Carry On Scribbling!

Starring ERH & Supaproofread

 

As an officianado of the “Carry On..” series of films and with one of them playing on the dvd as the kids wait for me to perform my chef impression and deliver dinner, using this as a post title was too good to pass up.

 

There is a serious point being made – “Carry on Scribbling!”

 

There have been times when I personally felt I was flagellating the proverbial deceased equine; however, when this happens to you drop me a line here at Supaproofread. I think it was Lawrence Kasdan, a movie producer or something like that, who came up with some second hand scripted wisdom that we all have a road to travel, some are short some are long etc, etc. The gist of it being if you keep going you’ll eventually arrive to where you’re heading.

 

There is a technical British term that I have repeatedly attempted to explain to our American cousins as much for their vernacular erudition as my dubious amusement:

 

“BOLLOCKS!”

 

Which sums up my opinion of Mr Kasdan’s quotable quote fairly well; with one caveat;

 

Writing.

 

Here’s an example of how very poor grammar, a poor understanding of English and no idea of the “real” world can still produce a priceless image that can be communicated to those who will listen:

 

“My mum and dad are very strict but verie nice. And my dad is fat”

 

I’m the “dad” in question and in my defence I have lost some weight since my son wrote this three years ago. Nevertheless, as my son’s mother and I sat on those small chairs at his school sifting through his work on a parents evening, my ex started a stifled giggling fit and simply passed the exercise book to me while I read my heir’s attempt at writing a paragraph.

 

We both laughed our socks off and given I’m writing about this now you can gauge the impression that it has left on me personally.

 

Writing does not require qualifications nor a command of language, you need not be honest and you can display the most base crudeness or avoid the fart and provide art. The choice is yours and your reader.

 

This is another practical example of how powerful really bad writing can be. I have a friend in Israel, Udi and he’s a tour guide and part-time insurance salesman which supplements his main passion; archaeology. Israel has more archaeological sites per square mile than any other country in the world, so Udi tells me. Udi took me to Masada, the mountain fortress of Herod situated by the Dead Sea and the scene of the mass suicide of a bunch of zealots. This place is a national shrine in Israel and if memory serves, a World Heritage site, and is certainly a memorable place to visit.

 

On the top of this seriously steep hill is Masada, about 800 feet above the valley plain, but this was not just a fortress, it was also a palace and indeed, it was primarily used as such. This required a lot of water for the gardens, the baths, the slaves, the general population and remember this is a barren arid and very dry region. All of the water had to be transported and stored in a huge manmade underground cavern whose sides had been covered in a waterproof plaster some 500 years before Jesus was born.

 

You can walk down a steep set of steps into this cistern and immediately experience the coolness of this cavernous space which contrasts very sharply with the temperature outside. Once you have your bearings and have adjusted, the next thing you’ll notice is how smooth the walls are and the graffitti that adorns the walls. I’m serious, these walls are so smooth you touch them and they feel cool and absolutely perfect. According to Udi this is the original covering, nothing has been changed or added as part of a renovatory effort, so imagine plaster walls that are 2,500 years old and we even know the ingredients and how to mix them.

 

How do we know the ingredients?

 

Carbon dating? Chemical analysis? High brow scientific deduction? DIY Manual for Fortress Builders?

 

No!

 

It appears that a grumpy foreman became somewhat angry at the Friday afternoon skimping that was going on with Herod’s building contractor. So ticked off did he become, that he wrote on the wall the actual ratio and quality of the constituents of this plaster together with his opinion of the builders and (in his words) an idiots guide to preparation. Almost three millennia later Udi’s lecturer discovered it back in the 70’s.

Writing is long lived, with the mundane standing an equal chance beside the art, for longevity or indeed success. I’m lucky, I’m able to make a living with writing but it’s taken me over 2 years of on and off work to get to the point where I can kick back and not have to worry about the money to pay this weeks bills. My issue has become trying to find the work that I’m interested in doing, which means primarily higher paying commissions, and also finding the time to write what I want for me and editors at more prestigious publications than www.anyoldpapfor$5per500words.com !

Did I write “I’m lucky” just then – perhaps I should have said I just kept working at it and the harder I worked the luckier I got – just don’t give in, “Carry On Scribbling!”