For the past year and a half I have enjoyed spouting my half-baked and ill-formed opinions in this fine organ but alas this will be the final Nelsons Column. With an outgoing editor I thought I’d use the transition to get out fast between regimes like an ex-pat oil worker in Libya with a suitcase full of US Dollars and directions to Sullom Voe.
The truth is I want to concentrate all my literary graft to writing fiction. I admire my non-fiction writing brethren (and sistern) but I find a purer and more universal truth in fiction. You can hear private conversations, peak behind closed doors and see inside peoples heads. For instance you read in the papers of a young thug swaggering from the dock, sneering as the judge hands him a six month sentence. Then I could write a fiction showing a cowering child in a jail cell terrified about the prison hierarchy. In real life he would never reveal this truth to anyone lest he look vulnerable and weak. But in fiction the truth is revealed. Or you could take the house proud housewife, keeping her doorstep clean to let the neighbours know how happy she is in her domesticity. But in fiction she is revealed sitting alone at the kitchen table pouring over travel brochures with pictures of places she will never see. Perhaps you receive a councillors’ letter explaining how they have taken your views into account when making the decision to close your local school. Envision a script where those same councillors sit round a table in a private room far from the public eye considering how best to twist your views and make them look unimportant and impotent.
So while the events and actions in these fictions are all invented, the emotional truths are completely intact.
Frankly though I must admit that I’m just not that good at non-fiction. Anytime I try to pass comment on any given situation I sound like some idiot at a bus stop spewing out reactionary nonsense regardless of detail. Fiction allows me to go deeper looking at the whys and wherefores of the world and not just the whats and hows. In fiction there is clearer picture of how the world works. On TV we see countless “reality” programs where no reality exists. People don’t act like real people once you point a camera on them. We all “smile please” regardless of our mood. It’s all Heisenberg’s Quantum Uncertainty Principal – an object behaves differently once observed.
Of course there are the non-fiction geniuses like George Orwell, Ayn Rand, John Pilger, Ian Curtis and the like. But I just don’t have their patience and stamina (like most non-fiction writers). I don’t have it in me to toil away trying to get the truth out of a world of liars and dellusionists. In fiction I can sink deep into my own imagination and thereby discover the heart of matters.
So in defence of my departure here are a few brief ranty examples of how this column might read if I carried on.
Bono haters: Yeah, who does that Bono think he is donating millions of Euros to charity and trying to highlight the plight of small African nations? He should be snorting cocaine off prostitutes’ bellies and selfishly swimming round in his money like any decent pop star. Listen, kids, people have been telling Bono he’s a sanctimonious hypocrite since The Joshua Tree. That’s 25 years ago. I don’t think he’s that bothered. Use your energy for hating things like cruelty to children and racism, not some singer who does a bit of charity work in his spare time.
Gender specific clothing for children: You know what? If you want to dress your boys up in blue and your girls in pink that’s fine. I have no problem with that. A lot of wee girls like pink. But when my wife and I decide against doing that please don’t give us a hard time. It’s not because of some pseudo intellectual, liberal, modernist, PC issue. It’s because baby blue is boring. Pretty pink is boring. And for that matter so is lemon. So when you see our kids dressed in black, white, brown and green please don’t judge us. We don’t judge you.
Lulu’s accent: Oh for God’s sake leave the poor woman alone. She hasn’t lived in Scotland for ages. She’s been all over the world for the past forty odd years. Of course her accent is going to be all over the place. We all have émigré relatives who arrive home all mid Atlantic then go gutturally broad after three drams, so get a grip!
SIC councillors: Small fish, small pond, too much power, too much money, no perspective. Please prove me wrong!
Goodnight and good luck.