten years ago, I thought it was an absurd idea. Why would any strangers want to know about the minutiae of my life, or care what I thought about a particular book? I regarded blogging as a harmless but futile pastime.
I was reasonably contented managing a bookshop and although it wasn't always terribly stimulating, I had other projects that stopped me from becoming bored. In my spare time, I researched and wrote material about authors for an intranet site and had also begun to train as a Justice of the Peace.
I was very upset when I discovered that as a magistrate, I wouldn't be required to wear a wig
Naively, I thought that life would just tick along. At some point I'd move to another bookshop and my son would go to secondary school, but apart from a few grey hairs, little would change.
But a couple of years later, things began to unravel. My father died, my wife discovered that she was pregnant, the company I worked for was taken over and we began to have the first inkling that something wasn't quite right with my oldest son.
This time seven years ago, my wife had taken our sons to stay with her mother for a couple of weeks so that I could decorate the house. I think I must have painted half a wall before I began to feel the first signs of the worst food poisoning I've ever experienced. I was in bed for nearly two weeks.
During my convalescence I spent many hours aimlessly surfing the internet. At some point I stumbled across Blogger and out of curiosity, decided to see if I could create a blog page. I casually decided to call it 'The Age of Uncertainty', as it seemed apposite, then wrote a short post and published it.
For better or worse, this blog has nothing to do with John Kenneth Galbraith
Perhaps that would have been the end of it. However, someone posted a comment and I was so surprised and delight that a stranger had read what I'd written, thought about it and given an interesting reply, I felt compelled to try again.
I soon discovered that I was wrong about blogging. It wasn't simply another form of vanity publishing, but rather a new way of connecting with like-minded people whose lives I would have been blissfully unaware of in the pre-internet age. The thoughtful comments, helpful suggestions and sympathetic responses from others have enriched my life. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, I have discovered different authors, visited new places and made a few friends.
I think that this blog was at its peak when I worked in my last job, as I had a wealth of material to write about and share. I find blogging far more difficult these days, partly because I no longer have access to dozens of photo albums and diaries, but also because I'm now self-employed and feel that I should spend as much time as possible trying to earn some money. The book business ticks along, just, but I hover on the edge of penury.
Also, I find it difficult to write an entertaining blog when my home life is so dysfunctional. The highlights of the last month have been cancelling a holiday, having a kitten put down and trying to persuade my oldest son to leave the house for more than five minutes. I suppose I could extract some black humour from recent events, but I'd rather not.
In light of everything that's happened, I've been wondering if I should continue to maintain this blog. I worry that it has become a disappointment to the people who began to follow it in the days of the Derek diaries and the Victorian photo albums.
However, I'm not quite ready to give up.
I don't want to stop blogging for two reasons. First, I really enjoy reading people's comments, which are always kind, thoughtful and incisive. Second, the act of writing a blog post is nearly always an enjoyable journey into the unknown. For example, when I did a little research for a recent post about Arnold Bennett, I discovered a great article by someone I'd never heard of called Wendy Lesser and looked her up on Google. A week later, I was reading a wonderful book that she'd written about Shostakovich.
I think the answer is to continue, even if it's only once or twice a month. If circumstances change, then perhaps I can breathe new life into the ailing patient. In the meantime, here is a picture of the winner of the European royalty Buddy Holly lookalike competition: