Dear Writing…


Dear Writing,

Don’t take this wrong, but, well… sometimes I really hate you.

For a start, you force me to get me up, every morning—way earlier than anyone in their right mind would want to get up, for something they don’t get paid to do. (And yeah, boo-hoo about that.) You make me sniff through the pile of clothes by my bed, get dressed, and drive to the coffee-shop, where I spend the next few hours in your company. You make me drink coffee, which stains my teeth and sends me slightly loopy, and has me running to the bogs within twenty minutes as I feel the entire contents of my guts about to drop. You make me sit down, which is bad for my health, apparently, and you make my back ache, as I become more and more engrossed in you, forgetting about the importance of sitting up straight and maintaining correct posture…

Damn you, Writing!

It’s bad enough you made me quit my job—not just once or twice, either. And for what? To keep me awake at night, as I try to find solutions to problems you’ve created, teasing me with new ideas when I haven’t even finished fleshing out the ones you gave me last time. Oh, and that thing you do, when you wake me up in the middle of the night, to tell me, Hey, Matt! You know that sentence you were struggling to put together earlier today? Well, here it is. I mean, not to sound ungrateful or anything, but do I have to hear it right now? It’s three a.m and I have to be up in a couple of hours to go and write.

You bastard, Writing.

My memory’s a little hazy, but I’m pretty sure I was doing fine before you came along. Now you distract me from other, more worthy endeavours, such as… oh, I don’t know. Swimming, or cycling. Or building my own house. And yes, you’ve taken me to some interesting places—physically and, you know, spiritually—but they were places I didn’t always need to go. Uncomfortable places. Places of profound personal discovery. Worse still, you’ve given me a sense of purpose—an ambition, a goal—when all I really want to do is sit on my arse and watch old episodes of The Simpsons, or whatever’s on Sky Atlantic HD. On occasion, you even—whisper it—give me hope, when, really, we all know that hope is pointless, and that we’re all doomed. And for that, I really hate you.

But I think the thing I hate most about you is that you know, in spite of my need to do other things, and my dalliances with other art-forms and creative outlets, you know that I’ll always come back to you. No matter how many dead ends you lead me down, how many rejection-slips you get me, how many glazed looks of disinterest you’d have me receive. You know I’ll be back…

Oh, Writing, you smug old git.

So, yes, sometimes I really do hate you. Savage Garden-style—truly, madly, deeply. Lifelong-partner-style. For all the early mornings, the backache, and the deteriorating eyesight. For the gut-rot and all the other pain you cause me. But the truth is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. No, siree. Not in a million years. Because—to paraphrase the great Mister Gregory Porter—even our worst days are better than the loneliness I’d feel without you.

Yours (hatefully)


The Wedding Speech

All, Words

So, my old buddy Ben got hitched. Yep. He and Tahlia finally tied the knot, down in “sunny” Cornwall. It was beautiful, despite the rain. Best man’s duties fell to Jake (Ben’s bru), who is also one of my dearest friends, so I wasn’t at all miffed at missing out on that job. Besides, I really don’t think I could have delivered a speech quite as special as the one Jake did. Oh, boy. No, siree…

Why, I hear you cry? What happened? What made it so special? Well, first of all, he was nervous, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jake nervous about anything. He was so nervous, in fact, that he asked me to listen to him do a final read-through an hour before, upstairs, in his bedroom. With the door locked. At the end, he couldn’t quite get the words out without crying. I’ve never seen him cry before, either. I almost laughed. You’ll be fine, I lied, gave him a hug, and we went downstairs, back to the marquee and the one hundred and thirty-odd waiting guests.

Things started off fine. First, he read out some messages from people who couldn’t be there, and it was funny (“Hi Jake… Hm. Bit weird”). Then he began the main speech, talking about all the things he could mention about his old brother… but won’t. His shoes, his hair, his soul patch. There was even a toast to the soul patch. Again, very funny. After that he talked about all the jobs Ben had had over the years and how he’d basically been fired from them all and/or caused the companies to fold… and it was during this part that things started to go awry. Like, spectacularly. Because for some reason, he decided to turn the focus of the speech to himself, about how well his suit fitted, and how good his hair looked, and so on. He returned to these themes later, without warning, and he made jokes about his own jokes—the ones he’d just made—and commented on whether or not he thought they had worked.  At one point he told a crying kid to shut up. (He claims he said “chill out”, but whatever). People didn’t really know what to make of it, which made it even funnier.

The whole time, I watched and listened from the back, loving every minute, like I was watching and listening to a member of my own family. Which I was. When he came to the serious part—a genuinely heartfelt tribute to his big brother, who had taught him to snowboard and helped him through some pretty tough times, but adding that he never takes life too seriously in spite of how tough things get—my heart soared, and I willed him on as he struggled to keep it together.

Afterwards, I couldn’t help but think: that’s how to do it. That’s how to deliver a wedding speech. Okay, so he ballsed up the ending a bit, repeated himself a couple of times, and went on for about twenty minutes too long, but for all its imperfections it was all absolutely glorious.

So, here’s to you Jakey. Good job. And congratulations once again to Ben and Tahlia. You guys rock.