Sunday, March 31, 2002

You would have thought that the major TV networks would have been better able to handle the news of the Queen Mother's death. A combination of extreme old age and recent poor health compounded by the emotional trauma of the recent death of her daughter Princess Margaret, should have been enough for them to have been well prepared to flick a switch and go into "State as One Community" gravitas mode.

BBC Two went into shock freeze frame mode depicting something like:" Important announcement on BBC One coming up". Someone had forgotten to tell anyone at BBC One which continued to show" Dazzling Bloomers", subjecting unwitting viewers to Wogan's execrable witty asides and painful puns. More mistakes gleaned from unseen footage were being trotted out to tickle the Nation's funny bone.

By this time Sky News and CNN were well into their succession of film loops and response interviews. It was as if the BBC as a national institution was caught in the headlights of the breaking news of the death of another national institution and stunned into inaction. Eventually Peter Sissons broke into BBC One - whether BBC Two unfroze their screen I shall never know- looking startled and unprepared - voice tremulous, hands fidgeting - and made the announcement.

Just as it seemed BBC had settled itself, there followed a frustratingly long library shot of the Royal Ensign filling our screens to the strains of the National Anthem. A tired and lumbering convention obviously extracted from one of their ancient protocol guides.

Even this breathing space didn't stop Sissons and the BBC making an arse of it. As he gamely sought for the right words, questioning official Royal Watchers and Court Correspondents, Sissons dropped a succession of clangers - " The last time you saw her did you realise that she was on the way out?" he asked one them.

Groaning I switched to CNN. I don't know why but I am always interested in other nation's perspectives on our national obsessions in particular anything which seems newsworthy enough to attract their attention. I though I misheard the anchorwoman refer to the Queen Mother as "Queen Mum", but I didn't, and as if to validate the expression up it popped in written form next to her photograph " Death of the Queen Mum."

Not really the British style - too folksy, too informal, but perhaps demonstrating a certain charm. Difficult to find excuses though for the repeated references to the death of Queen Elizabeth 11 which followed. Even the BBC in its most unpreparedness wouldn't make a mistake like that. Surely not.

Saturday, March 30, 2002

Why make further excuses? Why resist the urge when it is so strong, to write about the trickiness of learning the craft of blogging? I shall stay loyal to earlier pledges about not allowing the theme to dominate; but to make superhuman efforts to avoid it completely would be disloyal to how important it feels to me at the moment.

Of course, it's not really important at all on any scale other than to enrich a sense of personal fulfilment, but it is sufficiently so to bother my mind and occupy my thoughts for much of my time (when I really should be thinking about other things!).

I suppose I am an improver - isn't that what they used to call apprentices once they had began the long road towards expertise in their chosen craft but still had much to learn? I damn well hope I am improving as I seek to discover and unravel the mystery of what makes a good blog ...good.

I think (and what do I know), that I am a case of " Searching for his voice". What should I write about and how should I write it seems to sum up what's going on in my head each time I sit facing the Blogger posting area and listening to what Anthony Burgess would have called its "Impatient hum."(The great man was actually explaining in his autobiography why he refused to upgrade his writing implement from manual to electric typewriter).

I could describe myself as "A work in progress"- though I probably shouldn't as that is a job for others should I ever be critiqued. I do find myself wondering though, "should I write like this", "Is there too much/little humour. Am I coming over as too earnest or self evaluative or important. Is self depreciation charming or merely irritating - "shit you'd think he was the only one who was ever a beginner!" Shouldn't I be peppering the whole piece with illuminating links, quotes, and amazing facts as seen for example in the Notes and Queries section of the Guardian.

Then again why do I care, the subtle counter tucked away, buried within the outer margins of this front page is testament to my unfashionable-ness. I am speaking only into cyperspace wilderness therefore I can say anything, anyhow. But my ego is being tickled and an eye may chance to fall.....

Thursday, March 28, 2002

My Internet connection and my brain are suffering from the same affliction today. The ability of either to respond to promptings of any kind is being met with a sort of clunking grudgery. Watching the web loading bar move at excrutiating slow speeds as I trawl vainly for inspired themes - I realise it's merely mimicking the thought processes going on in my head. Poor connection, poor concentration - they are related, united in the project of " A Stodgy Day".

A well crafted piece including inspirational links, snazzy references, firecracker prose and insightful allusions...Ahem ( cue playful look with tongue probing cheek)... will have to wait until I am mechanically and intellectually functional. (Lost connection and lucid consciousness three times during that last sentence!)

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

I have been posting to this Blog now for about a week, and I have been pretty sparing with the insertion of links. It's just as well because I have just noticed that most of the ones I have tried to create, don't work!

Hmm. I shall return with greater skill.

I would hate to be labelled a fuddy-duddy, but I'm glad that we are moving towards legislation that would make it illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving. It seems to me such an unbelievably (albeit unconscious) selfish act. It's not so very different from the mindless chump who forgets his shotgun is loaded, and, on the way to his target shooting gun club plays with it and accidentally ends up shooting somebody. There are of course plenty of laws preventing this from happening which at least minimalise the likelihood that someone could be injured in this way. But at the moment the motor vehicle can still be driven legally in a mindlessly lethal manner.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Before setting out into this world of bloggery I made a silent promise to myself not to turn this or any other blog into one of those "Diary of a Beginner" type affairs. You know the sort of thing where you might read: "Struggled until one o'clock this morning trying to upload my wasname into the thingie, so I rang my mate Ron and he said...".

But; I did struggle last night, fiddling with my template (sounds rude) and wondering whether to ring my mate Ron - funny I do have a mate called Ron, though what he knows about Internet related matters and the phenomenon of blogging you could probably etch onto an ant's testicle. He probably thinks blogging is a posh pronunciation of blagging so "to blog" would be to acquire something through a kind of cutesy guile -"blag" actually means "steal" but it's seldom used in that context. I digress. I cut and I pasted, and twiddled and fussed, and with a migraine that would have turned a bison into a fragile, eye weeping wimp, (these are the beasts that crunch heads together for fun), logged-out with more victories than losses. So some success, but someway to go.

Dipping my toe into the creative, chaotic world of webloggery seems a bit like trying to jump onto a playground roundabout as a child whilst it's being pumped into ever more improbable speeds by the freakish kid, big for his/her years. First you need to be brave - danger lurks in the shape of the segmenting bars - get your timing wrong, and pain and embarrassment are guaranteed. You calculate the speed of the contraption, you factor in the danger areas and workout with a nature-given sense of precision timing when to jump on. And you make it. Once on, further challenges lie ahead. The spin-hardened faces of those who jumped on ages ago look at you and know you are in pain. Their stomachs, impervious to the sickly confused messages yours is getting, are hardened. One day, after time has woven its magic, yours might be too.

Monday, March 25, 2002

Watching a low budget Australian film recently I was given a timely lesson in street wisery over book learning. Raw agile thinking versus semiotics. There was a scene where a man was watching his sexy mini skirted girl ( I don't know what relationship they had but it was looking terminal here) walking away from him. Once she had reached a certain distance from him he called to her. She turned around and he blowed her a kiss. She turned back round and continued walking, but as she did so she reached around and lifted her skirt to reveal a taut buttock, and smacked it. A feisty girl I thought, demonstrating the curves that would no longer be his pleasure. "Kiss my ass" was the more accurate observation made by my ( he would admit this) uncultured friend, alert (unlike me) to the the symbolism. Hmmm, perhaps my brain requires a few tweaks.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

I feel somewhat deflated today and fear it will affect my writing, so a shorter entry might be advantageous to all. One of my other weblogs, I have two, not because I am greedy (though I am afflicted with that sin sometimes), but because as a weblog newbie I thought it might be an idea to have one that could be used as a practice area. The idea behind this idea was to flit about with html (still weird science to me) and to delve tremblingly into the (for me) forbidding zone of the template. In short it was a place where my experimentally-induced foul ups, my naive tweakings and hesitant flirtations could languish, unseen and of no interest or value to anyone.

But dear reader, some semi-literate got into it. How, I shall probably never know. Its title was changed and my entries consisting of a mixture of error filled efforts and a few little victories ( how to include email-a considerable mini conquest for me) removed. And in their place, oh the pain, the shame; several sentences of mispelt travesty making clumsy reference to my plight. Grrr. You fucker!!

Of course an email to Blogger is winging its way to whomsoever - but my confidence has taken a bit of a blow.

Saturday, March 23, 2002

I wish blogspot incorporated a spellchecker on its posting page. This morning I was carrying out a relaxed browsing session over my last post where I discovered what can only really be described as a howler; instead of writing the word psychological I chose an unusual orthographical variant "pschological". As I allowed this word crime to sink in, the full (potential) implications began to unfold in my mind; I shall be labelled a moron, an illiterate. Of course my reasons for hiding the full value of "potential"in parentheses is that to look a fool you have to be seen to do something foolish. I remain stubborn in my belief that until I win my spurs by means of several months (perhaps years) of decent blog posts I shall not be seen in either a wise or foolish guise.

Friday, March 22, 2002

"Let's go". I've always wanted to begin a sentence with the urgent, finger - snapping image those two words together create. I remember it from my Martin Amis phase and recall it was the first sentence in his book Dead Babies. Actually I've just checked and have discovered it is not the first sentence - more a sub-heading for the first chapter. Perhaps more importantly, I think I have just created my first link following my less than successful efforts yesterday. I will not labour the point nor will I try another until I know whether it works!

I haven't read a Martin Amis novel for a while though I have them all on my bookshelf. His style is probably susceptible to phase reading. His words and phrases are perfect to graft onto any smart lad's vocab in the college bar - learned wisecrackery and sparky inventiveness with the total acceptance that the foulest of tongues don't neutralise the sense of cool. But once out of that milieu it's much harder to impress the wife and kids with it.

I wonder why bad language is considered bad. Who or what determines the formal/formal-social unacceptability of for example, the F word. This is a single syllable verb which could be used with greater ease, accuracy and simplicity to describe a natural sexual act than any of its long-winded euphemisms, most of which demand two or three words to describe the same thing. Concision surely must be embraced over verbosity (he says ramblingly).

The problem seems to be that offensiveness has been invested into it and as such its utterance is a taboo. Like all taboos such as acts of crime, theft, assault or worse, it should be shunned by right thinking society. Civilised socities need taboos and language is part of civilised society, therefore certain acts and words must be considered wrong. Consequently the word is adopted as a blaspheme and impolite discourse filler. If it wasn't the word Fuck or one of its scandalous companions which refer to human anatomy or wastage there would be other taboo words in their place. I suppose as there is a line between acceptable and non acceptable practice, likewise with language.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

I am feeling the the strains of being a weblog neophyte. Doing my usual trolling around various news websites I kept a wary eye on any interesting nugget that might provide material for today's entry. And I found one. Combining my love of words, societal and cultural matters and drinking to excess (only when circumstances dictate) I stumbled (!) across the BBC Booze Programme's 141 words that describe, in some context or other, the physical and psychological state of being drunk.

The list is chock-full of interesting sounding neologisms such as "befuggered" and "fecked" and many more. But sadly this entry is going to run out of steam pretty soon as reach the point I set out to make. I had intended to provide a link to the website from which these references have been culled so as to illuminate and enlighten fully my single reader ( Hi Gran!). Sadly I failed. All efforts to create the link were frustrated by " page not available".

This is a curve of learning of hitherto unknown steepness. I shall persist.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I am suffering the spiteful pains of a most brutal mouth ulcer at the moment. I seem to have been vulnerable to these things most of my life. Like the spots I endured during adolescence I always believed that the current affliction was the last - the body is changing all the time and this is "just a phase".

I can go months without them, believing I've seen off the last of these pernicious monsters, then seemingly for no particular reason, the first signs (located by salty food or toothbrush) of a pin prick sized "white head." At first a subtle reddening will accompany it as the blood's anti bodies rush to neutralise the intruder. Later the minute white dot and red ensemble develops into a transparent yellow/grey oval shaped and shallow blight, set in a sea of vicious red - ready to bring misery to its host for days.

Impervious to all treatments I have yet to find a satisfactory comforter or cure. Still, it has provided material for this blog - write about what you know seems to be the advice, and I know these things bloody hurt!