I’ve been writing on my blog, pretty much every week, for the last five years or so. There are 446 posts here now which, at a highly conservative estimate of 600 words per post, is, well, quite a lot of words.
On almost all of these posts, there is one constant. One very welcome constant. It’s that man at the end of the post who comes and offers a comment, usually his thoughts as evoked by the post. This man is Jim Murdoch and this post is about his comments on my blog.
Jim and I are friends, although we’ve never actually met or even spoken aloud to each other. We are friends through Social Media, primarily through our blog comments and a couple of other related external dealings.
Jim doesn’t have to come and plant his thoughts on my blog posts every week. He has many better things he could be doing.
He is, to my mind, an exceptional poet and writer. He is many things; stalwart, intelligent, funny, and consistent and, when he reviews a book, it stays reviewed. His own blog ‘The Truth About Lies’ is a testament to his depth, his perception and his depth-perception.
I am also a fan of his writing. Here’s a tiny poem, one of thousands which he has crafted. This one was written after the death of his father and it stays with me constantly:
THE END OF ALL ILLUSIONS
Yes, even granite men
melt in the rain in time.
20 January 1996
Jim has written and published novels, short stories, poetry collections. I reviewed his first published novel ‘Living With the Truth’ here some years ago. A subsequent novel, ‘Milligan and Murphy’ is perhaps my favourite. It evokes Jim’s much-admired Samuel Beckett in a striking way whilst also retaining the humour and aptness which invariably colours his own work.
I find it rather hard to pin Jim’s writing down. If I had to, I think I would refer to it as ‘refreshingly old school’. Jim’s writing evokes, for me at least, a more solid time. A time of Alan Sillitoe, Morecambe and Wise, Keith Waterhouse, Samuel Beckett. Jim does ‘funny’, ‘real’, light and dark in equal measure but what he does most is hinted at in the title of his blog. He does Truth. When reading Jim’s stuff, I so-often find myself saying things like ‘I’ve felt that’, ‘He’s right there’, ‘That is so true’. Jim does truth in spades and it’s a great trick to be able to pull off.
He has a new collection of short stories out and I would recommend it to you. It’s called ‘Making Sense’ and you can get a copy by clicking here if you like. The pieces in it are quite short and many of them punch above their weight. I think it’s an excellent guide into the urban pathways and wooded trails which Jim explores.
I value Jim’s comments on my posts very highly indeed. His insights frequently compliment or counterpoint whatever I am trying to express in a particular post. Often he succeeds striking the very note which I had been striving for. I also believe that, by taking the trouble to turn up, he is subtly encouraging me to continue, that he is expressing a little faith in whatever level of talent I might have. I think he believes in my a wee bit.
But there is another value to Jim’s comments.
More than anything, Jim’s comments make me feel like a curator of something quite valuable. On his own blog, Jim concerns himself with higher issues of poetry and literary review and such. Elements of himself seem only to creep in by osmosis. Here on my own blog, where I try to write as openly as I can about whatever trivia is currently exercising my brain, Jim seems to pay me the compliment of doing the same thing. His replies to my posts are often in-depth, personal, self-revelatory and unerringly consistent and honest.
Increasingly, I feel that these comments which Jim leaves me have a value which is quite beyond the value of a regular comment or series of comments. Taken together, I think that Jim’s comments build to a picture of the man which might surprise even himself.
It is possible that the time he has spent in giving his subtle encouragement to me has, quite subconsciously, created an episodic piece of writing work which has an intrinsic value all of its own. Over the years, these comments have ranged widely over some of the bigger subjects as well as the small.
It’s something I must do. I must carefully collate all these comments, if only in a simply word document, and email it back to Jim. I hadn’t thought to do this before I started writing this post but now I reckon it’s very well worth doing and, indeed, quite important.
None of this is intended to put pressure on Jim, to be continuing to come here commenting all the time. If he stopped tomorrow and never came back, I would understand and would still appreciate all the visits he has made and the care he had taken.
So thanks for all the time and energy you've given me, Jim. It's always appreciated and never taken for granted. One of these days, I'm going to give all those comments back to you in a wee bundle and you can see then how much of yourself you might have left lurking around here.
I’ll get on it.