Gin Lane ’22

You clicked on the link. Go figure. Thanks for stopping by.

Years ago, I used this blog as a repository for my work. If you’re interested in reading some of it, please go for it, although I’d probably warn against doing so. I’ve left a few of the less tedious posts up as an archive. Most of them are uncontroversial, somewhat banal posts that I wrote for my work at the time. Often derivative, only occasionally insightful, but almost always pretentious.

But I enjoyed writing. More than that. It’s what I hoped I would do. I harboured aspirations of writing fiction. Of political office. Of influence and impact.

Then I fell into teaching – I became busy, I kept my powder dry – wouldn’t want to cause a stir in the staff room with anything I wrote. In the decade since I blogged regularly, Instagram and TikTok have exploded. I became tired of seeing others self-publicise their pet-projects, I looked down on their efforts, often dismissing them as embarrassing or cliché. I convinced myself that to self-promote was to attention-seek. And so, I stopped, I mothballed this page. That was all a tidy rationalisation. In truth, I gave up.

In the years since, it was curious to see what happened to the writer who didn’t write. Lethargy and distraction crept in. Procrastination abounded. I wore the promise of potential like a badge – I’ve told countless people about the ‘great unfinished’ novel I’m sitting on, and yet a handful have seen more than a page. It was a throwaway line, a comfort blanket to make myself out to be more than I was. At its root, there was a truth to it. But I was kidding people, I was kidding myself.

But the desire sat there, like a stone in the shoe. So why write again now?

Maybe it goes back to Gin Lane.

Like most things you adopt in your early adulthood, I regret the handle. I’ve sat across from too many people, in too many bars, over too many drinks and had to answer ‘Do you mind me asking… why gin_lane? Do you just really like gin?’ Most the time these days, I take the easy route – ‘Yeah, I just love me a Gordons mate’. But there is another answer.

Cue the pretension for this post. And cue Wikipedia:

Beer Street and Gin Lane (see above) are two prints issued in 1751 by English artist William Hogarth in support of what would become the Gin Act. Designed to be viewed alongside each other, they depict the evils of the consumption of gin as a contrast to the merits of drinking beer.

On the simplest level, Hogarth portrays the inhabitants of Beer Street as happy and healthy, nourished by the native English ale, and those who live in Gin Lane as destroyed by their addiction to the foreign spirit of gin.

For reasons that escape me now, I found the historic moral panic about ‘Mother’s Ruin’ amusing. All this angst over gin. Something my mother enjoys on a weeknight to relax. When we zoom out and look at the greater picture across a greater span of time, it seems silly, comical even. That 300 years ago we were panicking about a drink that we now sip in bougee bars.

I saw some similarities in the panic and indignation that people historically had towards gin in some of the moral panics that capture the public animus in the age of Twitter. I adopted the name as a moniker, as a hat-tip to the idea that most of the things we spend energy and angst worrying about now will be seen as amusing all too soon. I wanted to try and inject that sense of perspective into the whirl of fury and outrage that you can see every time you scroll Twitter. And that seems relevant now more than ever.

That coupled with an urge to do something (insert gif of Shia Laboeuf) is why I’m starting again. But more on that another time.

So here I am.

And here you are. Maybe boredom struck and you’re already scrolling elsewhere. Maybe it’s just me and Mum. Hi Mum – I hope you’re enjoying your G&T.

What can you expect? A mix of stuff. I’ve a few posts ready to go. Some blogs like this, some essays, some poetry. Aiming for weekly posts. I’ll record audio for those who prefer to listen if there is an appetite. But I hope you’ll stick around. Here’s a taste of what’s to come:

  • Why you hate yourself: Just do something
  • The Age of Walter Mitty
  • Don’t forget the personality: You are not where you live

See you soon.

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