Little yarns

Little yarns

It could be a charming slice of ones life or merely a take on lifes foibles.

Frankly, it may not be the ideal thing to do to ignore the important front or the popular back pages and jump right into the middle. 

But there are readers who, the moment they get hold of the newspaper, flip the pages for their favourite column. Not for them the machinations on the political field or the antics of sportspersons and celebrities.  Nor do they care for a story like man bites dog.

Even on the edit page, they skip the profound commentary articles and topical editorials with their habitual nonchalance and turn a blind eye to the letters column.  Expectantly, they size up the ‘middle’ of the day.

It could be a charming slice of one’s life or merely a take on life’s foibles and failures.  Sometimes it is simply a tale to tickle your funny bone or something inspirational. It could be just about anything. Whatever the content, it is packed concisely as a box item, appearing in the centre of the august editorial page.

A friend of my late father read ‘middles’ religiously, maintaining that the day should begin on a nice, happy or funny note. Politics and crime is depressing news, he condemned and reveled in ‘middles’ the first thing in the morning.  In his retirement, he occasionally wrote them.

Then there was our family doctor’s wife who relished ‘middles’ as much as comics and wondered why ‘middles’ were so short.  I wish they were longer, she often lamented to which her husband quipped, that she should graduate to short stories or novels.

I, for one,  began reading ‘middles’ during my college days when one of my lecturers told me that it is the only column a non-staffer can write for, aside from the magazine section and also earn a small remuneration. It is a good starting point for a budding writer he advised, urging me to give it a shot.

When I wrote my first ‘middle’ and posted it (yes, in the 80s there was no email), I didn’t think it would see the light of day. Days and weeks went by and one sunny morning it appeared in print. It gave me a high, sparking a long-lasting romance with ‘middles’.

However, I must admit the debut ‘middle’ seemed a flash in the pan.  Subsequent pieces failed to make the grade, bouncing back with politely worded rejection slips.  But as a never-say-die optimist, I continued writing, learning from my flubs and fine-tuning the piece until I felt it were good to go.

And despite the rejections, the writer’s blocks, the demands of a job and family, I carried on my affair with ‘middles’. Arguably, ‘middles’ may not be great literary stuff but they hold their own among the columns of a broadsheet.

Indeed, there is something inexplicably appealing about these mostly personal yarns that provide some light mental nourishment. Equally, something you can turn to daily and hope that your morning cuppa tastes good. Not surprising then, some readers plump for the ‘middle’ before anything else.

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