Barbara is disappointed.

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Having a high visitor count means I get a load of interesting emails about the site. I’m pleased to say most of them are complementary, others less so. In fact, recently I’ve even had phone calls to ask when the next post might be – and I agree my post-rate has plummeted. However, a couple of recent emails by a visitor broke from the norm. Let me explain.
Late on Saturday night, I was leafing through my latest mountain of emails, when this came in:

name: Leveller

enquiry: “I look at many ‘alternative’ sites on the web and have yrs
currently in favourites. My q is – what are you actually FOR? If
yr posts are in the vein of ‘What I saw on my way to Sainsbury’s’
it is of no interest whatsoever. The talk at present is of fake
web pages put on pretending to be radical but really the work of
the GB establishment. Are you one of these? You need to read
some more of the things coming over from the US and weep. Can u
tell me of any real alternative web-sites from GB that aren’t set
up by Tiny Bliar?”

“Leveller” had gained my attention. What was I for exactly? I stared at the ceiling, twiddled my thumbs and tried to figure out an answer. However, it was no good. It was late, I was tired, and I didn’t have to reply that night. I mentally put it on my “to do” pile.
Leveller, however, was eager for attention. So much so, in fact, that when she received an automatic email to announce a new post on my site, she immediately fired an email back. Incensed, she was.

Leveller: “I thought that yr reply was in answer to my email the other day. Instead it is some brainless advert for a TV programme. I have taken your site off my favourites. Please do not email me again.

Just a moment, Barbara, I thought. Hold your horses! “Brainless advert”, she says, completely missing the point of my post. Taking me off her favourites! She’s a harsh woman, and no mistake. “Please don’t email me again”, she finishes, disallowing me the chance to reply with my sentiments.
7.30am this morning was not a good time to read a vaguely hostile email from a misinformed reader. I wasn’t going to sit there like a lemon and take that. I considered a vicious riposte – but then that would not help the cause. So, after a few minutes thought, I started a gentler reply.

Dear Barbara,” my email began. It was a good start, I thought.
“Thank you for your opinions on my site. In answer to your questions – and I apologise for the work-induced delay in answering – my site
posts really are whatever I feel like posting. If I had a particularly entertaining trip to Sainsburys, I shall post about it. If I feel strongly about a certain political point – or as in this case I feel strongly about a certain television programme – I shall post about it.
If I don’t have time to make a post, I won’t – after all, getting
things done in real life is more important than writing witty posts
about them.
But I think the key point is this – that I write the weblog for
myself. I don’t write it for anyone else, but I write them for my own
records of events and opinions, so that I can look back in many years
time and reminisce. Obviously I don’t mind at all if other people read it – that’s why it’s on the internet and not in a book on a dusty shelf.
I’m sorry that you think the site not suitable for your reading list – but I hope you understand that it won’t alter my reasons for posting, or the topics I choose. However, your emails recently have given me a reason to post on the site – so thank you very much.
Perhaps you can point me to your weblog so that I can see how it should be done?”

And, after brimming with pride at that final sentence, I posted the conversation here for others to chew over. It’s not so much to raise poor old Barbara on a pedestal and point fingers at her – although that may be as tempting a reason as any – but more because my reply answers anyone who’s wondered why on earth exists. Hell, as I was writing, I even answered my own questions about why I continue to post inane banter and links, albeit less frequently these days.
But then, it’s only a weblog – updating it, or indeed reading it, is not life or death. Barbara, bless you for your emails. I must say its been a pleasure knowing you.

Mel’s Party

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On Saturday, for the first time in a few months, I went to a house party. My friend Mel had invited Jac and I (purely for entertainment value, apparently) to South London for a knees up, and, after a visit to Sainsbury’s, where I asked a complete stranger if he had any marshmellows (I SWEAR he looked like he worked there…), we duly turned up with some alcohol and, randomly, a small packet of Gungo peas. “Finger food”, Jac explained, although quite how a selection of small dried peas from Jamaica could pass as ideal party nibbles, no-one could quite explain. Least of all Jac…
After loudly and mistakenly calling my good friend Ellie W-P “Mel” whilst everyone dissolved in tears of laughter around me, Jac and I settled into our well-worn “party joker” monikers. Ellie C did the honours on the barbeque, managing to drop most of the food through the bars into the ash, and forgetting to bring round the dips, instead just furnishing us with bread sticks. The evening, bless it, passed largely without incident, save for Jac’s poor hearing – he mistook the name Claudia Schiffer for Corduroy Shifter (“that well-known trouser salesman”), and his uncanny ability to make me cry with laughter. During a lull in the conversation, I noticed a strange waft coming in through the window. “Do you have an Indian round here?”, I asked, noting the familiar smell of an indian restaurant, “There’s a strange smell coming from outside…”. “Yes, ” replied Mel, “there’s one just around the corner”. At which point Jac, completely misunderstanding the situation, yelled out the window, “GO AND HAVE A SHOWER, YOU SMELLY MAN”.
I didn’t fully recover for several minutes…