I’m working on my latest book – another collection of old articles, mainly, but hopefully corralled into some kind of order. I’ve come almost to the end, and a new ‘Concluding’ chapter; at which point I thought I should look back at my ‘Introduction’, which set out my original plans for the book, in order to be able to return to these. (That’s always a good way to finish.) I was surprised however to discover that what the book has become is nothing like what I originally intended for it; so I’m going to have to write the Introduction – not hopefully the meat of the book – all over again.
This is how it often happens with writing – my writing, anyway. You begin with an idea, and start developing it, only for the idea itself to deviate in entirely different directions. It’s a bit like pushing one of those supermarket trolleys with defective wheels – it goes where it wants to. That’s not a bad thing, of course; it means that one is prepared to change one’s mind as one meets with new obstacles. The odd thing is that I do that best through the process of writing, rather than simply in my head. I imagine that having to put an idea down on paper forces one to define and reconsider it. If I didn’t write, I really would be stuck in my ways and prejudices.
So this is one reason why I’m not blogging much just now. Another is that I can’t think of much new to say. On Brexit, for example, others have already said it all. And – as I’m writing presently in my Conclusion – History, my sole claim to expertise, is not all that much help in explaining what is going on today. Not in terms of ‘precedents’ or ‘lessons’, anyhow. Were there any leading politicians in Britain’s past quite like Boris and Nigel?