Just messing about


When he started farming on his own account my father kept a diary. He thought it would be useful and so he jotted down in it what he’d done that day, anything bought or sold, prices and similar.

Then one day my mother seems to have ‘encouraged’ him to go to town with her to do some shopping. To this day I have no idea where they went or why, but his diary entry is clear. There written in his beautiful copperplate (somebody once commented my father’s handwriting had never been spoiled by over-use) were the words;-
’Went shopping with Dorothy. Wasted Day.’


I don’t think my mother was entirely impressed, but my father learned his lesson. He never wrote another diary entry as long as he lived.
To an extent I’m nearly as bad as my Dad in this regard. With the arrival of dairy cows my days are fuller than they were, which does mean I get less time for writing. So after one particularly busy afternoon I commented that, “At some point in the future, the presenter of some Radio 4 literary programme is going to interview you and ask how it was that the world came to be denied so much of my literary output.”

The person I was talking to just shrugged and commented, “I’ll just tell them that you preferred messing about with dairy cows to sitting down to do some work.”
Which is probably the truth.


But I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have my books set for ‘A’ level. I suppose that for a start I’d get decent sales but then people would hate them. Not only that but I’d have all sorts of people deconstructing them and explaining the subtleties of the message hidden in the work.

There again, I heard somebody tell of how their (American obviously) high school English teacher made them read Hemmingway’s novel “The Old Man and the Sea”. She picked apart literally everything in the book and said it was all symbolism. The sea, the shark, the colour of the shark, the fish, the shoreline, the boat… According to her, this was a literary masterpiece of Christian symbolism.

According to Hemmingway himself, however when approached by the pupil in question: “There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are sharks, no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people see is shit.”

Apparently the teacher refused to believe the author.


Still until my books are accepted for the literature syllabus you do at least have one advantage over future generations. Buy the book now and you can boast to your children and grandchildren that you’d read my work before I was famous!

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11 thoughts on “Just messing about

  1. joylennick December 9, 2018 at 5:26 pm Reply

    I overheard someone once spouting symbolically about a painting and wondered if the artist would have agreed with their interpretation. Religious and non-religious people seem to have different ideas as to ‘messages’ or signs…, as do those who believe in angels and fairies, etc., Each to his own, I suppose. (If it makes them happy.) I’m all for happy…

    • jwebster2 December 9, 2018 at 5:37 pm Reply

      happy, I can drink to 🙂

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 9, 2018 at 6:58 pm Reply

    Buying your books before you are famous – first responders, we be. It’s a good place.

    • jwebster2 December 9, 2018 at 7:15 pm Reply

      Absolutely, ahead of the curve 🙂

  3. patriciaruthsusan December 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    A bit about Hemmingway’s writing and a chance to get Jim Webster’s books before he becomes famous. You can’t ask for much more than that.

    • jwebster2 December 13, 2018 at 2:20 pm Reply

      Got my Dad and Hemingway in the same blog 🙂

  4. patriciaruthsusan December 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm Reply

    Your dad would no doubt be pleased. 🙂 — Suzanne

    • jwebster2 December 13, 2018 at 2:50 pm Reply

      I think we watched the film ‘for whom the bell tolls’ together, which is as close to Hemingway as he got 🙂

  5. michaelwynnauthor December 13, 2018 at 4:12 pm Reply

    There are often messages and signs in my writing but I only see them afterwards, they are all accidents. I love Graham Greene’s work but cannot be in the same room as ‘The Power and the Glory,’ due to my English teacher’s word by word dissection of it which totally destroyed it for me.

    • jwebster2 December 13, 2018 at 4:34 pm Reply

      A friend of mine who did English literature at university reckons it was over twenty years after he’d left university before he could read for pleasure again. You have my sympathy

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