and did not speak
neither did they touch.
creased like unironed shirt
and her tired eyes.
That is all,
so why do I moralise?
23 October 1979
Fodder. Often cannon fodder. It’s a word, like so many words, I’ve used for years and never really thought much about:
1. Feed for livestock, especially coarsely chopped hay or straw.
2. Raw material, as for artistic creation.
3. A consumable, often inferior item or resource that is in demand and usually abundant supply.
My current novel is about a writer who spends much of the book—decades, in fact—sitting on a park bench watching the world go by. Of the people who wander into his crosshairs he says, “they were fodder, ordinary people going about their ordinary lives, food for thought.” And being a writer?
It’s not being ordinary, not going home having your dinner and sitting through some inane made-for-TV movie with a six pack for company and to anaesthetise reality. If you’re not a writer what are you?
That was what he wanted to capture, what it’s like being normal, not being him because he never thought of himself as normal. Were he the norm everyone would be a writer. And they weren’t. Nor were they artists of any description. Normal people went to the football or the bingo, they got married, had kids and affairs and they knew about mortgage rates and credit cards. He was surrounded on all sides by a nimiety, a too-muchness, of normalcy; it was depressing.
Not everyone has a novel inside them but everyone has a story. I read a book a while back by Amos Oz in which an author spends a few hours making up stories about the people he encounters in his day to day life. That book made so much sense to me. I’m not as bad as Oz but I do remember quite clearly the very first series of Big Brother before it got silly. I was quite addicted. Ordinary people doing ordinary things. I could watch them for hours.