Well, we were sitting around at the Diogenes Club again last night, as we do on infrequent Friday evenings, and the subject of blogging came up. I might add at this point that I am a blogging virgin, while two of my fellow club members are blogging experts with plenty of advice to offer. It was decided that I too, must have a blog.
But what to blog about, though? Tim was quite insistent that I must have a niche. It is no use blogging on about the world or politics or the latests deficiencies of the government. There's thousands doing that and it'll be stale in a couple of weeks. You need to have something that lasts, something your grandchildren will want to read about in a hundred years time - or it's useless. Well I am by no means convinced that there will be 'a hundred years time' to write for, but that's besides the point. And I understood the point well. Tim is interested in the eternal verities: innocence, purity - but nothing too dangerous. "You're passing on the baton to the next generation, you're not aiming for the mass market, you are trying to create a niche, and in your case you create your niche by what you can hand on to your grandchildren in a hundred years time."
It's good advice, but it's no closer to finding me a niche. Tim is fortunate in that he already has a niche of his own. He is a beachcomber by temperament, and I sneakingly feel would like to be one by profession. He is master of his world (by which I mean Google numero one in his chosen field) and from the domain of his beach hut has command over all he sees. There is a great advantage to being a beach hut man like Tim. Not only does he have a niche, but it's the kind of niche where the whole world can pass by along the shore, and there are plenty of jewels to pick up and polish.
Likewise David. He is another founder member of the Diogenes Club and a veteran blogger with an encyclopedic knowledge of film, literature, local history and a dozen other things. David doesn't just have one niche, he has a number of them. His advice on "finding your niche" is a little on the existential side. "It will just come to you in the middle of the night. You will wake up and it will be there." I'd like to believe it. Like the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail it's a quest to find something that is hidden deep in the psyche - something that is revealed by dreams in the mystic moment. Not that I've believed any of that sort of thing either.
So come on guys - what should I write about? I need some better advice if I am to enter the blogging world.Tim was insistent. "Don't let anyone tell you what to write." It's good advice, but doesn't help one to get started on the thing.
And here's something else, according to Tim's rules of Blogging: "Don't say anything behind people's backs that you wouldn't say to their faces." That's a lesson I discovered a long time ago now and is an essential rule for protecting yourself against all kinds of hypocracy. It's also one of the reasons I admire old Diogenes. Call a spade a spade and damn the consequences. Just tell it like it is. Of course that kind of attitude will get you into trouble and it is a strong man who can carry such a burden. It's likely that no such people exist anymore - and maybe never have existed. It is said that Diogenes used to stroll through the Agora during the day carrying a torch while the sun was bright in the sky. When asked what he was doing, he answered, "I am looking for an honest man." He reputedly found nothing but rascals and scoundrels, but he made his point well.
But back to the niche. Was David right that it would just come to me in the night? Well it was about 5.30am this morning and, believe it or not, I awoke with it all clear in my mind. Stories from the Diogenes Club. That's a niche setting if anything is - yet the whole of human life is here, as one Sunday newspaper use to subtitle its offerings. It's my very own beach hut from which I can beachcomb the little nuggets along the Diogenes shoreline and maybe polish up a few for those coming after. Here everything comes and goes, the warp and woof, the eternal verities, the good, bad and ugly - and nothing too dangerous.