A Little About Me at 50

A lot has happened in the world of Whatever Words since it was launched in late August. Its subtle presence can now be felt on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (where the number of followers is steadily growing). There also exists a Whatever Words Spotify account with seven playlists; the most recent of which being a spectacularly spooky Halloween one.

October was an acutely active month for blogging; and this post just happens to be the fiftieth(!) That being the case, I wanted to do something slightly different and ‘special’ for this post. I initially intended to do a (probably lengthy) post on mental health, seeing as that was the driving force behind the founding of Whatever Words. However, I have had something on my mind which I have increasingly been wanting to publish, and so I think this will be a two-parter. The first part – #50 – will be a personal piece in which I (non-conceitedly) talk about myself, and some of my interests and things that mean a lot to me. There will be a follow-up piece – initially this would’ve been #51,* but other posts have, and continue, to supersede – on the issue of mental health; more so some thoughts on its significance than my personal experiences, as these have been discussed elsewhere.

I hope the two posts that follow will be worthwhile, interesting and as un-self-centred as a post about oneself can be. Blogging has thus far been a fantastic experience; I have met a number of amazing people and it would be great to get to know some of you (whoever reads this) a bit more.

* Am I the only one who cannot think of that number and not think of Area 51?

***

Well, I suppose the most obvious place to start would be answering the question implicit in the preamble. And that question is: what is the thing that has been on my mind which I have increasingly been wanting to publish?

Answer: a few facts about myself and what makes me tick.

On one level, of course, this may seem strange. The content of Whatever Words, even – and particularly – from the very first post, ‘Sentimental’, have been highly personal; discussing the unhappy end of my engagement and collapse of my future as a British expat in America, and the effect all this has had on my mental health. All this, though, is almost incidental, being, as it was, the inspiration of the blog itself. And whilst I did at times hesitate in publishing certain facts, and repeatedly rephrased other thoughts, the detail I have gone into has always felt, in the end, appropriate.

Similarly, I wear both my heart and my passions on my sleeve with regards to things like musical and literary tastes, so whether or not I would write about those in any capacity was – before the idea of Whatever Words was even conceived – a non-question.

The thing I have been wanting to discuss – by and large; and, truthfully, not at such length as this post may so far be setting up for – is my politics. I have written in both the ‘About Whatever Words‘ section, and one particular piece, ‘The Road Less Travelled’, that politics is not something I wish to discuss on this blog. Indeed, in the latter I wrote that I had

set out for it to be entirely non-political – despite being very interested in history and politics – in the hope that the blog would act as an outlet where I could write, as I love to do, without engaging in contentious issues…

Well, I don’t intend to engage in any contentious issues here, or in any future posts. But I would like to briefly talk about my interest in politics, via the books I have read, and intend to read. The reason for this is that both my personal politics, and my deep and passionate interest in history, largely define me, and have accounted for a significant portion of my spare time over the past five or six years. It is for these reasons that, whilst I do not want politics to in any way define this blog, I do nevertheless feel that I am almost keeping shameful secret of this (not insignificant) part of my life. This feeling is also presently being exacerbated by my having become completely absorbed in a new non-fiction book, which is causing me to rekindle my abiding interest in its (and other related) topic(s). (This rekindling is, to my mind, long overdue and very much welcome.)

With all that in mind, I apologise in advance for the fact that what follows is not going to be vastly substantial in length nor philosophical or factual depth. Indeed, this will be fairly sparse but should, I hope, add something of a further dimension to the personality that has appeared to lurk behind my First 49* posts and highly enthusiastic Twitter feed.

So: politics. Put plainly; I’m a lefty. But as one (now somewhat old) song has it:

Watch your right
Watch your left
Watch the right
Watch the centre
And watch your back

Fiction is something I love, but which I tend to go back to once in a while having become burnt out on non-fiction. My bookcases are for the most part filled with books with titles such as Year 501: The Conquest Continues, The Politics of British Arms Sales since 1964, London Calling: Britain, the BBC World Service and the Cold War, A People’s History of the World, Barbarians & Civilization in International Relations, British Counterinsurgency, MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations, Superpatriotism, Killing Hope: US Military & CIA Interventions since World War II, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.

You get the idea. The book I am reading currently is Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman (2015), by Greg Grandin, whose book, Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (2006), is a must for anyone interested in either Latin America, US foreign policy, or imperialism generally. I have three shelves of books on Latin America. It’s a particular interest of mine.

Here’s some of the books I intend to read in 2017.**

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Why am I mentioning all of this? Partly because, now it’s out there, I’ve committed to it – I better get reading. But more so because, as you can probably tell, this – not least in the knowledge that reading is something I spend a lot of time doing – is a big part of my life. I’ve talked elsewhere about the detrimental consequences I feel have arisen from my fascination, and dedication, to the topics covered in the books mentioned above. However, that’s not my concern here. Rather, it is simply an honest acknowledgment of something about me which you were probably unaware of (unless you, reader, know me in real life). I love history and I love politics and I am passionate about both and could spend forever and a day talking non-stop about both. And it’s not that I’m ashamed or embarrassed of these loves and passions – far from it – it’s just that I do wish to keep this separate from my life with Whatever Words. I simply felt, at this point of 50 posts and 2000 tweets, that I was almost keeping it from whatever regular readers constitute an ‘audience’.

***

In an attempt to lighten the mood, let me turn to a different topic.

Music.

A year or two ago, I brought this boxset of Rancid vinyl.

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It contains seven of their eight studio albums (the eighth had yet to be released), their B Sides and C Sides compilation (2008), as well as their very first seven-inch EP (Rancid, 1992), across forty-six white and splattered red seven-inch records.

I have yet to listen to any of them.

***

Is there anything you’d like to share with fellow bloggers which you haven’t already?

* I’ve just realised that this is the same number as in Ernest Hemingway’s The Fifth Column and the First 49 Stories (1938) which, as a great fan of his writing, rather pleases me.
** The books are:

Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy since 1938
Inequality and the 1%
Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt
A Century of State Murder? Death and Policy in Twentieth-Centruy Russia
Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault
Burning 
Country: Syrians in Revolution and War
Apartheid: A History

The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict
Desert Shield to Desert Storm: The Second Gulf War
States of Emergency: British Governments and Strikebreaking since 1919
Drug War Capitalism
Black Gold: Britain and Oil in the Twentieth Century
Shadow of a Revolution: Indonesia and the Generals
Stories of Civil War in El Salvador: A Battle Over Memory

***

Thanks for reading.

Here’s to the next 50!

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