When anyone starts out to do something creative - especially if it seems a little unusual - they seek approval, often from those least inclined to give it. But a creative life cannot be sustained by approval, any more than it can be destroyed by criticism - you learn this as you go on.
If the government announced that it was going to allocate a vast tranche of education funding purely to the pupils at the best public schools, there would be a national outcry - and yet this is precisely what the Olympics represents in terms of sports funding.
Death, the real simile for disease - for when we are ill, do we not always feel like we are dying, even if it's only a little? - remains, despite our secularism, the most metaphoricised phenomenon of all.
Of course, with well-masticated food playing the role of social glue, it's absolutely essential that everyone clear their plate. Sod the starving kiddies in Africa - it's the overfed ones here we need to worry about.
That tertiary education is under a sustained assault by a political and - it often seems - social consensus that equates all education with training for increased productivity, only makes academe a still more promising environment for a contrarian.
I am a regular, if not exactly enthusiastic, patron of my local bookshop. I try to buy at least some books there because I cling to the belief that it's important to maintain those businesses which put a human face on the exchange of money for goods and services.
I can't remember who it was who advocated that you should march with the left and dine with the right but I've often concurred, taking the view that I personify the great tolerance of Britain by consenting to being regally entertained. Besides, there is a degree of truth in the view that while the left are worthier, the right are wittier.
If we bought everything on the Internet, our eyes and mouths and nostrils would probably begin to film over with a tegument - one initially tissue-thin and capable of being removed each morning, but which gradually thickened and hardened until we were imprisoned in our own tiny minds.
You don't need to know this - but here goes: due to some acquired infantilism, I feel compelled to fall asleep listening to the radio. On a good night, I'll push the frail barque of my psyche off into the waters of Lethe accompanied by the midnight newsreader - on a bad one, it's the shipping forecast.
It would seem that I, who never could make much sense of physics when I was at school, have now gained a strong sense of Einsteinian space-time. I am free of the nimbyism of now, and feel a strong kinship with both the dead and the unborn.
The paradox of modernism is, writers make the decision to work with the continuous present, and to work with... stream of consciousness, as it's called, for emotional reasons, and the main emotional reason is verisimilitude. I mean, this is what surprises people: Life is not in the simple past.
In my view, the plangent artificiality of a lot of creative work results from the fact that the people who write novels, direct films and put on plays tend to read too many novels, watch too many films and go to too many plays.
The British and American literary worlds operate in an odd kind of symbiosis: our critics think our contemporary novelists are not the stuff of greatness whereas certain contemporary Americans indubitably are. Their critics often advance the exact opposite: British fiction is cool, American naff.
Not only is the statistical madness an assault on individuality, it's also one on temporality too. Statistics - even when accurate - are only an image of the past that can then be Photoshopped before being pasted on to the future.
Life, it is true, can be grasped in all its confused futility merely by opening one's eyes and sitting passively, a spectator on the stands of history - but to understand the social processes and conflicts, the interplay between individual and group, even the physicality of human experience, we have need of small-scale models.
The future continues to preoccupy me as a reliable source of hopes, fears and anxieties, but increasingly the present seems to have no outstanding qualities of its own, being merely a way-station through which events travel to the vast shadow lands of the past.
It is fair to say that insofar as sport is taken seriously by those who play it, then to that extent their conduct in play - their ability to deal with loss or victory, their ability to meld strategic thinking and brute force - can be taken as a small-scale model of how they, or others like them, might behave in life.
This is the paradox for me: in failure alone is there any possibility of success. I don't think I'm alone in this - nor do I think it's an attitude that only prevails among people whose work is obviously 'creative'.
I don't think in terms of that bizarre tautology 'value for money' in my literary and journalistic work - and nor will I in my academic role. However, if I don't believe I'm helping my students towards a fuller and more empowering relationship with the world, then I'll resign.
I'm an anarchist. I'm implacably opposed to heirarchical systems of power and control. I also mistrust crowds, as they often operate according to their lowest common denominator. In terms of evolutionary psychology, the crowd is very close to a herd of stampeding wildebeest.
From time to time, as if heaven-sent to annoy, someone will ask me if I'm self-disciplined when it comes to my work. I usually look witheringly at them and snarl, 'What do you think?' I mean, how do you imagine anyone writes a quarter of a million words a year for publication?
Sometimes, when I hear people without experience of addiction blame addicts for their behaviour, I feel like saying to them: 'You simply don't understand - how can a child be held responsible for doing such a dreadful thing to himself?' But then again, at other times I have to acknowledge: it was done wilfully.