Posts Tagged ‘blog’

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.

Well, come on, be honest… this wasn’t exactly a surprise even before I said I was likely going to be doing it.

The moment I got more than half-way through ‘57 minus…‘, it was likely I’d go on to do a ’57 plus…’ And the moment I got more than half-way through ‘57 plus…‘, let’s face it, it was more than likely I’d go on to do a ‘2022 minus…’

So here we are, or at least here I am, doing a ‘2022 minus…’ And if you’re out there reading this, hello! Feel free to say hello down below. If you’re new to the blog, welcome. If you’re an old hand, welcome back.

This will be the [oh, I don’t know] umpteenth (?) countdown blog run I’ve done and I’ve long since accepted that it’s the only way for me to post on a daily basis.

Previous attempts over the past decade or so I’ve had this blog that progress without the countdown tend to… peter out after a week and a half; I have no idea how people writing general allpurpose blogs, i.e those without a a specific focus, do it. I really don’t.

It was easier back in the days of Livejournal. Mainly, I’ve come to realise, because of the absence of Twitter.

My previous blog is still ‘live’, in theory at least. It’s effectively archived, although every so often someone will stumble across it and reply to a post from 2006 or something. And I’m not even referring to bots or spam comments.

You may think I’m kidding… I’m not. A year ago, someone replied to a post from 2004.

Yeah. That was… surprising.

But for the most part, the previous blog exists for me to look something up or to find something I know I’ve written about previously. And of course for the ‘in case of emergency, post a Q&A’ entry, where I can grab a set of questions and answer them in 2021, as opposed to the answers I gave in, say, 2006.

Thing is, looking at that blog, looking at the entries now, in 2021, it strikes me that a good 25% of those posts wouldn’t these days appear on my blog, but would appear as single tweets or even as a thread.

And now, in 2021, it’d just seem flat weird to post on this blog an entry of only 50 words. Or to post multiple short blog entries in a single day. Both of which I did freely on the Livejournal blog.

But without that freewheeling nature on here, yeah, I need the structure of the countdown.

So, yes, a countdown to 2022, a year that I’m in some ways finding it hard to come to terms with. It honestly doesn’t seem that long ago that we were all arguing about whether the year 2000 actually started the new millennium, or whether it was 2001 that accomplished it.

(It was the latter in case you wondered, but it was quite right to celebrate the former. After all, no one cares when your mileage odometer clicks over to 20,001 miles. Everyone cares when it hits 20,000.)

But because

a) it’s been a couple of weeks since you’ve seen anything from me, and

b) it’s only been a couple of weeks since you’ve seen anything from me, I’m left in a bit of a quandary for this post.

There’s no point in me doing a reintroduction. I did one of those at the start of the ’57 minus…’ run. Neither is there really a point in telling what you I’ve planned for this run. I did one of those recently as well.

You don’t need a anyway, because both you and I know that it’ll likely be the same kind of thing, though with different actual content, hopefully, this time around: new fiction on a Thursday, fiction from the vaults, Saturday Smiles, and the usual slice of life and occasional ponderings, and various items of flotsam and jetsam.

One question you might have is why sixty-one days/posts. It’s a fair question.

I usually do a seventy-five day countdown to the New Year. But after this most recent blog run, as I said, I genuinely needed a short-ish break. And so I took one, for the back half of October.

A fifty day countdown? Well, I could do that, but I was honestly worried that if I took effectively a month off, until mid-November, then maybe that fifty-day countdown would get delayed and turn into a forty-day countdown and then maybe I’d put it off for another short while and then suddenly we’d be nearly December and I’d think it’d not be worth doing it at all.

Hmm.

Sixty days was the obvious compromise: enough of a break to recharge the batteries, but not long enough for me to get comfortable not blogging.

So I did the calculations, and realised that counting sixty days backwards from 31st December brought me to precisely… 2nd November 2021. Which was… awkward.

Because as anyone who’s followed this blog or the previous one for a while will know, 2nd November is an important day for me.

And I didn’t want to kick off the blog again with that post. So, you get something else today, then that post tomorrow along with the return of fiction from the vaults in another post. And since I’m seriously considering doing a set Twelve Days of Fast Fiction again for the first time since 2016, I’m also thinking about including some of those for the Tuesday posts. I’ve got more than 40 I could pick from, after all. Hmm.

I haven’t decided yet on either proposal.

What else today before I sign off?

Well, I’m going to be attending my first comics con in almost a decade in a couple of weeks, which at the moment feels very… weird.

I’ll go more into it before I travel up on the 12th, maybe while I’m travelling up on the 12th, but, at the moment, suffice to say that Dave Gibbins and I wrapped up the hypotheticals panel at 2011’s Bristol Comic Expo, and I only attended a couple more cons after that.

Partly that was because I – as I’ve previously alluded to in brief – cracked up; partly it was because it was a part of my life that felt… over. And whenever I vaguely considered attending a con after that, it just felt, I dunno, not… right. Not the right time.

And then of course, suddenly it was 6 or 7 years since I’d been to a con.

But towards the end of 2019, I felt that strong itch, that itch I hadn’t felt in years. People were talking and writing about going to cons, and for the first time since I quit going, I… missed them. Missed the people, missed the culture, missed the being around people I like, missed… everything about attending a con. Oh, and I missed being around comics people. I missed hearing about comics and talking about comics and… everything that makes comics enjoyable as well as reading them.

And, after a few occasions of this hitting me, I mentioned it. And a couple of people said ‘come to a con, we’d love to see you…’ A couple of people even said I’d been missed, which was nice.

And then… and then, of course, covid hit.

So I wrote off the idea of going to cons-that-weren’t-happening and the idea of attending one got lost in, well, got lost in the craziness and absurdity in which we’ve all lived for a couple of years.

And then they started up again.

And Thought Bubble started up again, a con I’d only attended twice, many years ago now, but which everyone praises as ‘a con done right’.

So I pondered, and thought about it, and I was driving myself mad; a short drive, you’ll appreciate.

So I booked tickets and travel, and accommodation. Not on a whim, but yeah. (Note: I’ve been out of the game for a long time, and while there are cons that I might have asked, cheekily, if there was any way I could be comped in… Thought Bubble is not one of those cons.)

So, yeah, I’m going to a comics con. That’s weird.

 

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else. Well, two somethings else to be precise, only one of which will be part of ‘2022 minus’…

 

 

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.

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.)

Hello, people who are following this blog!

Posted: 15 September 2021 in life, stuff
Tags: ,

Hello there.

Just wanted – outside the ’57 plus’ run of blogs – to drop a note to you, people who are actually following this blog, and people who get notifications when I stick up a new entry.

Jon Stewart said he thought of his show as a conversation with his audioence… and one in which he’d shamelessly monopolised the dialogue.

I kind of feel the same way. I know that the days of people commenting on blogs some time ago went the way of the dinosaurs. However, I’ll admit to being a little curious; curious about you, how you found this place, why you followed me, and – the most head-scratching I guess – why you hung around and still do.

So, please, I ask a favour. Drop me a line and let me know, eh?

You can comment in reply to this entry, or if you’d rather drop me a line via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk or DM me @budgie on Twitter.

I’m just curious about you all, and if you’ve your own blogs you’d like me to take a look at…

Anyway, once again, hello!

And see you tomorrow for the usual stuff…

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.

Well, hello again…

Posted: 30 March 2020 in housekeeping
Tags: , ,

Yes, yes, it’s been three months, more or less, and I’ve taken a much needed – seriously, you have no idea how much it was needed – break from the daily blogging, but I’m, and it’s, back in a couple of days’ time.

There’ve been few times in my life when I could look at current events and say a) ‘the world has changed‘ and/or b) ‘whatever happens next, when it’s over, the world will no longer be the same‘.

The one that jumps to mind, of course, is 9/11. For a period of time, there was Before-9/11 and After 9/11, and no one, not really, would pretend that the before and after were the same thing.

Dan Hodges asked a couple of weeks ago what news stories there’d been where the whole world was talking about One Story. 9/11? Of course. JFK assassination? Quite possibly.

And now we have Coronavirus, Covid 19. Or Covid-19. Or #Covid19. Whichever you prefer.

But whatever you call it, it definitely qualifies as ‘the world has changed‘ and ‘whatever happens next, the world will no longer be the same when it’s over.’

As I write this, it’s a couple of days before the end of March, and it’s not unfair to say that pretty much every sphere of human activity, every function of government, everything that makes us – wherever you are, wherever you’re reading this – a society… has changed.

Or at least the things that haven’t changed? Well, we’re all doing them very differently than how we did them even a month ago.

I mentioned on Twitter that a phrase I think we’re all going to have to get used to, pretty damn quickly, is “Well, last week, I never thought that…

Everything from the major to the trivial, from the global to the local, from the governmental to the entire personal… has changed.

And since I have fuck all influence on, or authority in, the major, the global and the governmental, I better concentrate on the trivial, the local and the personal.

Well, maybe not the latter, maybe. Not quite yet.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve always been a bit wary and careful about how personal I am in these things.

When I am very personal, it almost always comes as a surprise to me, and it’s rarely intended. Not consciously at least. It’s at least arguable, I suppose, that I’ve been more personal than I’ve consciously intended and exactly as personal as I subconsciously intended. I dunno.

Anyway.

The blog is back. I’ll write some more tomorrow on how I see the blog progressing for the next few months.

But I don’t think I’m spoiling anything if I say that there will be at least some personal stuff, a lot of minor stuff and an awful lot of trivial stuff involved.

(And yes, there’ll be the return of the ‘fast fictions from the archives’, possibly tyhe return of the Saturday Smile in some form (though I’m going back and forth on that one), possibly some new fiction, and some thoughts. Many thoughts.
 
 
See you tomorrow…

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…

Blog post titles are an odd thing. I mean, I ask ‘how are you?’ up there but, let’s be fair, there’s no way for you to respond before I continue, so it’s entirely self-serving and unnecessary.

Welcome to my blog.

As mentioned the other day, I’ve done a few of these countdowns and usually I just leap straight into them, but it’s been over two years since I’ve regularly blogged, so, a reintroduction probably isn’t the worst idea.

OK, so who the hell are you, anyway?
I’m budgie. Hello.

All right, my parents didn’t name me ‘budgie’; they may have been odd in some ways, but they weren’t that odd.

My given name, the name on my passport, is “Lee Barnett”, but I much prefer ‘budgie‘ – you’ll learn why in a moment.

I live in London, very near Abbey Road Studios. Yes, that Abbey Road Studios; Beatles, that album cover, that zebra crossing.

How near? Well, as I tell friends – whenever anything notable happens in London – if the news story doesn’t start with the words ‘Less than half a mile from the world famous…’ it happened nowhere near me.

After growing up in Luton – a great place to come from, but a lousy place to go back to – I’ve spent most of my life living in various parts of London: Ilford, Finchley, a couple of decades in Barnet, four years in Richmond… and now, since early 2017, a couple of miles’ north of Oxford Street, Central London.


I’m divorced, from a very nice lady named Laura, and together we have a son, Phil, who’s now twenty-three. That’s us over there, on the right.

He’s a lovely lad, and I’m incredibly lucky that he’s my son. Of course like any father and son, we share some interests, (comics, comedy, a sense of humour – most of the time), but most decidedly do not share others. I remain entirely puzzled as to his fascination with video games, professional wrestling, and various bands. And he remains utterly mystified by me, on a daily basis.

I’m a writer; there’s more about the writing in a moment, but yeah, that’s how I spend most of my days.

But I used to be an accountant, and in that profession, went from junior auditor, to senior auditor, to audit manager – there were a lot of audits – then grabbed the commercial shilling and ended up as a financial director of a tv channel, one of those you scroll past on your tv’s programme guide. While I rarely discuss specifics, my old profession may come up occasionally over the next few weeks, so… fair to put it out there.

I haven’t been an accountant/financial director for the best part of a decade, though.

A writer friend of mine once introduced me as “This is budgie; he used to be a very good accountant; now he’s a very good writer. The world has enough very good accountants and not enough very good writers’. As compliments go, that’s one I’ll take.

budgie’s perch?
Yeah, suppose I’d better deal with this fairly early on. The blog’s called ‘budgie’s perch’ because it seemed an appropriate title for a blog run by a fella whose nickname is ‘budgie’.

Which doesn’t exactly explain anything, does it?

‘Budgie’ is a nickname I’ve had for – blimey – over thirty-five years, now. Over thirty-five years. I’d ask ‘how the hell did that happen?’ But I can already hear Phil responding ‘that’s the way the calendar works, dad’.

But why ‘budgie‘? Well, the full story’s here, but if you want the ‘long-story-short’ version? What now, sigh, would be called the ‘tl;dr’ version?

I acquired the nickname when I was studying at Manchester Poly, and the name stuck. And though I stopped using it when I left Manchester, it recommenced when I got online in 1995…

And now? Well, far more people know me as – and think of me as – budgie than as Lee. And I much prefer that, to be honest; never particularly liked my ‘first name’, and ‘budgie’ feels more like me these days.

The full detailed story involves – in no particular order – copious amounts of alcohol, freshers, a hypnotist’s evening, and an accountancy lecture.

Yeah.

It’s worth reading.

OK, but budgiehypoth?
For twelve years, over ten British comic book conventions, comics legend Dave Gibbons and I ran a panel entitled hypotheticals. It was fairly popular, and when I was looking for a new URL for this blog, seemed a good concatenation to use.

You can see the logo we used for the panel (over there, to the side) bears a strong resemblance to the icon I use for myself online, and for this blog; Dave designed the original, and he did a ‘budgie’ version as a parting gift when we wound up the panel in 2011.

But, hey, for twelve years, I got to say I wrote scripts for Dave Gibbons. You can’t beat that.

But still… budgie’s perch?
Be grateful; the braindump I use to kickstart the writing muscles every day is named Going Cheep.

writings
Everything from being commissioned comedy for BBC Radio 4, the occasional bit for TV, a few comics stories (including writing an X-Men story) a novel entitled You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly and publishing two collections of very, very short stories in The Fast Fiction Challenge:

Both books are also available via Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. e-Versions (for Kindle, Sony reader, iBooks, etc.) can be obtained – email me and I’ll supply the ebook(s) in either .epub or .mobi version on request… Volume 1 (180 stories) is £4.00, or equivalent in local currency; volume 2 (200 stories) is £5.00

I also wrote three radio shows with Mitch Benn for Radio 4, and helped out with his past few Edinburgh shows.

What else?

  • erm… My alcohol of choice is single malt whiskey, neat: Jura or The Balvenie, or occasionally Glenfiddich. I can’t really afford that regularly, so a decent blended will do; never really got a taste for beer.
  • Oh, I’m Jewish; it’ll probably come up over the next few weeks at some point. I’ve never quite sorted out my relationship with my religion; I’m still figuring that one out, and have been for, oh, 40 years or so. That caveat aired, on most things, I at least try to be rational, I try to be a sceptic, to withhold belief in something until there’s evidence. I don’t always succeed.
  • That said, when it comes to my being Jewish, and given that this blog will comment upon current UK politics, it’s more than possible that Israel might come up in discussion. Just a heads up: if you’re looking to have some fun telling me that Israel has no right to even exist, you might as well quit reading now, and go off and do something we’ll both enjoy a lot more.
  • I’m in my mid-50s, so under the laws of blogging, my physical health will probably come up at some point. Other than my fucked up foot (about more of which here), it’ll likely just the usual health comments, scares and moaning.
  • Hmmm. Health. OK, I’ve had some mental health… ‘issues’, I believe they’re sometimes called. I have no intention right now to go into detail, publicly. That may change as the next eight weeks goes by. Let’s see how scared I am by the prospect.
  • Oh, and since I mentioned fear… I’ve a few phobias. Or do I? Phobias are irrational fears and I happen to think my fear of being stung by wasps or bees is entirely rational. But spiders bigger than teeny tiny in size? Yeah, ok that might be one of the tad irrational ones.

Finally in this list of stuff you didn’t need to know about me: there are things I genuinely regret not doing. Rarely, however, are they The Big Things that people are supposed to regret: lost loves, lost opportunities in life, that one person you passed in the street, never spoke to, but have thought about every day for years…

Mine are less grand. I wish I’d learned to use a slide rule; somehow never got around to it. I wish I’d paid attention during history classes at school, but then I’d have missed the joy in later life of discovering how much fun history can be. I have a mouth organ, purchased by friends of mine after I said I’d like to learn to play. I never have learned to play it, and I really should do something about that.

I think that’s about it for now. Anything else, ask away…

Oh, and see you tomorrow when there’ll be something much less about me and more about… something else.

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.

I know most people reading this already know who I am, and all, so you can skip the rest of this post if you’d like. But what with the re-emergence of this blog for the seventy-five day countdown to 1st January 2017, I seem to have attracted a few recent new visitors to this blog and to Twitter.

Been a while since I’ve done this, so why not update it?

Why not indeed…

Something specifically for Twitter followers… It’s been a while since I’ve done this, so it’s probably worth doing if only for future reference.

So, a quick non-Frequently Asked Questions.


So you’ve decided to follow me on Twitter or read the blog. Thank you! I’ll try to make the experience an enjoyable one.

So, don’t take this the wrong way, but who are you? I just added you because [other Twitter user] suggested it
I’m Lee “Budgie” Barnett; I’m British; I live in Ham, near Richmond. I used to be involved in the most peripheral of ways in comics, and ran a successful panel at UK comics conventions with Dave Gibbons entitled hypotheticals. Ask your parents about it; they may distantly remember it.

I write. I’ve written for radio, tv, the occasional comic book, an online novella, and several hundred 200 word slices of fiction as part of The Fast Fiction Challenge, including 150 stories written in 150 days during one stint. For a few years, I did The Twelve Days of Fast Fiction, you can read them in the link you just skipped past. Similarly, in 2013, I wrote twenty-four of them in twenty-four hours for Comic Relief. You can read all about them here.

Many of these stories have been collected, and several collections have been published so far; you’ll see me promote t hem every so often when I want some cash to expose new relders to them. Volume 1 of The Fast Fiction Challenge, containing 180 tales, was published in 2009. Volume 2 of The Fast Fiction Challenge, containing another 200 stories, was published in late 2010.

There’s also the ebook of You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, available at all good email addresses, i.e. mine

“Budgie”? Why “Budgie”?
It’s a story you used to have to get me very drunk to tell… but after too many tellings, I stuck up the story here.

You use your name as your icon. That’s a bit weird.
I know. It is, isn’t it? David Gibbons designed the icon when we wrapped up hypotheticals. I started using it then and never really had a reason to change.

You’re hiding what you look like! Are you one of these anonymous trolls I’ve heard about?
Naah, not really. But it’s a perfectly understandable assumption. Here, this is what I look like: A Life In Pictures – December 2015 update. I update it at the close of the year.  

Anything else?
Yes, I have a son; he’s 21. (I know, I don’t look old enough, you’re too kind.) His name’s Phil, but for some reason his mother insists on calling him ‘Philip’. He gets mentioned every so often, usually complete with some indication of the pride and love I feel for him. He’s studying at Aberystwyth University right now, and probably in lectures. Or shooting music and gig videos with his fiancée, Rheannon. 

His mum’s name’s Laura; she’s one of my favourite people on the planet. We got divorced last year though we’d been apart since 2005.

What kinds of things do you blog about?
A mixture of fiction, my thoughts on various matters important and unimportant, occasional links to other people’s blogs or news reports, photos, videos… oh the usual. There are some standards, however; a Saturday Smile post, occasionally some politics, very occasionally a rant about something that’s pissed me off. And I’ll post something on 9th January every year in memorial for my late brother who died at 38.

You lost your brother? Shit, man, I’m so sorry.
That’s ok; you didn’t know. Here’s what I wrote about him this year.

You said you write about silly things as well though, yes?
Oh yeah. Here’s something about The History of the World. You’ll like it.

What kinds of things do you tweet about?
A mixture of utter nonsense, references to interesting posts – either on Twitter or their blogs – that other people have made, replies to questions, and occasional bursts of frustration.

You’re not going to overload me with your tweets, are you?
Oh, I hope not. Many of my tweets are replies to other people, so if you don’t follow them as well, you’re fine.

That’s not all of them, though, right?
Well, no.

So you’re going to follow me back, right?
Not always, no. I tend to follow people that I know for the most part. But engage me in conversation, comment on the blog, and it’s quite probable that I’ll add you. I’ll usually take a look at your recent tweets though, and may not… If so, sorry in advance, no offence intended.

You’re not going to get pissed off if I unfollow you, are you?
I’ll be furious and… no, of course not. Plenty of reasons why people unfollow me: I tweet on stuff they’re not interested in, or they followed me out of curiosity and that curiosity has been well and truly assuaged. Mostly, though, people unfollow me because they’re bored by my feed. That’s ok. Welcome to Twitter. 

I’m new to this Twitter thing. What do you use to tweet from? Come to that, how do you blog?
 Come to that, Almost without exception, I’m tweeting from either my iPhone or my iPad. If so, it’s usually from the Tweetbot app. I prefer it for all sorts of reasons to Twitter’s own app, but on the rare occasions I tweet a poll, it’ll be from the Twitter app. For blogging, I use the WordPress app.

Are you anywhere else online?
Other than here? Yes, I do a daily braindump – a couple of hundred words or so on whatever strikes me – on a tumblr entitled going cheep. NoI’m not on Facebook.

So what’s your Twitter account again?
I’m on @budgie

Not a lot to say, to be honest – just didn’t think that people were enjoying the daily blogs… and when I took a break, I didn’t get any negative responses to doing so.

So… while there may be a blog entry or five coming up before the year-end (I’ve half a dozen half-written quite important ones), and they may even have the “2014 minus…” header, they’ll be the exception.

However, there will new content, for more of which check the next entry on this blog, which should be up shortly.

Reading Amanda Palmer’s latest blog entry set my brain a-running in various directions, always a dangerous consequence, but not necessarily an unpleasant one.

In the entry, Amanda makes the point that

often blogging is just mind-shitting. sometimes tweeting is just soul-puking.

but when it’s not?

art-making, writing and music-making have never been so DEMOCRATIC.

I can’t disagree, with either statement.

And that started me thinking about the plethora of instructions handed out or made available to users of that new-fangled invention: the telephone.

A good summary of phone etiquette through the years is here, courtesy of ars technica.

Included within the above link is the glorious image you can see to your right, an advert from 1910.

Now I started blogging in 2002, long after some people reading this, and long before many others. Nine years. And I joined Twitter in January 2007, although I didn’t start regularly tweeting for about eighteen months.

Thing is – no-one told me there were any rules.

Because, to a large extent, there aren’t. If any instruction manual was given to me, showing what the etiquette was for online communication, I threw it away years ago, relying upon my own common sense to judge what was (I felt) appropriate and inappropriate.

Now if only everyone agreed with me as to what was appropriate and inappropriate, there wouldn’t be any problems. But people will insist on having their own ideas, morals and ethics.

And immediately after they threw their own instruction manuals away, they started showing those differences.

There are consequences to posting either on a blog, or on Twitter, sure. And they’re the same rules, by and large, that apply to any form of communication. You’re still liable to defamation of character law-suits if you do, indeed defame someone. You’re still open to attacks in response to your words if you offend, as Ricky Gervais is discovering this week.

I’m not about to debate the rights and wrongs of his position here, just to reassure you, although feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll answer direct questions.

However, on the subject of offence, Jerry Sadowitz’s line

Being offended is a tax you pay so you can laugh at jokes that offend other people

is being bandied around as if that’s the be-all and end-all of discussion. Leaving aside that Sadowitz was specifically discussing humour, taking his position to its logical conclusion would imply that it’s quite ok to use, say, the ‘n’ word any time you want to, as if you offend someone, so what? They get the right to offend you in return. No further consequences should follow.

Life doesn’t work that way, and nor should it. You don’t make gags about child murder to the parents of murdered children; you don’t don’t (factually correctly though it might be) call me “Jew-boy”, and you don’t use words that are generally acknowledged to be offensive words deliberately to inflame those who find it offensive.

This isn’t legislation-requiring. This is common courtesy and decent humanity.

But then, of course, we come to offence, and the taking of it, itself.

Is there a meaningful difference between when it’s intended, and when it’s not?

Does offence occur only when offence is intended? Suppose offence is intended, but then that intention is denied?

A says something. B is offended. A denies any intention to offend. C – It’s always that bastard C that causes problems, you note – C says that he can’t see how anyone could take offence at A’s comment.

Who’s right?

And, if your answer is, “it depends”, then who makes that judgement as to whether an item has ‘crossed the line’?

This entire subject does have a history for me, going back some years. On an online message board, someone asked whether the Blood Libel could actually have happened? The person concerned had a history of posting anti-Israel, rather than anti-Jewish messages. (Note, not anti-Israeli Government, but anti-Israel, suggesting that the country had no right to exist, and should be destroyed.)

I, along with other Jewish members of the message board took offence at the question (“Can we even be sure that these supposed murders didn’t occur, in some bizarre sectlet of Judaism”) since, as far as we were concerned, it gave credence to a base canard. However, the person who asked the question defended it as merely asking a question and ostensibly, at least, believed that the question itself was neutral, since all that was required was a “no” in reply.

So where does the middle path lay? Or should a middle path ever exist?

And that’s ignoring (we’re back here again, folks) the whole area of humour: if A cracks a gag that I find offensive, does that mean the gag’s not inherently funny? Of course not, any more that it means that a gag I find funny is inherently funny. After all, you might not find it humorous. Indeed, you might find it offensive.

Does it all come down to courtesy? I don’t tell gags that you find offensive in your hearing, and you don’t tell gags that I find offensive in mine? What if you find the very notion of the joke offensive (say you consider it racist). Do you try to stop me telling the joke, even if you’re not around to hear it?

But even leaving aside the humour element, in a democracy isn’t it everyone’s right to be offended? Does that give people the right to offend? And if so, shouldn’t the work be criticised rather than the person producing the work? (A bit like the difference between me doing or saying something stupid… and me being stupid?)

And if so… is there a point where what I do or say denotes a trend (personal or wider ranging) and if so, who gets the right to decide when that occurs?

Damn, this could get complicated…

I need an instruction manual, I think.

If only I hadn’t thrown it away.