I want to write, I really do. I have bold views of life, of politics, of philosophy, that jostle in my head for attention, that distract me as I walk the supermarket aisle, that can entertain and flirt at the dinner table. But I take pen to paper, and what emerges is an anaemic adolescent idea, so feeble it is pushed over by the next thought in my head, like the 98-lb weakling at the beach. Where is the Charles Atlas of the mind when I need him?
My ideas, so tantalising in cerebral form, emerge with no immunity, like new-borns in a plague-ridden slum, victims of their own naiveté. It reminds me of the advertisements in the back of comic books, those exotic, wonderful products that a boy could scarcely bear to be without – the X-ray glasses, the decoder ring, the 50 magic tricks that would mystify your friends. Of course, when they arrived, the shabby bits of plastic and cardboard exuded disappointment as the package was torn open.
Yet I have to admire the skill that can turn such dross into fool’s gold. Every street market in London would have at least one barker pitching to an eager audience. They would crowd three and four deep to see the wonders of the ever-sharp kitchen knives, the easy way to clean windows, the miracle stain remover. “So easy, even yer three-year-old can do it! Even your mother-in-law can do it! Remember, it’s not available in any store. And ‘ow much am I asking for this? Two quid? Nah, not even one quid. Ten bob, that’s all I’m asking for this magnificent bargain!” A field of ten shilling notes would wave in the air, to be mown down by the adolescent assistant wielding the cheap Asian knives the crowd so ardently desired.
Ah, how can I make my ideas as compelling as that? Let me try again. “All men are created equal.” No, that doesn’t hold up. Another sheet of paper, please.