For Goodness Sake, Just Write A Weblog Column Already…

And the goodness may be your own peace of mind.

One day recently I made a bad purchase – for a small price. Neither the seller nor I were aware of a defect in a product that rendered it valueless. There was no chance of recompense from a supplier or maker – they were unknown and far away. The only saving grace about the whole thing was the low price of the article – it was not worth raising a stink about it to anyone.

But it was worth writing a weblog column about – tying in memories of cheap goods from Hong Kong that plagued us in the 1950’s and contrasting that with the generally high standard of production from China these days. Didn’t put the coin back in my pocket, but did keep the thing in perspective – and the release of steam meant that the rest of the boiler remained calm.

The weblog column is much maligned as too petty for real writers to bother with – and too common for real readers to look at. Bit of elitism there, but it doesn’t touch the real benefit that writing one may give; the opportunity to vent a grievance or order your mind when no-one else will listen. If I were a single person without family or friends – which I thank the Lord is not the case – I would regard the humble blog as a lifeline to sanity.

As it is, I have looked at sanity and decided that I didn’t need it all that much.

The Terrible Yamina

If you were looking for an internet columnist who will write mean things about people, I’m your man. I’m available 24 hours a day to bang out copy telling the world how dreadful your enemies are – no target goes unscathed. I charge reasonable prices for scandalous writing, and I have an ABN number so you can get a tax deduction.

Except today – this is the one day of the year when I write nice things about people – and today it is about Yamina, the Samba dancer.

She was kind enough yesterday to buy me a ticket to the movies during the Festival Of French Cinema and accompany me to the show. As a French teacher, she could get a lot more from the film than I, but fortunately there were very good subtitles. And as it was a show about music and dance, the soundtrack and visuals spoke for themselves.

Totally not what I thought it was going to be. The title was Le Grand Bal, and I expected opera or theatre costuming, sweeping staircases, and Offenbach. As it turned out, it was a doco on one of the festivals of folk music and dance held in the central part of France in the summer. She had been to many of these in similar circumstances and this was the connection. Apparently it was a very accurate as well as charming film.


I found it fascinating seeing people dressed as ordinary tourists but doing extraordinary things – dancing for 7 days and 8 nights while taking workshop lessons and getting 2 hours of sleep in the interim. Performing intricate art for their own enjoyment. Acting as an impromptu corps du ballet – perfectly controlled, and all to folk instruments. Amazing.

After the show another member of the audience recognised her and rushed over to find out if this sort of dancing ball would ever be held here in Perth.

Note: it is very much of advantage to have an experienced French wine-drinker looking at the wine list in a restaurant when you want something good to drink.

But Terrible? Why have I written Terrible? Easy…

I teased her that I was going to write a column with this title, so I know she is now going to read the column assiduously. I am not ashamed to get my readers by subterfuge and sneaky tricks…Of course there is nothing at all terrible about her – quite the contrary – but now she’s reading.

Mwa Ha ha ha …


Does It Bother Me…?

Does it bother me that so few of the posts on this weblog column go viral – that so few phone calls come through inviting me to the White House or Buckingham Palace? Do I gnaw my vitals and weep into the pillow at being in relative obscurity?

Not a bit. Everything I’ve ever written has been read by someone – even if it was only me. And in reading it, they and I have gained something. Unlike the writer of a newspaper column, my words have not been wadded up and used to clean windows or wipe bums. These thoughts all come out on the computer or mobile phone screen. Try wiping with that, Wilbur.

Sometime these things ring a literary or social bell and I hear it reverberating. Sometimes they fall on deaf ears. Sometimes I deliberately avoid posting copies them onto Facebook because I fear that they will cause offence. Sometimes I post away with just that intent.

In all cases the act of writing the weblog column has kept my mind active and allowed me to order the universe to my satisfaction. It goes awry a moment later, of course, but for a brief period it is correct. I live for those moments.

All Side Bars – All The Time

Tell ya what. Make the experiment. Set up a Weblog page.

You don’t need to commit lot of money to do it…I haven’t spent a penny on this column in all the years it has been running. Just grab a free WordPress or Blogger theme, invent a name for it, and away you go. Consult your own mind and conscience as to the topic you’ll cover and try to find something in your picture collection to head it.

Watch as the world beats a pathway to your screen…and then look closely at who makes up that world. You may be astonished to find that you have an audience of people and organisations who are trying to tell you how you are doing it all wrong and who are prepared to correct that for a small price. It’s almost as if they are not interested in you, but in your money. How odd.

You will be presented with complex computer and social media plans that compel you to to write special words to attract attention. I should avoid references to political leaders or discussion of explosives. Some attention you don’t need.

You may work with a platform that scrutinises your grammar and spelling. Do not take it badly if you have a screen full of red and green lines after you have poured your heart out. Take some amusement in the fact that the all-wise circuit will also allow you to pore your hart otternschlag and think it perfect…

You will be spammed. Though if you want a Russian bride or cheap perfume or on-line gambling you may be delighted with the haul in the spam catcher. Again do not be angry as it is only the machines talking to each other – you can dismiss it out of hand.

Your position in the crowd will be no better than anyone else’s based on any of the complex schemes that are presented, but  just occasionally you’ll have the satisfaction of seeing one of your images or one of your thoughts show up on a regular Google search. Craft them so that if they live forever, they are a credit to you.

What Is The Difference…

Untitled-1I have been puzzling about what the difference between a newspaper column and an internet weblog – and whether there is really any difference…


No there isn’t any difference. The newspaper columnist’s words are published by another entity – the newspaper. The weblog columnist’s words…and images…are published by a third party; WordPress or Blogger or some such faceless corporation.

The newspaper writer goes out and gets information, gossip, and scandal to interest the reader – the newspaper sells itself to the reader an the advertisers – and the advertisers sell things to the readers. On this WordPress weblog column you will get random advertisements round the thing, based upon where you have been browsing on the net recently.

The newspaper writer can be censored by the newspaper’s editor or publisher. They in turn can be influenced by a myriad of further controllers…sometimes even by good taste or good sense. Okay, stop laughing, this is serious…The weblog writer can also have their pages pulled by the host if they go over certain boundaries.

Finally, most newspaper columnists are enormously jealous of their position and protective of their column. So are weblog columnists. In neither case do we want to be bumped off by other writers.



Yes, there is a difference. The newspaper columnist gets paid money. the weblog writer just gets to write. Their position is akin to that of the aspiring novelist – they have a vast choice of garrets in which they can starve. The weblog columnists who write about articulated steam locomotives have Beyer-Garretts to starve in. Thats a locomotive joke but it rarely moves under its own power. Laugh, damn it.

The newspaper columnist has the vast prestige or sordid reputation of the newspaper to back up whatever they write. people assume they are telling the truth or peddling the lie based upon the previous track record of the rag. This is no little influence – writers who craft lies within a paper that is seen as the paragon of virtue can frequently have those lies believed and spread further. Conversely, but oddly, the newspaper columnist who tells the clear truth in a paper that is generally seen to be fit for only wrapping fish can get away with it too – no-one believes them anyway.

The weblog columnist has no reputation to boast of or sully. They are out there on their own and stand or fall on their own merits. No-one assumes that because WordPress carries your exposition on the trade in live Hyundai sedans that it is true. No-one cares.

Finally, the newspaper columnist can frequently be a welcome, if feared guest at a social function. Courted for what they might say, and avoided for the same reason. They are offered free liquor and cheese cubes on toothpicks. The weblog columnist is thoroughly ignored. This is not as bad as it sounds – as they are invisible they get to hear more scandal and can steal their own drinks and cheese.