Why 45 miles?

I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember, but for some reason I have never pursued it seriously.

This isn’t my first attempt at a blog.  As a young boy I kept a diary for a brief period, and I once had a website which I developed around 2003, which started out as a medium to display my newly revived artwork (water colours and oils) and to showcase my photos taken as I merrily travelled the world with my work.

At its height, worldtraveller.me.uk had 12,500 views per month and I applied  for and won a huge list of website awards.

To keep that level of enthusiasm, I had to post something EVERY day, and I had to be fairly creative to keep my followers satisfied – and so the website expanded into every walk of life.  But remember this was a manually coded web site, originally in html (I got quite adept at writing page source code), then with a WYSIWYG compiler program called hotmetal (Whissywig – sounds like something from the Muppets Christmas Carol but stands for “What You See Is What You Get) and just before it’s death, I converted to Flash and used a cut down version called Swish, which was a totally different animal.

Anyway, I digress.  Worldtraveller ran out of steam much the same time as my company ran out of overseas work and I found myself with little to report on.  And of course Facebook came along and what could be an easier medium to report on your daily activities?  But not so great when you felt an essay coming along.

I digress again.   Since then, I’ve been hankering to write a novel of some description.  But as you will glean in future posts, I have an appalling memory, and ideas, good ideas, flash past and before I’ve walked another step, or driven around the next bend, they have gone as quick as they came.  I could kick myself at times.  On one long drive back from Glasgow I actually came up with a cracking sci-fi novel, complete with a full plot, lots of main characters, twists in abundance and a rivetting finish.   It was so vivid I felt that there was no need to write it down, and yet after a good night’s sleep, I couldn’t recall a thing about it.

A couple of years ago, while on a works visit to Slovakia, my good friend Josef Vodehnal (Czech) showed me a powerpoint presentation of his life.  Sounds a bit pretentious, but not when I tell you he was in his sixties I believe at the time (I was in my mid fifties) , he lived and escaped from the communist occupation of Czechoslovakia in the 70’s, fleeing to the UK and taking up a trade as a groundskeeper in the UK until he finally moved back home when the country was liberated.

He has a fascinating life and many equally enthralling stories to tell and his powerpoint, with so many old photos and news clippings, didn’t even scratch the surface.

Joe encouraged me to create one too, and I did actually start, but my life is nowhere as interesting and everything I did seemed so mundane by comparison.  Plus, my planning of it was fairly awful and with my random memory spurts, I would think of a topic and promptly forget what it was.

Within a couple of days It also occurred to me that by the time I finished it, there may be no one left who was interested enough to read it!  Plus I’m sure both powerpoint and my laptop would have ran out of memory long before I got into my teens.

And then three things happened.  One, I decided to re-invent my website but limit it to my artwork, and not include a journal.  That got me back into a frame of mind where I started considering writing a novel again.  Two, my daughter started her own blog.   And she is also a superb writer, and I eagerly await every post.    She uses WordPress, which I had used before (I used Wix for my website which I found a little easier to manage) and I quickly found myself working in wordpress once more.

Third, and most importantly, my car nearly ran out of fuel.

So I’m driving down the road one day shortly after my 55th birthday, in my new (old) Volvo complete with new personalised number plate, and contemplating how much of a rut I’ve found myself in.    Life had become routine, and although routine is easy, it often isn’t compelling.

And at that moment, I noticed my dashboard change to display a message.

45 miles to empty tank.

And I thought.  Yeah, that’s about right.  I’m fifty five, and if I live to be a hundred like my dear grandma (she was 101 at the time) then I’ve got 45 years left, and then I too will be just another empty tank.

It got me thinking, I shouldn’t waste another minute achieving my goals and ambitions.  It’s time to get the much cliche’d bucket list out, and with that i had my first Eureka moment.  45 miles to empty tank.  Maybe not grammatically correct, but then I can blame the Swedes for that.  As in Swedish, not the root vegetable.   Volvo.   Try to keep up.

And it all fell into place.  My friend Joe writes a blog in Czech giving advice to fellow groundsmen.  If he can do it, I’m certain I can (but not in Czech obviously).   I have a title, I have my theme – my very own “autoblogography”, and I know someone who might be able to give me a hand if I get stuck.

And before I could forget my idea, my car got low on fuel again and reminded me of my catchy yet cryptic title.  And as you will find, I like cryptic.  I like being mysterious.

So, here we are.  45 miles.  A perfect repository for me to transfer my thoughts and experiences for posterity, something maybe (assuming the site survives that long) that my kids and grandkids can look back on and get a better understanding of me, of my life before our family arrived, and maybe they will see a side of me that they didn’t fully appreciate existed.

And maybe Joe will check in now and again too!  I hope so, because I’ve given up on the powerpoint* !


*Footnote:  I did actually complete the powerpoint autobiography in 2018 and it has had one single but very important airing.  But that’s another story…

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