United States - wibbler.com

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.
Barbara

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 wibbler.com 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.

USA power cuts

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How much do we rely on electricity? Just turn on your news channel to find out. The USA power cuts have brought a lot of America to a stand still, with many jumpy citizens calling it a terrorist tragedy. Which of course it isn’t. A side effect of this – MSN Messenger appears to have stopped working. It’s my own personal tragedy.

Post-War Links

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A couple of post-war-related links:
Turning Tables – A US soldier blogs away from Iraq about life, the universe and dusty roads.
Baghdad Bulletin – If you like the war, you’ll love this, Iraq’s only English-speaking, independent news magazine, online.

Nick’s Housewarming

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My new clean-living lifestyle has only one side effect: when I do actually go to party and drink recklessly, I feel utterly, utterly dreadful the next morning. I took Nick’s housewarming party last night as a clear opportunity to drink most of a bottle of vodka, as we partied in his lovely new house. The 42 inch TV in the corner gave us the surreal situation of slowly getting leathered while watching bombs dropping on Baghdad. The US forces’ ‘shock and awe’ tactics of bombing the hell out of Iraq went into action – the shock was somewhat numbed by the alcohol, but I was certainly in awe. This war is being televised more than any other conflict, and it’s grippingly horrifying.

Simon H’s Bank Safe

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Just when nothing’s happening, something happens. If you see what I mean. Simon H works in a bank. And last night, he managed to lock the bank safe in a way that only he can, resulting in the bank not being able to dispense money ALL DAY today. How we laughed.

I don’t think the load of text messages to his mobile (“Is your job still SAFE?”, “Drive SAFEly”, “The US is in a bit of terrorist bother, but the UK seems SAFE”) went down well either…