Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

Something been on my mind a bit since I hit ‘post’ on yesterday’s blog entry.

In the entry, I used the word ‘cunt’, since the news item was about its use. And I gave short shrift to the idea that some might find it offensive, or to be more accurate, I said that if someone was offended by my use of the word, then this probably wasn’t the blog for them, anyway.

It occurred to me some time later yesterday evening that I’d kind of, maybe, not really, I dunno… broken my own unwritten rule for this blog, and its predecessor. The rule I might have broken? “I try to keep the blog suitable for ‘all ages’.”

I mean, sure, the use of that particular obscenity (several times) probably didn’t disturb the ether that much. After all, I doubt I’ve many children reading it, and even if one stumbled across the blog, I further doubt they’d be interested in what one Tory MP said to another to keep reading long enough to come across the word.

BUT… but…

I do try to keep the blog at a level where all ages can read it.

I wish I could say that’s why the blog rarely delves into ‘adult’ material. It’s not.

Before this blog, I had a Livejournal account. I ran that blog from 2002 until 2011. (Huh. it just hit me tyhat I’ve had this blog longer than I ran my Livejournal blog; that’s weird.)

But during those years – 2002 to 2010 – my son aged from six years’ old through fifteen. And he sometimes read the blog. So very personal stuff was out of bounds as was adult material, ie sex.


Sidebar: When I ran the Livejournal blog, I semi-regularly ran something I called ‘Teach Me Something’, asking readers to teach me something from their own jobs, their own skillset. A teacher might tell the secrets of how to immediately identify the different types of kids (troublemaker, class clown, hard worker, etc) in a classroom. A sommelier giving tips on wine, an IT person explaining the real way to solve common IT problems.

Someone replied with ‘to give the perfect blow job…’ and then gave very detailed instructions.

I took the reply out of public view, because of my then young lad.

A few years later, I was telling the story and the following exchange occurred.

I love my son.


But yes, sex, or at least details about my own preferences and experiences, would likely never have appeared on the blog anyway. As I said the other day, there’s a reason my private life is called, well, my Private Life.

Because when I started the blog, I was married. No, wait, let me give that some context. Apart from being a naturally private person, I had another reason to keep that side of things unspoken on the blog.

I’ve always been in awe of people who are open about their personal lives, their sex lives, and are completely open in it. I’ve never been built like that but even had I been, I didn’t have the right to bring someone else’s sex life into the open.

Because when you’re single, and you talk about sex, then it’s fair for readers to assume, – to conclude, rather – that you’re only speaking for yourself. If you state that you’re into this kink or that you like that position, all you’re revealing is that you like it. Yes, it’s fair for your readers to also conclude that your partner for that evening’s entertainment also enjoyed it. But you’re not identifying them, nor taking away their agency.

But if you’re married – or at least if you’re married and you don’t have an open marriage – it’s fair for any reader to conclude that your spouse is into at least some of what you’re into. (To take a fairly obvious example; if you identified your favourite sexual position, it’s fair to assume that your regular partner — your spouse if you’re married, and not playing away — at the very least didn’t dislike it.)

So that’s two reasons my last blog was free from ‘adult’ revelations about me. 1) My son was a kid, and he read the blog sometimes, and 2) I was married.

Well my son is now 26.

And as for being married? Well, my marriage ended in 2005, though thankfully we remained the closest of friends afterwards, a fact for which I never cease to remain grateful.

But yeah, it ended in 2005.

It’s now rapidly approaching the end of 2021.

And with the exception of a couple of short term flings in the years after the marriage ended, I’ve not had a ‘public’ relationship with anyone since, as in ‘everyone knew who I was seeing, when I was seeing them’. Hell, I haven’t had anything anyone sensible would call a relationship, not a romantic one, since 2005….

…and it’s now rapidly approaching the end of 2021.

When the marriage ended, I knew there would be a period of adjustment, and that there’d be – at some point – a time when I was ready for, when I wanted, a long term, full time, emotionally committed, monogamous, ‘proper’ relationship. I also knew that time was so far in the future that I wouldn’t have been able to see it even had I been using the Hubble Space Telescope.

That was sixteen years ago. And I don’t see that changing.

I mentioned in that Ten Things post

7. I hope I don’t fall in love with anyone and that no one is unluckily enough nor foolish enough to fall in love with me.
All of the above said, and meant… I genuinely, honestly, equally truly, hope love doesn’t come along. In either direction. Because I can imagine fewer things more designed to torture someone than unrequited love. Not unrequited lust, nor unrequited desire, but unrequited LOVE. And I’d rather not be tortured any more than absolutely necessary, thanks.

After I posted that blog entry, I received some private messages from friends. Not through the comments section of the blog, but via text and WhatsApp and via Twitter Direct Messaging. None of them mentioned the mental health stuff I revealed; to be honest, I suspect it either came as a surprise… or there was just nothing they knew how to say.

No, what the messages were about… was the above excerpt. Adjectives and phrases such as ‘sad’ and ‘lonely’ and ‘very sad’ and ‘seems very wrong’ have been used but no – so far – disagreement nor attempts to persuade me otherwise.

For that at least, I’m grateful.

 

Well, that turned out to be a lot more personal than I expected.

I guess the final ruling is: this blog is all ages… except when it’s not.

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 slowly approaching.


I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

57 plus 48: Yeah, sorry…

Posted: 4 October 2021 in 57 plus, blogging
Tags: , ,

This isn’t looking good for the decision on whether to do the countdown to 2022, is it?

To be honest, though, I’d already decided that if I do do the countdown to 2022, it’ll probably be a 50 or 60 day countdown, not a 75 day one as in previous years. I think I need a break from the daily blogging. I’ll complete 57 plus… there’s only a week or so left, and current plans are actually to finish on 57 plus… 59… do the full 57 days, then one more piece of new fiction on the Thursday, and a final day next Friday before I take a break for a couple of weeks.

So, yeah sorry, today ran away with me… so a genuine, though quick, apology from me for that.

But if you want a proper apology, well here’s one of my favourite people in the world of comedy, Rachel Parris, explaining how to do a public apology…

See you tomorrow with the usual Tuesday ‘something else.’

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Today is the 100th entry since I started these runs of ‘57 minus….‘ and ‘57 plus….‘ blog entries.

Well, ok, not quite.

A moment’s mental addition – 57 posts in ‘57 minus….plus 43 posts of ‘57 plus….‘ adds up to 100, fair enough. But that ignores the 57 plus/minus post I stuck up on the actual day of my birthday.

And since yesterday was a ‘fast fiction from the vaults’ day, I figure today’s as good a time as any to take stock again, and ask four questions

  • How’s it gone for me?
  • How’s it gone for you?
  • What have I learned from these runs that I didn’t expect, having done more than a few of these countdowns?
  • What’s next?

Especially since it occurred to me while setting up this post that we’re now only a couple of weeks from the end of this run of ’57 plus…’ blog posts. And I need to start thinking about that last question properly, rather than just shoving it off into the far distance, as I have done for the past couple of weeks.

OK, so let’s get on with it.
 
 
How’s it gone for me?
Well, I’m glad I asked. I mean, I’d say I’m glad you asked except that you haven’t, which we’ll deal with in the next section. 

I’ve found this run – the ’57 plus…’ run – a bit harder than the last run. Don’t think that’ll come as the hugest surprise to any of the six of you who are reading this.

I’m not entirely sure why, but yeah, this one;s been a tad tougher to do every day.

Let’s be fair, both to the blog and to me; There are, being sensible, three days a week where it’s… easy for me. Tuesdays long ago became the ‘fiction from the vaults’ day. And that’s just a matter of me reviewing some previous fiction, picking two I like, and slapping them into what is – for the most part – a pre-formatted post.

The Saturday Smiles are again, pretty much pre-formatted and it’s just finding three funny videos, one that I hope will genuinely make you smile (from a ‘awwww’ reaction or a ‘that’s very sweet’ reaction) and one song from Mitch that I particularly like.

Thursdays, the new fiction, isn’t… that hard for me either. Keep an eye out for a picture that sparks a story idea, and see whether that idea will turn into a story.

Which leaves Friday – the `Ten Things’ day, and only Sunday, Monday and Wednesday in which I need to come up with something discursive.

The problem has been, this time around, finding something I actually care about enough to write 1,000 words or more on. And that’s been the hard bit this time around.

Because what I’ve wanted to write about… I really couldn’t, either because it’s too personal and would talk publicly about stuff I’ve really not wanted to publicly talk about… or because it’s so jaundiced and cynical that the words would bore you. And I kind of figure I owe you more than that.

The other reason of course is that after the best part of a dozen of these countdowns since 2014, I’ve already said a lot on the subjects I’d want to talk about.

Yes, ok, the political situation is very different now than it was, say, in 2015. But there’s not a lot I can say that doesn’t rely on me making half the post “I said this, but now it’s that“. Again, not great.

My religion? Not something I actually feel that qualified to talk about that much these days.

Book reviews? Well, yes, I owe you all three differently reviews which I hope to get to.

Personal life? Yeah, not gonna happen. There’s a reason another term for personal life is ‘private life’.

So, yeah, I’ve two weeks left, and got that kind of planned out, but beyond that… well stay tuned.
 
 
How’s it been for you?
I have no idea. Genuinely. Not a clue.

As I said when I kicked off this latest run, I know that the days of people commenting on blogs – at least general blogs, not focusing on one issue – are in the long ago. In fact, I’m reminded as so often of L P Davies’ line that ‘the past is a foreign country, they do things differently…’

And while various readers are kind enough – thank you! – to ‘like’ the posts, and one or two of you link to the individual posts on social media… for the most part, I have no idea who you are, or what you think of the blog, or of individual posts.

(And the idea I had the other week of asking you didn’t exactly provoke dozens of replies. I’m very grateful for the couple of replies I did receive, but yeah, well…

As in that post, however, if you do want to say hello or express a thought or seven, you can comment in reply to this entry… or via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk or even DM me @budgie on Twitter.)

So I have no idea whether the fiction from the vaults entertains you, or bores you. I’ve not the slightest clue whether the new fiction on a Thursday fascinates you or irritates you. I have no real sense of whether you eagerly await the latest Ten Things, or just ignore them when they pop up.

And, possibly most crucial, I don’t know which of you are getting pissed off by this or that or maybe the other… and why.

I long ago ceased to trust the stats offered by WordPress within the site. So I’ve not even an accurate record of how many people are reading this thing; both the blog itself and/or individual entries.

If this continues, I need to figure out how to fix all of the above.
 
 
What have I learned from these runs that I didn’t expect, having done more than a few of these countdowns?
Quite a few things, but here are three. All of them fairly trivial, but they… irk when I think of them. which suggests to me that I might need to shake things up if this continues.

(i) If I haven’t started writing ‘today’s blog entry’ by 3pm, it becomes a chore. Odd, I know, but true. I need to start writing them earlier in the day.

(ii) After umpteen different methods of how to promote on Twitter, this one seems to work for me. I have no idea if it’s actually ‘working’, but it feels right. Tweet it once when posted, retweet at around half-11 to midnight; Schedule a ‘For The US crowd…’ tweet at 8:30pm Pacific Time, 11:30pm Eastern. And one ‘”ICYMI, yesterday on the blog…’ at 10:30am the following morning. And no-one’s objected to the multiple posts. But do I need to change that as well? I dunno.

Also, though, I’ve definitely noticed a drop off in reactions by not promoting it outside Twitter, other than on Tumblr. Again, if I want to get any traction, I need to think of something else to do.

(iii) Remember to use pictures (usually from my own camera roll or from Unsplash) in the entries themselves to break up the text. Even I wince at some of the long streams of text without anything to break the monotony.
 
 
What’s next?
Well, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been reading for a while that there are two options: (i) take a break which is intended to last only a month or so, but ends up being a year or more, or (ii) take a couple of days break, or perhaps a couple of weeks, and run a countdown until the end of 2021 and the start of 2022. And then decide what to do.

Right now, I genuinely have no idea which of those two is going to happen. Of course, usually when I say that, a week or so later I’m telling you all when the next countdown is going to start.

But this time, I honestly don’t know. Partly because I may – if certain other ‘irons in the fire’ come to fruition, to mis my metaphors – have other calls on my time. Partly because I’m not entirely sure I want to continue writing these, and I’m equally unsure you want to carry on reading them.

Basically, I guess the single thought that occurs to me is… I have some thinking to do.

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

57 minus 01: Well.

Posted: 16 August 2021 in 57 minus, blogging
Tags: , , ,

When I came to the final 55 minus post in 2019, I wrote the following:

David Allen Green, who tweets as @davidallengreen, will occasionally quote-tweet some bit of news and merely append the single word: “Well.”

It can mean anything from a gentle “I told you so” to “I wrote about this, you know” to a “yer never gonna believe this, folks, but…”

But often, it’s just a “hey folks, this is interesting.”

And that’s how I intended the title of this post until I started writing it and realised it additionally meant a few other things.

For a start, I’m ‘well’. Which I wasn’t completely sure I would be on this day when I re-started the blog eight weeks ago.

And, two years later, I can say much the same.

With the odd exception, I hadn’t blogged for 18 months. Yes, there’d been the annual A Life In Pictures post, and the one about my late brother on the twenty-third anniversary of his death, and a couple of other posts, here and there, but I took most of 2020 off, as well as the first six months of 2021.

And instead of planning a simple, slow re-introduction to blogging, I committed to not only a daily blog for fifty-seven days, but to write one new piece of fiction a week as part of it. (For that, you can thank an old friend who I promised I’d write new fiction, and put it out there. Kind of pleased me just how much I enjoyed keeping that promise.)

I can’t honestly say I expected to burn out during the run – I’ve done enough of these countdowns now to have safety nets if I need a day off. Sometimes, it’s because ‘life’, that lack of respecter of deadlines, gets in the way. On other occasions, it’s because I had a shitty night’s sleep and am like a zombie the following day.

And other times… well, other times I just need a day off, and I’ll take one so this thing doesn’t run the risk of feeling like a chore.

So, I’ll stick up an extra two ‘fictions from the blog’, or I’ll pull out a fairly timeless (by which I mean it’s not topical) post I’ve written in reserve, or even post, what we called on Livejournal, a meme; a Q&A or something.

Two things surprised me this run, though.

First I didn’t expect to enjoy the writing as much I did. The actual, physical and mental, wrangling of words to make them do what I wanted them to do.

I have enjoyed that. I didn’t expect to. I mean, I didn’t expect to dislike it. But I genuinely didn’t expect to actively enjoy it.

Secondly, it surprised me how quickly I got back into the daily habit. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

Lessons learned?

Only three, I think, , one of which was something that did what it was supposed to, the remaining two I kind of knew in advance but it was comfortable to have them confirmed.

(1) Having and using goingcheep was a objectively good idea; something that’s very much not this blog, a daily brain dump, a couple of hundred words, on tumblr just to loosen up the fingers and get me in the mood to write. Never have I appreciated it more than I have this time around.

(2) the days of people frequently responding to the blog are long gone. Popular bloggers – usually with a specific bent, like DAG’s legal blog – might get a discussion going in the comments section, but personal blogs, blogs that wander all over the place? Not so much.

I did consider cross-posting to Medium but in the end decided against it this time. Maybe if I was actively aiming for a large readership, but I’m doing this as much this time around for my own amusnment and enjoyment as I am for others’. But it’s still something to consider moving forward.

(3) Which brings me to the readership numbers. Other than when I knew a post was getting some traction on Twitter, I didn’t even check the blog stats. I really can’t recommend this enough as a practice. And it wasn’t as if the blog was being promoted; I didn’t promote the blog on Facebook, for the fairly obvious reason that I’m not on Facebook. (Maybe that’s a post for another day.) I do link the posts on Tumblr but I get almost no click-throughs from it. But I still do it, because why the hell not?

And now I’m writing that out, I’m wondering whether I should at some point find some way of promoting the blog.

Hmm… something else to consider, I guess.

So, budgie, after fifty-six days, how did it go?

For me? Great. I got to stick – more or less – to the plan I’d had when I started: some old fiction, some new fiction, the Saturday Smiles, only one post on politics, (more will come in the ’57 plus’) and some reflections on the world during/after covid.

Some stuff didn’t work out, of course.

I had intended to put up some very personal posts. Never happened. I mean, there were a couple of personal ones, but not the three I’d written that were deliberately very personal, about me, about the inside of my head, and about personal history.

To be honest, I’m still not sure whether they’ll appear in ’57 plus’ but of those three I’ve written and not posted, I’d lay good money that one will appear, one might appear at some point…

…and one won’t, at least not without heavy rewriting; there’s still stuff in it that I’m not overly comfortable putting out into the public sphere.

Which leads me to the following.

This is the final post in the run of blog entries leading up to my fifty-seventh birthday, which if you’ve been paying attention and have even the slightest understanding of, y’know, numbers… is tomorrow: Tuesday 17th August.

I’ll probably post something tomorrow, if only because I no longer ‘have’ to do so, I could take the day off and not one of the six of you who are reading would blame me in the least.

So, yeah, there’ll be something. But, honestly, right now? I’m not sure what. I’ve a couple of creepier fast fictions about birthdays, one from 2009 and another from 2010, so maybe I’ll stick them up. I honestly don’t know right now. I’ll decide tomorrow.

And then…? And then…?

Well, then I start the new run of fifty-seven posts, and these are intended to be a bit denser. Some more stuff about politics, some more essay-type posts.

Oh, I’ll continue the fictions both old and new, and the Saturday Smiles, and the Ten Things posts. But some deeper stuff. Maybe some stuff on comedy, both the craft and the performance; there’s been precious little in this run other than the Saturday Smiles, and we could all do with just a few minutes light relief.

And I did enjoy doing those Saturday Smiles, especially finding clips of which readers were probably unaware and introducing them to people who didn’t previously know their work.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed reading the run.
 


OK, I think that’s about it.

Thanks for reading. Not only today’s but any of the posts you’ve read. Something else is coming. But meanwhile…

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

Well.

 

See you tomorrow, with… that something else. 

 


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is the final entry in a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

Housekeeping note: I feel like I need to apologise upfront for this one. I’ve found it a tad harder than I expected to keep on topic as I’ve restarted blogging. I’ll try to do better in future. Sorry.

 

Writings about Journalism sometimes say that reporters (and yes, I know that reporters and journalists are different jobs, but give me that one, ok? I didn’t didn’t want to write journalism &journalists in the same sentence and now I’ve done it and I hate myself and I hate all of you for making me write this explanation.)

Where was I?

Oh yes, writings about journalism sometimes say that… sigh… journalists… ask The Five Questions when investigating and writing a story: Who, Where, What, When, Why? There’s a reason, however, this post is titled differently.

This one will be about Who and How.

Why?

OK, who and how and why.

It’s always dangerous to make a prediction. Whether it’s about a general election or even about how long a post on this thing will be, it’s a mug’s game. That doesn’t stop me making guesses, of course, nor even writing posts about predictions… and I’ve even written after an election about some of what I got wrong in those predictions. Not everything of course; I didn’t want it to be a thirty-seven part opus.

So, yes, predicting stuff is always leaving yourself I open to make a fool of yourself, so it’s not hugely encouraged.

James Burke, that wonderful explainer of connections in the past, has said on several occasions that he’s often asked why he, given his appreciation of how thinks connect together, doesn’t make predictions about the future. He usually gives two answers. First, his belief that while some discoveries were always likely to happen – if this person hadn’t discovered This Thing, someone else probably would have, sooner or later – many discoveries or scientific theories very much aren’t.

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, for example. Many were working on similar things, and it’s likely that sooner or later, someone would have come up with it. His General Theory, however, with its suggested consequences and relevant proposals? It’s a toss up whether it would ever had been discovered. Some discoveries and inventions are serendipitous, and rarely is anything inevitable.

Burke’s second reason is more blunt, and likely more honest: he likes to be right, and he doesn’t like to be wrong. He’s rarely extrapolated and predicted. I mean, they’re always fascinating when he does predict, but the predictions themselves have to be taken with every caveat known to mind and a few that you have to invent especially for the purpose.

So, again, predicting is a mug’s game, a fool’s endeavour, an idiot’s quest.

Except in one circumstance. There’s one situation where a prediction is overtly expected, actively anticipated… in fact, it’s positively encouraged.

Whodunnits.

Murder mysteries. Private eye tales, detective stories.

You watch, or read, a murder mystery. And, in the absence of a Columbo-type story format¹, the author, the tv director, wants you to play along, to try to guess who committed the murder, who kidnapped the victim.

Note to self: do a ‘Ten Columbo episodes Budgie likes’ at some point during this run.)

Oh, and whether the baddie will be found guilty or not if your’e watching a drama about a criminal trial. I’ll add that because I’ve kind of gotten hooked on re-runs of Law & Order² during the last year’s various lockdowns.

Note to self: also do a couple of ‘Ten Law & Order episodes & working partnerships Budgie likes’ at some point during this run.)

Unlike lots of genres, I can’t remember when I started liking whodunnits, or what the first whodunnit was that I enjoyed, nor even what hooked me on that type of mystery. Whereas I know when I got into sf, and which western I enjoyed as a kid, and even why I enjoyed Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo but never really took to Flipper, I don’t have clue when it comes to whodunnits and crime.

But whodunnits have always been around in my life. I recall enjoying watching them with my older brother, and usually getting the answer wrong. I’d miss clues and never correctly guess who the villain was. But that was ok, I discovered. There was no harm, no foul in getting the answer wrong. In later years, I started to appreciate that it was kind of a compliment to the writer, not being able to guess the murderer. It meant they’d done their job as far as I was concerned. They set up red herrings and other possible baddies and I wasn’t smart enough to detect who the real one was.

But I loved whodunnits. I loved discovering these detectives, usually people I’d want to solve murders but also people in whose company I’d never want to spend time. I mean, how the hell could you remain friends with Nero Wolfe? Mike Hammer would dislike me intensely, I always suspected. And Lord Peter Wimsey wouldn’t think that much of me either. I wasn’t even sure I’d like Watson as a person, let alone Holmes. But was pretty sure neither of them would be eager to spend time in my company.

But I remember discovering Poirot, and Perry Mason, and Phillip Marlowe, and Lew Archer. And I devoured their tales. But at no point do I recall them being the first of the genre I’d encountered.

And on tv, a slew of private eye shows, and police detective dramas and defence lawyer shows where they’d always show (or attempt to) that their client was innocent.

Yeah, that always slightly bugged me. I realised early on that ‘not guilty’ didn’t mean ‘innocent’. And I occasionally wonder how much of an influence legal dramas had upon vast swathes of the viewing public, teaching them – incorrectly – that ‘not guilty’ means ‘they didn’t do it’ instead of the more accurate ‘the prosecution couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they did’. A US lawyer friend occasionally rails against the media reporting that someone ‘got away with it on a technicality’. He maintains there’s no such thing. If someone, under the law as it stands, can’t be, or isn’t, found guilty, then he didn’t do the crime.

(Sidebar: the lawyer David Allen Green once took time out of his valuable day to talk me through, step-by-step, how ‘doing something’ and ‘bring criminally liable for that thing’ are two very different things. I was, and remain, very grateful to him.)

But yeah, most often, lawyers on tv prove their client didn’t do the crime; that they were framed, or unlucky, in the wrong place at the wrong time, or being prosecuted because ‘they got away with it earlier’.

Sorry, again this has gotten away from me again.

(Wow, it is taking me some time to get back into blogging again, and in doing so, sticking to the bloody subject, isn’t it?)

As I got older, I found myself gravitating to shows that subverted the format; Petrocelli did it by always showing that someone else other than his client could have done the crime. The show never went with the “my client didn’t do it” but instead “with the evidence presented, someone else could have… so reasonable doubt, yeah?” There’s a John Larroquette show, McBride, that did something similar.

My preference for less obvious mysteries deepened, and my love of Columbo increased.

It was almost inevitable I guess that I’d end up focussing my actual excitement for ‘impossible’ crimes, for the locked room mysteries and for the ‘how did they do it?’

Who did it? How did they do it? How were they found out? And – in more than one medical mystery – what did it?

And we’ll return to all of that after the weekend. Along with a weird whodunnit panel show that never quite worked.

See you tomorrow, with… something else. And if you’ve been following this blog for a while, a reminder that tomorrow is Saturday, so you’ll know what that ‘something’ else is.

 

 

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

Interregnum: Thinking allowed

Posted: 17 October 2019 in 2020 minus, blogging
Tags: ,

This entire post is housekeeping, so if you want to skip it, go right ahead.

It’s mainly just me thinking aloud here today, while I try to justify to myself why another countdown blog would be a smart idea.

Plans for 55 minus
When I started the 55 minus… countdown, I was pretty open about why I was doing it, and what I wanted from it. After over two years away from blogging, I wanted to see if I could once again post a daily blog, write some interesting stuff, hopefully amuse some people, and just get back to writing something every day for people to read.

And I think, in the main, I achieved it.

What I learned from 55 minus
Well, for a start, I learned – re-learned, maybe? – that the countdown format works for me. It gives me a structure to the blog that I wouldn’t otherwise have, and it helps having a self-imposed deadline. I also learned that not having a full blown plan in advance of the countdown starting costs me; maybe not i the short term but definitely in the medium and long term.

The last time I did a countdown blog, I was pretty much burned out from blogging, so took a break. And the break lasted over two years. And that was with a plan.

This plan, as it happens:

Some of the abbreviations are immediately obvious, some of them not quite so obvious but understandable with a key.

“E/W” was code for me sticking up some stories I’d written for Elephant Words, a fiction site I participated in for a couple of years way back. “S/Smile”, obviously, the Saturday Smile.“D’Club” refers to Distraction Club. “HASC” was the Home Affairs Select Committee, which was – at the time – investigating antisemitism in British politics. “Election Day” was the 2016 Presidential Election.

This time I set out to do it without a plan as such. Oh, I had some vague ideas, and knew I’d put some fiction up. And I’d probably restart the Saturday Smiles Oh, and I wanted to write something on antisemitic tropes. And some stuff on London, where I live. Oh, and I was pretty sure that if I went to Edinburgh, I’d probably write some posts on that. But not really much more of a plan than that.

And it cost me. I quickly realised that I needed a structure or I’d end up taking a day off the first time I had a brain fart when nothing sprang to mind that day. And that genuinely panicked me, for a brief time. So a structure evolved.

And so the ‘stories from the vaults’ arrived.

And the one-offs/Ten Things thing arrived.

And I made it through the 55 days of 55 minus.

Planned for 55 plus
There wasn’t a plan for 55 plus. After I finished 55 minus, I thought I’d do what I’d previously down with countdown blogs (birthday, election, years), change the minus to a plus, carry on for ten days or so, then take a break.

But I didn’t. I carried on blogging.

What I learned from 55 plus
That it’s ok to take a day off now and then. And that if you’ve got a structure, unplanned or not, that works for you, carry on with it.

And that I like symmetry. I ended up running the 55 plus until I hit 55, well, 56 if you’re being pedantic. And it wasn’t until I came towards the end of it that I began to wonder, what next?

Ok, so what now?
Well, rereading the above, I’m hoenstly not sure if I’m smart or daft, if I’m being sensible or silly. But I’m going to try another countdown to the New Year of 2020, but this time with a plan, similar to the earlier one I did three years ago.

In some ways, it’ll be earlier. I have some plans already its’ mty late brother’s birthday during the run so I’ll write something about him. It’s my son’s birthday during the run, so I get to embarrass him. Which is always fun.

And there’s Christmas Day, of course.

The fictions from the vaults will continue, with some stories I recently discovered, which even I had completely forgotten about, and some of them have art attached.

The Saturday Smiles will continue but there might be a small change in the format there.

I’ll try and put up some new fiction. And I’ll write some more about ‘war stories’ from my past career, and some thoughts on comedy and writing and accountancy and… stuff.

There’ll be some personal stuff and some stuff on politics. And even some stuff on genres of fiction.

The Top Tens will be back, because I enjoyed them.

And, towards the end, a mea culpa about predictions I’ve made that have proved that I really shouldn’t make predictions.

And I may start off with a re-introduction, but since I did one only four months ago, I’ll try and make it a little different. Maybe.

So, join me tomorrow, for 2020 minus 75, and let’s see what happens, eh?

(Oh, just for the record, yes, there’ll be an update to A Life In Pictures including some new ones I’ve found from way back, but it won’t form part of the 2020 minus run. It’ll be a separate entry entirely.)
 
 
See you tomorrow…

David Allen Green, who tweets as @davidallengreen, will occasionally quote-tweet some bit of news and merely append the single word: “Well.”

It can mean anything from a gentle “I told you so” to “I wrote about this, you know” to a “yer never gonna believe this, folks, but…”

But often, it’s just a “hey folks, this is interesting.”

And that’s how I intended the title of this post until I started writing it and realised it additionally meant a few other things.

For a start, I’m ‘well’. Which I wasn’t completely sure I would be on this day when I re-started the blog eight weeks ago.

With the exception of the annual A Life In Pictures post, and one about my late brother on the anniversary of his death, I’d last blogged in January 2017… two and a half years ago, and a fair bit has changed since then; for me, for politics, for everyone and everything.

And here I was, not planning on a gentle re-introduction to blogging; no, I chose to commit to a daily blog for fifty-five days.

Which doesn’t sound an awful lot… until you have to do it. I fully expected that I’d get about ⅔ of the way through, and chuck it in¹, decide it’s not worth it², decide the readership wasn’t responding in any way at all³, decide that hardly anyone was reading it⁴…

To which I can now respond, at the end of the run:

¹ I didn’t

² It really was worth it. Not for all of the posts, I’ll admit, but for many, for most, of them, yeah. I enjoyed writing them and I believe some people enjoyed reading them.

³ If I hadn’t known in advance that the ‘responding to blogs’ thing had for many gone out of fashion – comments often come in reply to the promo tweet, not the blog itself – I’d have been worried. But with the exception of very popular bloggers, the days of getting a couple of dozen replies on the blog to an interesting entry are long gone. At least for anyone not on Medium. (I only realised, well over half way through, that I should have grabbed a Medium account and cross-posted to that… I might do something with that idea at some point; get a Medium account, and cross post the ‘important’ posts.)

⁴ Other than when I knew a post was getting some traction on Twitter, I didn’t even check the blog stats. And I didn’t promote the blog on Facebook, for the simple reason that I’m not on Facebook. Amusingly, I got almost no click throughs from Tumblr. Posting the links to that was, probably, a waste of time.

So, how did it go?

For me? Great. I got to stick – near or less – to the plan I’d had when I started: some old fiction, some Saturday Smiles, some commentary on London, some on British politics, some on American politics, some on antisemitism.

Some stuff didn’t work out, of course. I intended to put up more brand new fiction. That only happened the one time, though I maintain that most of the stories I put up, readers would probably not have seen before, or at least not remembered seeing.

It does bug me a little that I never got around to publishing Part The Fourth in the series within the run dealing with antisemitic imagery. It’ll come at some point, but I don’t know when right now.

Which leads me to another thing and…
 


 

Actually, before I write that bit, I should have said this upfront. Apologies if this entry is a little more disjointed than usual, if it flows from one paragraph to the next a bit less than is my habit.

It’s just after 8am as I’m writing this, and I’m currently sitting outside a coffee shop in Edinburgh, on Princes Street.

I didn’t sleep as much as I’d hoped to on the overnight journey, so I’m a little bit fried. And I’ve a full day planned in Edinburgh: seeing a couple of shows and then having a wander, feeling the city again, remembering how I get from A to B.

So, again, sorry if this rambles a bit. I’ll edit it a bit for clarity and typos, etc., before I hit post.
 


 

Anyway, back to what I was saying. Yeah, this is the final post in the run of blog entries leading up to my fifty-fifth birthday, which if you’ve been paying attention and have even the slightest understanding of, y’know, numbers… is tomorrow: Saturday 17th August.

I’ve genuinely no idea right now whether I’ll post anything tomorrow. There’s a part of me that says ‘sod it; give yourself a day off’ and another part that says ‘Oh, come on, even if it’s just some quotes you like about birthdays, post something‘.

And then…?

I would take a few days off after that; I’m in Edinburgh for the fringe, after all, and I want to enjoy myself without having to post something every day.

The problem with that is… that’s that’s exactly what I said after the 75 day countdown I did at the end of 2016, leading up to New Year’s 2017: ‘take a few days off, budgie enjoy the break, then come back refreshed’.

And I did take a break. Which lasted two and a half years.

Again, I haven’t decided what I’ll do yet. My gut says I’ll continue to post, but less dense posts than in this fifty-five day run of entries. The occasional deep dive into something, sure; the irregular observations on the shitshow known as ‘British politics’ or “American politics’.

(I remain convinced, by the way, that UK politics and US politics got drunk on 31st December 2015, and they bet which of them could fuck up more over the next five years. Every few months, one of them gets an opportunity to up the stakes. And takes it.)

But I doubt I’ll blog every day. We’ll see. (Might do the first ten days as ’55 plus’. Again, we’ll see.)

But I’ve enjoyed writing again, I’ve enjoyed making the words do what I want, and saying what I wanted to say.

There were some surprises during the run, I’ll admit. I’ve never been one for recommending things to other people, or at least not a set of things. Recommending a book or a tv show, yes. But “ten podcasts I like” or “ten old movies I can happily rewatch”? No. However, I really enjoyed doing the half a dozen entries in which I did precisely that. And from messages I received, the pocket recommendations for each movie, podcast, individual tv episodes, some people enjoyed them as well.

(Small mea culpa; didn’t occur to me that if I was doing 10 recommendations, then with adding in the intro, you’re talking 2,500 to 3,000 words per post. Silly me.)

I didn’t exactly enjoy doing the ‘antisemitic imagery’ posts, but I thought them necessary; I’d been planning on doing something along those lines for a couple of years. And I’m pleased they’re done, easy to read I’m told, and achieved their aims.

One of the aims, of course, was to provide a reference source, for me, and for others, in the same way a post I wrote in 2014 – 50 minus 3: Israel, Gaza and anti-Semitism in the UK – has done for many.

I did enjoy digging out and showing the musical comedians in the Saturday Smiles, introducing them to people who didn’t previously know their work.

And I thoroughly enjoyed resurrecting some fiction from the vaults… and presenting you all with a brand new story. I’ve three other brand new stories that I didn’t post during the run… maybe they’ll appear here in the future.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed reading the run.
 


 
As I mentioned earlier, I’m now in Edinburgh, for the Edinburgh Fringe. Until 2011, I’d never been to the Fringe, I’d never been to Scotland, in fact. But I’d had a rough year, a very rough one, and close friends arranged for me to spend three days up in Edinburgh in August. Both to catch up with an old friend who’d rented a house up here for the month and invited me to stay, and to introduce me to The Fringe.

Despite the fantastic comedy and entertainment, going by the usual ‘me being me’, I shouldn’t enjoy Fringe. Genuinely. It’s made up of lots of things I don’t like: huge crowds everywhere, enforced jollity, and everywhere’s uphill. No, seriously, everywhere. You walk uphill to a gig, come out and think ‘well, at lest it’s downhill back, yet somehow this Escher lithograph of a city makes you walk uphill again.

(The Escher line is Mitch Benn’s; it’s wholly accurate.)

But everywhere being uphill causes me an issue with my fucked up foot.

So I shouldn’t have enjoyed it.

But I did.

I loved it. And I returned to Edinburgh to celebrate my 50th birthday in 2014. And made it back in 2015, not for my birthday though. And in 2016. And… and… and you get the picture.

This is my seventh visit in nine years, and my sixth consecutive visit. I love the Fringe and I love coming to Edinburgh. I see friends I haven’t seen in a year, I see great comedy, and I spend an awful lot of it laughing. Fringe is very, very good for me.

And this year, for the first time since 2014, I’m here for my birthday. No idea what I’m going to do for my birthday; I’m not doing the drinkup I did for my 50th, but I’ll see what occurs.

I have three Edinburgh Fringe traditions – hey, it’s my seventh visit; I get to have traditions:

First tradition: The first show I see is Mitch Benn’s. And the last show I see is Mitch’s show, again. Not only because he’s one of my closest friends, and I love his work, but it’s they’re perfect bookends to my visit to this fair city. I could make a list of what I owe to this man, how much I respect and like him, and how grateful I am that he’s my friend and occasional collaborator.… and it’d take until Sunday to finish.

Second tradition: There’s a coffee shop I discovered on my first visit in 2011. Couldn’t find it in 2014, but rediscovered it in 2015. And I’ll visit them while I’m up. They’re very nice people in there, they make great coffee and it’s just… nice, you know? Nice is an underrated attribute and quality. We should prize it when we find it.

Third tradition: Twice during my stay, I see comedians I’ve never seen before. I’ll find myself with a few hours to spare, I’ll check on the app what’s on… and I’ll pick one almost at random. So far, I’d say I’ve been lucky enough on average to have a two-in- three hit rate, two of the three are good, one of the three… really isn’t.

Actually, there’s a fourth tradition I’ve just realised. At some point, I’ll find myself in Bristo Square just after midnight, really, really, really wanting some chips.

OK, I think that’s about it.

Thanks for reading. Not only today’s but any of the posts you’ve read.

Fifty-five days. Fifty-five posts.

Well.
 
 
This post is the final post of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

A thing did the rounds on Twitter earlier this month asking about the first social media platforms people used. I was, I’ll admit, kind of surprised when people started including their preferred early blogging platforms because I’ve never really considered blogging as social media.

I mean, I’m probably wrong. I’m certainly wrong if the responses on Twitter are anything to go by. And it certainly qualifies on some counts; I’ve just always thought what distinguished it from what I thought of as social media far outweighed its similarities. For a start, I guess, I’ve always considered social media – outside the narrow sphere of companies and global celebrities who solely use it to proton themselves and their brands – as… disposable, quick, short, small nuggets of information, slices of life, whether it be via the media of photo, video, an image, a short piece of text. And usually, if not always, has the potential, the strong potential, for interaction between content creator and those reading or viewing it.

I’ve certainly never considered it the same beast as a platform containing blog entries of a couple of thousand words, So, no, blogging has never been – for me – social media.

But apparently not, at least not for most people.

But then, things… change. Before YouTube, who would have considered video an almost every present – and easy to promote – part of social media?

In 2008, a few weeks before that year’s’ United States’ Presidential election, my then boss went to an event put on by The Foreign Press Association. My boss – a rangy Pennsylvanian with a brain roughly the size of one of the larger planets – enjoyed my fascination with US politics, and explaining the bits I didn’t fully ‘get’.

One thing I remember learning at the event: that YouTube hadn’t existed at the time of the previous Presidential election; it was created in 2005. And in three years, it had become ubiquitous enough that politcial campaigns were using it, and using it well sometimes, as rebuttal to accusations, that supporters not officially part of the campaigns, were using it as well: to produce quick, dirty and and occasionally clever attack ads.

But yeah, it was a) created in 2005, and b) fourteen years ago.

The graphic below only goes as far as 2009, so it misses out instagram, Pinterest, Quora, Snapchat, Twitch, Tinder, Vine (ah, alas poor Vine), Periscope… but it suffices for this entry.

I first got online in 1995, three months before my lad was born. My first modem was a present from my wife (we’d been married about a year by then) and I’d been studying for my accountancy qualifications throughout our engagement and marriage.

As a gift for qualifying as an accountant, she bought me a modem. Sounds harmless if you say that fast enough, doesn’t it?

Well, she says that was the reason. There’s every possibility that she married me and thereafter only saw the back of my head… as the front of it was lowered, studying, every night.

And then, after I qualified, and she saw my face… she figured she’d better find something to ensure she only saw the back of my head again… hence, the modem, the internet, and CompuServe. It’s possible, be honest. OK, more than possible.

But I didn’t start blogging until 2002. Back then, you needed an invite to join LiveJournal, and a friend supplied one; I’ve never been quite sure since whether that means he gets the credit or the blame.

Either way, I started blogging, on LiveJournal. I took a quick look at the other platforms, but I liked LiveJournal as it then was. It was incredibly easy to use, equally as easy to customise your blog, and there was a…. community… that I’d never found on other blogging platforms I’d looked at.

And it was friendly. That was what I most liked about it. Sure there were idiots and trolls and nasty people on occasion, but the worst they could do was leave nasty comments… and one quick ‘delete and block the sender’ and you”d never hear from them again. And the spam was rare.

I like WordPress, I do. For many of the same reasons as. I liked Livejournal: easy to use, easy to customise, and there are several decent ‘clients’.

But I sorely miss the community element of LiveJournal. I miss the fun of element of a community of bloggers, of actually enjoying us all being on teh same blogging platform.

I miss – though as I said the other day, it’s probably objectively a good thing – the days of blogs being repositories of everything from long form pieces to do thoughts and silliness. That last has now been taken over by Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram.

And I miss the lack of spam. Oh hell do I miss that. (It’s rare, when I check the comments on here, that there aren’t a dozen or more messages awaiting approval, all from spammers)

No real point today. No big lesson. Just something that occurred to me that I wanted to write about.

I miss doing that more often as well.
 

 

It’s Tuesday tomorrow. If you’ve been following the blog, you know what’s moving tomorrow. if not, then all I’ll say is the usual… something else tomorrow.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.