Opinion columns are funny things. As a columnist myself, I sometimes find the words just spew out as an unstoppable force, while at other times I am scratching around for something vaguely intelligent, witty or contrary to say.
Sometimes an idea will just pop into my head as a result of something I have read or overheard or, as is the case whenever I rant about fly-tipping, parking or dog poo, it will be because of something I have witnessed.
What I rarely stop to think too long about is what other people think of my opinion, if I did I would be a shivering wreck and my picture certainly wouldn’t be next to my byline on the page.
Of course, it is nice when people say they enjoy reading the column, it is even nicer when they say they agree with a point.
Obviously, the other side of the coin is not always so pleasant.
It is never nice to know that people disagree with you, but that’s life and many a lively stream of banter or light-hearted arguments has sprung forth from some of my column pieces.
I think the only time it is a disappointment is when someone misses the point completely or over-reads what I am saying, and gives extra weight to a throwaway line.
Occasionally I have been completely flummoxed when someone has quoted a solitary line back to me and has clearly made a complete character assessment based on that single - often tongue-in-cheek – sentiment.
But, I am a realist and I know that by putting my head above the parapet, I am likely to be targeted.
I also appreciate that it is a privilege to be able to air my views on a public platform.
Journalism gets a bad rap for a number of reasons, some quite justified, but there is also a very real reason why journalists and writers are an important part of society – fair, smart and independent voices are essential for democracy to function, and even a fortnightly column such as you read in the Lynn News are a vital part of that process.
And just as a complete aside: like many, I have no idea who Big Eye is and, apart from one exchange during which he said we were unlikely to see eye to eye on many issues, our paths never crossed.
But I will miss his steady presence as the other half of our page and I wish him well in the future and hope he keeps debating and questioning… even if it is just down at the pub.