In the early days of lockdown (can you remember that far back?) lots of us made a point of trying to keep in touch with friends we could no longer meet up with. The more technically enabled went for Zoom while people like me (I don’t even have a camera on my computer) used telephones. It was nice. My son, who is very much of the text based generation being big on things like WhatsApp, said that actually talking to friends was a novel and exciting development.

As time has passed, these conversations have become less novel and exciting. They seem more likely to proceed thus:

“So, how are things with you?”
“Oh, you know. Same old, same old. And you?”
“Oh same thing. Nothing much is happening around here.”

Long ruminative silence.

I’m beginning to feel the same way about my blog posts and other social media. Time was when every few weeks I would write something about an interesting place I’d visited. Because my blogs are so much about history, this would often be a discussion of a site of some historical interest. Sometimes, though, it would just be a pretty part of the countryside or a tango club I’d enjoyed or some random, but potentially interesting or amusing, happening in my life. As we begin to open up, this may start up again, but so far the Great Reopening has been fairly nominal. Most places can’t survive economically on the income that they can generate from the number of people they are allowed to have in and those that are open can have a distinctly half abandoned and depressing air. So what to write about?

Last week saw the republication of The White Rajah and, quite honestly, I could write about this for weeks. I’ve already discussed the swords on the cover and enough people were interested in that to make me feel that I will soon do something even more geeky about metallurgy and sword-smithing. I’ve written about James Brooke (the eponymous White Rajah) and will doubtless write about him again. I can wax lyrical about Sarawak (where the book is set), its people and history. But I do look quite carefully at the audience for the blog each week and the sad truth is that people are already beginning to feel that I have perhaps overdone it talking about this book.

So what should I write about instead? Every so often I do ask people for ideas – I do believe (up to a point) in giving the audience what it wants. But I get surprisingly little feedback. You can put any ideas you might have in the comments section – I do always read it – or try to reduce them to 280 characters and tweet them to me (@TomCW99). Failing any suggestions, you’ll probably find some photographs of Wales next week, as the lifting of restrictions means that I can at least visit there. Of course, I do post the odd book review through my blog. With life still fairly restrictive in many ways, you can always escape into a book. Speaking of which, have I mentioned that The White Rajah is now available on Kindle and in paperback?

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