Warning: major rant approaching, and it’s nothing to do with crime fiction. But I have to get it off my chest.
All around me people seem to be intent on changing things.
Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting old and set in my ways, but my default reaction is – why? If the existing way/system/version works, what, exactly, is the point of changing it? It confuses people, upsets established routines, sometimes even affects the balance and harmony of the universe, which may sound pretentious, but could actually be why so many things go wrong in the world.
The changes around my life have certainly affected my own balance and harmony. A few examples:
The developers we spent last summer fighting, the ones who want to build houses in the beautiful green field opposite our house, came back with a vengeance a couple of months ago. We’re fighting again, of course we are – but the government have changed the legislation around planning permission for new houses because they claim there aren’t enough to go around. What planet are they living on? The ones people want to sell are hanging around for years, and many lie empty; mortgages are almost impossible to find. Don’t get me started on that one...
The small theatre in my home town, with which I’ve built strong links over the past twenty years, has fired the manager and engaged a new one who won’t talk to anyone, has completely redesigned the programming and hiked the seat prices to counter-productive levels, and seems set on editing plain old-fashioned drama out of the equation in favour of comedy nights and musical concerts. I have nothing against either of those – but the previous manager spent a lot of time and energy building solid audiences for high-quality productions by small companies: the lifeblood of theatre, just as small publishers are still the lifeblood of the book trade, regardless of the prolific (but evidence-free) claims that publishing is dead. I suspect the rationale behind this particular change is our old friend cost-cutting.
The newspaper for which I write theatre reviews has been completely redesigned courtesy of a new editor who wasn’t born when I started doing the job. It’s less than a year since the previous editor, also new at the time, gave it a major facelift which was actually a big improvement and didn’t involve much outlay of extra cash. This time consultants were involved... Need I say more? The new version is harder for the staff to work on, much harder on the reader’s eye, and seems to mean less space for anything that matters.
And then to cap it all, the lovely face cream I’ve used for ftymumble years has become almost impossible to find, and I’m afraid it may be about to be discontinued. Go on, laugh if you want to.
None of the above were broke. Why do people insist on fixing them? A lot of the time it’s called rebranding, which as far as I can see is marketing-speak for finding something to do to ensure marketing people stay in a job. There must be more rewarding ways of earning a living, surely.
You will gather from the above that I’m feeling stressed and out of sorts. I probably need a holiday. So I’m taking one. For the next two weeks my deputy blogger will be a guy called Chris Nickson brilliant author of a series of historical crime novels which, if you haven’t discovered them yet, you really should go out and find. I’ll leave it to him to tell you about them.
Back in a few weeks, guys.