Writing a regular column/blog/stream of consciousness, call it what you like, is very different to the kind of writing I did in a career that I “enjoyed” for many years

The use of parentheses? Because writing for me was a reasonably successful second career that I had rather than enjoyed whilst at the same time managing to pursue a reasonably successful acting career that I did enjoy – in both senses of the word.

Many writers love writing, probably most writers.  Why else would they choose to do it? For me, the words enjoy and write (for a living) never quite sat comfortably together.

When it came to acting on the other hand, I couldn’t leave the house fast enough every morning to get to rehearsals. 

What better way than to start the day than with tea, coffee and a bikkie, chit-chatting to fellow actors, often old chums, exchanging stories, gossip and jokes.

If you weren’t needed for the first scene, could there be any job more pleasant than settling down with a second cuppa and a read of the newspaper belonging one of the cast who was up there strutting his stuff?  You might even deign to have a quick look at your lines if you finished the reading the paper before you were called to rehearse.

And the beauty of all this, my first choice career, was that you got paid as well!

There was a down side, of course.  When you weren’t rehearsing, you were “resting”. Ah, there are those parentheses again.  “Resting”. That polite, apologetic, twee euphemism for being out of work.

 Unemployed.  Not earning. The occupational hazard of a career in “The Profession”.   Can’t get away from parentheses(es) this week.

When it came to writing however, especially for television and film as opposed to books, it was a different story.  It was all I could do to get up in the morning.

Having made the beds, loaded/unloaded the dishwasher, hung up the wet laundry, vacuumed as much of the house as possible – detailing all these household tasks will make more sense if you check out ‘Life in Laytonia: It’s Hard Work Doing Nothing’ (25th January 2021).

Once I ran out of chores – and in the early days these included soaking the Terry nappies in Napisan and BD (before dishwashers) ‘doing the washing-up’ – I would head, or rather trudge, to my office.

For the last 40 years my office in Laytonia has been on the top floor.  In my first 2-up one down abode, it was in the kitchen.  The offices in between have been forgotten in the mists of time and divorce.  Fortunately, the divorce has also been forgotten in the mists of time.

Writing these weekly ‘Life in Laytonias’ is a whole different ball game.  I don’t have to do it.  It’s my choice.  You could argue that I didn’t have to write in the first place. True.

But with all that hanging around in rehearsals or sitting at home waiting for the telephone to ring and in addition being intrinsically lazy, I felt compelled to use the time constructively.

The difference now as opposed to then is that I am not writing to order.  I don’t have to answer to anyone.  I am my own arbiter.

I may be my own arbiter, but believe me there are still those distractionary demons that a few weeks ago I referred to as Avoidance Avenue, tripping me up as I head for the computer.

Let me tell you that Avoidance Avenue is just one thoroughfare on the Writer’s Monopoly Board. 

Having travelled the length of Avoidance Avenue, you have to negotiate Procrastination Parade.  It’s a devilishly long and winding road that slows you down on your way to work.  Then you have meander down Dilly-Dally Drive.

To all intents and purposes, Dilly-Dally Drive looks like a dead end but suddenly – surprise, surprise – you spot a little snicket, quaintly named Putting Off The Moment Path.  There’s just no other way to your office, you have to take it and it can add another 10 or15 minutes to your journey.

And of course it’s essential to stop off at Cup of Tea Corner for a refreshing beverage that has got to help you work better.

Eventually you reach your office and switch on the computer with that eager ‘what shall I write today’ anticipation.  It’s my column/blog. I can write what I like.  In the words of the iconic Arthur Daley  ‘The World Is My Lobster’.

Come to think of it, I reckon I was in that episode of Minder in which the awesome George Cole uttered the wonderful ‘The World Is Your Lobster’ line.  (No doubt the Minder aficionados will tell me I’m wrong.)

I keep calling this blog a column because its precursor, ‘Layton on Lockdown’ started as a column for The Telegraph Online almost a year ago. 

But what is the difference between a column and a blog?

Difference between Blog and Column

A blog is a person’s personal slant on a topic

Hmm…That definitely puts me in the blog camp.

A column or an article is written with supporting documentation.  

Hmm…I’ve always supported my ‘Life in  in Laytonia’ columns/blogs with documentation where required.  Back then in the column camp.

A column or an article is owned by the newspaper or the magazine it is published in. 

No!  I retained all rights for my Telegraph Online pieces.  I own them.  Now I don’t know where I am – blog or column?

Writers may be compensated for their column work; blogs are written mostly for free.

That’s it – definitely a blog!!

And that brings me back to where I began.  Writing a regular blog is very different to the kind of writing I used to do because:

I can write about what the hell I want!

And that’s how I start every week – what the hell am I going to write about?

But I do enjoy it in every sense of the word…


This week’s photo: the 1969 publicity still for the first play I sold to the BBC.

Thirty Minute Theatre: Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat.

Hardly changed at all….