Sunday, March 06, 2005

Since you asked....

Not that Anonymous said... In January, regarding blogging, Andrew wrote:

"I’ll give it to, say, the end of February and see if I think it is worth carrying on with."And now, towards the end of Februray, he says:

"But even if it turns out bad, remember, it could have been so much worse...."True

What I have learned so far from blogging

It is massively easier to post in blog format than to faff around with Demon. The process of updating the old page involved a lot of swearing at Word Templates and the Demon’s FTP homepage system and getting an e-mail from some kind soul pointing out that all the links I pasted in manually are broken. The process of updating the Blog involve, er, typing some text in. This is cool. Someone is going to tell me that the solution would be a more complex web-authoring tool, aren’t they?


I am congenitally incapable of writing anything short, snappy, or to the point. I set out to write a quick comment along the lines of “Did you hear Prescott on Today today? What a twit” and find I’ve written a three page explanation of socialism with special reference to third season Babylon 5. Which slightly removes the original purpose which I had for this page.

I have been posting stuff with more frequency. This is probably a good thing. But the claim that I would post first drafts without editing turned out to be a blatant lie.


There are still some idiots in cyberspace


My relationship with the Guardian is like a messy divorce, except without the psychological trauma, heartaches, messing up of the kids' lives, lawyer’s fees, years of recrimination and regret, so actually not even slightly like a messy divorce.

I have given up counting how often I have said “That is it, I am never reading this rag again”. But somehow two thirds of my rants seem to begin with the immortal line “I read something stupid in the Guardian this morning.” Or at the very least "I heard something interesting on Radio 4”. You have no idea how ashamed I am of this.

Just think, there are Americans out there who don’t know what Radio 4 is, and there is no way you can explain it to them, because "talk radio" or even "high brow talk radio" doesn't give the slightest hint of what a wierd thing Radio 4 actually is. " One of the guys from my office asked me what sort of music they played on Radio 4, and seemed genuinely confused when I told him that the answer was “None at all.”

If Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a success, do you think we’ll get a big screen adaptation of Just a Minute?

I have absolutely no intention of keeping an on line diary. I can’t write about my friends, because I would like to keep them. I can’t write about my job, because I would like to keep it. I can’t write about my family because I am going to keep them whether I like it or not. Regrettably, the rest of my life consists of “Woke up. Listened to Radio 4. Got on bus. Read Guardian. Came home. Listened to Radio 4. Watched TV. Read book. Watched DVD. Listened to Radio 4. Read comic book. Went to bed.” Which is what I am writing about. Sorry.

Is it true that William Shatner himself personally coined the expression "Get a life"?


I like the immediacy of feedback which the blog format allows. When I post things to the web-page, I generally spend two days thinking “Oh god. I’ve done it now. Everybody is going to think I am a loony / a fascist / a pompous fool / a terrible geek. My family will disown me. People will shun me in the street. I will be forced to travel to Liverpool and apologize in person”. Eventually, I may get an e-mail which says something along the lines of “I enjoyed the article. Thanks for writing it”. Once this happens, I feel fine and no longer care what anyone else thinks. (In a good way.) So then I start ego-googling for “Rilstone-Blair-Wagner” to see if anyone else noticed that I exist.

In the blog format, I get told I’m a pompous fool within an hour of posting the article.. This gives me a big warm feeling. However, if I am not terribly careful, I will spend all my writing time writing witty response to people who make comments, which tends to reduce the page to the Andrew and Sam show. (And note that I get around to responding to twitposts, but not to interesting and sensible ones. “Ah yes. A very interesting and wise post from someone who knows far more about the subject than me. I shan’t respond to that until I have time to do so properly”)


“I do not have time to make it shorter.” In first or second drafts, I tend to say the same things several times in different words. When there isn’t a long editing process, I sometimes repeat myself. I have a tendency to make several attempts at making the same point, and I don’t always have time to go back and delete the redundancies.


Someone who posts to is using a quote from me in his .sig. This pleases me quite disproportionately.


I am not convinced that my stuff suits this format. A comment about Doctor Who, followed by a definitive resolution of the problem of evil, followed by a review of a movie feels incongrous. I preferred the way in which the old page was split up into different subject areas so that people who, for some unaccountable reason, cared about what I thought about C.S Lewis didn’t have my opinions on Cerebus foisted on them.

While ego-surfing, I noticed that some American school teacher appeared to have set one of my Lewis pieces to her class as a homework assignment, complete with comprehension questions to make sure that they had read it. I think it was Bernard Shaw who refused the BBC permission to do a radio programme for schools based on his work, because “his plays were not designed as instruments of torture.”

Sometimes I have my doubts about this article stuff anyway. “Go away and write a book” I say to myself. “Write the definitive work on Doctor Who or Marvel Comics or the Bible or something. Or else bloody well go back to college and learn political philosophy properly. Then no-one apart from your lecturers will have to be subjected to your opinions, and they get paid for it. I did an evening class in London a few years or go back, and was the only person who got “distinction” on one of his essays. I believe I could cash it in 1/27th of an undergraduate degree.”


I may go back to sticking articles on the old site, or something like it, when they are finished, but keep this going for the off-the-cuff pieces and general chat.

I’ll think about it and get back to you.


Thanks for asking.