Sunday, September 16, 2012

What are days for?

Music Mike, a fellow Beijing blogger with whom I have entered into frequent online correspondence over this past year, was kind enough to nominate me for a blog award last week (not for the vaguely artsy Froogville here, but for my more down-and-dirty 'drinking blog', Round-The-World Barstool Blues - which, coincidentally, turns six today). I felt I had to decline the honour, because, as I've noted before, I'm a bit down on the whole 'blog meme' thing; and, moreover, I really don't think there's anyone I could pass the award on to (the 'rules' demand that you extend the chain to ten new recipients!). Mike himself included nearly all the essential China blogs in his own nominations (and the few he missed are admirably covered in this fuller rundown from Danwei). Nearly all the other bloggers I used to read have hung up their spurs now (unplugged their keyboards?). It's Götterdämmerung time for blogging, I fear.

I also struggled with the award's demand to answer a batch of "What's your favourite...?" questions: favourite animal, colour, number, food, drink, flower, and... day of the week! (Only two of these inquiries would I have been able to come up with a straightforward answer to. Do I prefer Facebook or Twitter? Neither! [Although I concede that Twitter may have some utility, whereas Facebook is a pure social evil.] And do I prefer giving or receiving presents? Giving, naturally. Doesn't everyone?) I don't have one favourite anything. If I did nominate just one thing, it would only be a partial, misleading answer, a momentary, inconstant impulse; ask me again tomorrow and I'd say something completely different.

Whenever I try to do a 'favourite things' post, I always end up with a list - sometimes quite a long list; and that's only an illustrative sample rather than a comprehensive account of my tastes in the area. Over on my other blog, I started a series of 'Top Fives' a few years ago; even that format I find very difficult, much too limiting - I quite often find myself having to 'cheat' a little bit, throwing in one or two supplementary nominations... or I return to the topic after a little while with another list of five... and perhaps another, and another. 

What's my favourite food?? Where would I begin?! With a narrower frame of reference, like 'Favourite childhood comfort food' (baked beans on toast) or 'Favourite Beijing street food' (rou jia mo), I might have a chance of coming up with a single answer - but favourite food??!! No, the idea of having a single favourite something utterly baffles me.

And particularly for 'Favourite day of the week'. I might from time to time have enjoyed a particular day because of a regular activity associated with that day. For a long time in Beijing, Thursday was the best night of the week for me, because musician friends of mine in a couple of bands had long residencies at nearby music bars - Jianghu and Jiangjinjiu - on that night, and I'd go to hear them play almost every week. But all good things come to an end; Thursdays are nothing special to me any more. And there was never anything intrinsic to Thursday that made me like that day, only events that happened to take place on a Thursday.

More often, I think, people acquire negative associations with particular days; and preferred days may only seem better by contrast with these worse ones. Most people, I suspect would nominate a weekend day as their favourite, because of the freedom from work. That doesn't apply for me, though, because I am entirely freelance these days, and so quite often work just as much - or as little! - on the weekends as I do on any other day of the week.

In general, I find the mere idea of days oppressive, emphasising as it does the repetitive cycles not just of work but of our lives overall. My favourite days are those on which I have managed to lose awareness of what day of the week it is. That doesn't happen often enough.

All of which preamble was merely an excuse to post some more Larkin....


What are days for? 
Days are where we live. 
They come, they wake us 
Time and time over. 
They are to be happy in: 
Where can we live but days? 

Ah, solving that question 
Brings the priest and the doctor 
In their long coats 
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

1 comment:

Froog said...

In fact, just lately Thursday has once again become definitively my favourite day of the week because, having no work at the moment, I am able to make a regular appointment with the 11am rerun of Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom on HBO.