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A young person's game
Do the regular things that come with getting older get in the way of running a review site? Slarek ponders on how life, home, relationships and health get in the way of writing reviews, and even blogs | 13 November 2013

Before I get going I feel the creeping need to apologise for the recent absence of blog posts, particularly as I first started the blog to pass on information about what was happening with reviews and other content. There is, I would suggest, a touch of personal irony to this recent failure to deliver. I'll get to that at the end.

Recently it's occurred to me that running a site like this is really a young person's game. If that sounds like a prelude to a series of dialogue clichés starting with "I'm too old for this crap" then I'm sorry for going all Revenge of the Fallen on you (see the quotes at the top of that splendidly damning review if the reference passed you by, then be damned glad that it did). And when I say young person, I'm not talking the sort who spends all of his or her time studying diligently for their medical degree, but the sort of directionless obsessive that I was in my misspent youth.

I can't speak for others (nor would I want to – what an odd concept), but when I was in my late teens I really did eat, drink and sleep film, largely because I didn't have to concern myself about anything else. I was at college then, sure, but what was I studying? Film! I spent all my free time either at the cinema, working on film productions, or watching films on TV or at film theory classes or at the college film society I co-ran. When I wasn't doing that I was writing about film for essays, for the college magazine or just for the craic of doing so. I wrote a couple of paragraphs about just about every film I saw, typed on index cards and kept in boxes for theoretical later reference (they hardly ever got taken out again, if the truth be told). My shockingly poor diet consisted of whatever I was able to grab on the move, and if I did go on a date with a willing female, the cinema was always my venue of choice. And no matter how attractive the girl in question, if she claimed not to be that interested in movies then we soon parted company. Back then, you see, I rarely talked about anything else. This would have been the perfect time to start running a film review web site. Had the World Wide Web been up and running back then, of course.

But as you get older, things start to get in the way. Principal among these is the need to make enough money to have somewhere to live and shove food down your throat, and unless you've landed a job writing reviews for films, then this takes a huge bloody chunk out of what was once your film time. And that indefinable thing that ends up attracting us to one specific individual all too frequently pairs us with one whose taste in film only intermittently overlaps with ours. Throw kids into the mix and it complicates further, narrowing your scope for early evening disc and even cinema viewing. And once you get them off to bed and are able to relax with your equally knackered partner, try telling him or her that you fancy watching A Serbian Film and see how that goes down. With the passing of time our interests also tend to broaden, and film finds itself having to fight for our attention against whatever new hobby we have picked up on the way, sometimes undertaken purely to keep our partners sweet. We may take up a sport in an attempt to delay that inevitable heart attack for just a few years, and doing so discover that we actually enjoy it. Even the house or flat in which we eventually settle will take a perverse delight in messing with our free time, developing colourful and costly faults with the precision timing of a particularly spiteful demon armed with a stopwatch and a grudge.

I'll freely admit that I've never had to juggle my life around keeping children happy (over to you, Camus), but the rest of that lot are drawn from personal experience. Recently they have been sneakily ganging up on me, as my increasingly silly workload (the result of staff reductions forced by a string of government cutbacks – thanks for that you knot of odious public school toads) joins forces with a house that has developed suicidal tendencies to dominate my time. Thus instead of working on a review of Eureka's excellent Late Mizoguchi box set, I'm either nailed to Mac Pro trying to meet another unrealistic workplace deadline or teetering off a ladder waving a hoe taped to a broom handle in a hopeless effort to prod slowly collapsing guttering back into place. That a couple of our regular reviewers are currently otherwise occupied (personal or health issues, writing for other sites) does tend to add a degree of pressure, as at present all the disc reviews are being handled by the very two people who started the site. Ah, fills you with a warm glow of nostalgia, doesn't it? And as a cyclist and regular swimmer, even the time of year is conspiring against me. In the summer I hop on my bike and cycle the two miles to the pool and am changed and in the water in a matter of seconds. Hell, on a good day I will even cycle in my swimming shorts – if the pool had no doors I could leap in as I passed. But in the winter it's almost a military operation, as the process of dressing to do battle with wind and rain becomes akin to preparing for a jousting contest at the court of King Arthur, a process that has to be laboriously reversed and then repeated when I reach the pool. On top of all that, I'm itching like mad to spend just a little bit of time charging around the insanely large game world of Grand Theft Auto V, stealing and racing cars, parachuting off of mountains and punching people out for giving me lip.

Which brings me back to the aforementioned touch of personal irony that touches this whole issue: that for the past couple of months I've simply been too busy to write a blog entry about why I've been to busy to write a blog entry. Does that make any sense? Either way, our currently absent writers will hopefully be chipping in again in the not too distant future, and in the meantime we will keep reviews and blog entries ticking merrily over. There's plenty I want to write about – it's just finding the damned time...