Sunday, October 19, 2008



With apologies to Vicus, who recently suggested that blogging posts about blogging are wanky, tedious and self referential. He is right, of course.

I found out about this because Geoff happened to be looking up stuff on the internet the other night. 

Um, anyway, the blogger who shall go unmentioned can't be writing about me, er, can she? Possibly. There seem to be a few too many coincidences ...

I published an off the cuff post a few months ago which was a hasty response to a TV interview with a journalist/writer.  She had a blog which she'd used as a platform to promote her writing. I'd not read the blog in question at the time.  

I couldn't remember exactly what I'd written and had to re-read the post.  It was written in bloody July after all!  I was relieved to find out that the opinions expressed are ones I'd still stand by, and agree with a lot of the comments that were made by other bloggers. 

Hmm, I'd better come back with some sort of response to her though - because I'm a sad failure who has nothing better to do.  I'm not appearing at village fetes or hanging out snorting coke at Bungalow 8 with Michelle McManus, Gloria Hunniford  and Vernon Kay, or whatever it is you do when you're a hugely successful writer.  Boo hoo for me then.

Look, I really don't want to have to mention this again here, because it seems to be my endless and irritating theme, but ... I AM A BLOGGER, NOT A WRITER.

I will hold my hands up and say that my writing is crappy, ill thought out, pointless ranting. There are a few spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. My knowledge of the English language comes from a bog standard 1970's comprehensive school education.  Middle class people have a problem with the "poor" use of the English language. It's one of the things they use to beat down the lower orders with, along with the fact that *we* all eat Iceland ready meals and burgers straight from the freezer rather than cooking everything *from scratch* for three days on the Aga.

What I love about blogging is that it gives people from supposedly ordinary backgrounds a chance to express themselves. If they only have an audience of three people who they already know, if what they write about is of limited interest, if the blog isn't even that good - who gives a fuck? It's a form of self expression and communication.

I love the diversity of the people who blog, the lack of rules, the way bloggers link to others, the spontaneity, the informality, the eclecticism and, often, the writing.

What I don't like is the implication that there is a hierarchy of bloggers, and that the ones with the biggest audiences and the book deals are the only bloggers that matter.

They may be the ones who'll be interviewed on Radio Four, or featured in arts supplements. Good luck to them.  It's great that they've got ahead in that way.

However, the fact that someone has a book deal, a big audience and a shed load of money doesn't instantly mean that they're "good". If this were the case, the writers of Beyond The Implode or Ritual Landscape would be raking the cash in. Hah!

Strange, isn't it, that said blogger who shall go unmentioned really, really thinks that all bloggers yearn to write a book and get a book deal and make loads of money, and we are jealous of the fact that she has worked as a journalist for fifty years, man and boy, and her blog is a fuck of a fuck of a lot betterer and betterer and more popular than anyone else's blog and, by the way, and, not a lot of people know this, we are all jealous of these facts.

Can't speak for all of you, but I don't want a book deal. I wanted to be an author when I was eight years old, and then I grew out of it. The only other thing I ever really wanted to be was Debbie Harry when I was fifteen ... or did I really just want to *have* Debbie Harry? Probably both.

I like the anonymity of blogging. I don't publish pictures of myself or talk about my private life in any detail and I've not met any other bloggers. Not really my type of thing. I'm a social phobic and find it easier to write stuff down than talk to people. Get over it. I have.

So, no - I'm not going to write my own book and I'm not going to make a shed load of money and I'm not going to be interviewed by Richard And Judy. You know what? I'm really fucking happy about that because I'm happy enough with my real life.  

I'm pretty sure that at least one or two of my, hem hem, "blogging penpals" aren't writing novels and don't have a desire to do so either.

In fact,  the thing I really object to in the post written by the blogger who shall go unmentioned is the use of the term "blogging penpals" (aka low earning failures in life who don't have any real friends). Shouldn't someone who's a seasoned and successful writer and who has been on the Charles Wheeler-style journalism frontline for several hundred years call them "civilians"? 

Anyway, rant over for another day. I'm off to collect Thomasina from her Greek Studies class, and Max has to have cello tuition ... sigh ... when will the fun ever start?

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You are right and I agree with you.
(And I've just been over at Geoff's agreeing with him, so I'll try not to repeat myself)

What some 'bloggers' can't seem to cope with is that they can't impose their hierarchy on blogging, no matter how they try, because we just won't be having it will we!!!
Vicus will not be very pleased with you for publishing this. Good.
I think she misunderstood the concept of blogging.

She thought the first vowel was an "a".

PS If Vicus disagrees he should be defrocked. (defrocked Vicus...do you see what I did there?)
Well said! The success of a blogger can only be measured by their original intentions.

"...rather than cooking everything *from scratch* for three days on the Aga. "

My late uncle grew up in the days when all food was cooked on ranges, and he had very strong opinions about people who think it's cool to adopt a 'peasant' lifestyle when they have enough money to protect themselves from the nasty side effects.
The fact that you don't want a book deal makes me even more certain that if you were to write a blog, it would be hysterical.

And if you were to move to Northumberland to write it, it would be even funnier.
Betty, hurrah for you (yet again).

Some people then really can't seem to grasp that anyone might choose to something for reasons other than paving their way to profit. And some people are just irritating. And then there are some to whom both apply.

At least the silly sort didn't use the word 'hater'. that's something to be thankful for.
I deliberately try and make my blog posts less "writer"-ly.
These "professional" bloggers miss the point, but they don't matter. What matters is the perception held by many that there's no point doing a blog if only five people and a dog read it. My students don't see any point in doing something like this, because they see everything as a popularity contest.

Surely being into blogs is like being into bandss - the more obscure, the better?
You tell the world Betty!

Most Bloggers would prolly be delighted to sign a book deal and watch the Publishing House truck pull up and dump a huge pile of money on the front lawn.

I call the blogosphere the avenue of the everyman.
The real charm of it all is that on any given Sunday joe-blo can scribble his thoughts and exchange ideas with another sentient being...it doesn't matter if the others are famous or disguised or fictional or in the apartment next door...it's the egalitarianism that keeps it real and whatever the hell it is, it belongs to the Blogger, and this is my theory..

which reminds me of Miss Anne Elk's theory on MPFC which I shall liberally paraphrase but still credit to MPFC....

"this BLOG theory of mine. Well, this is what it is - my BLOG theory that I have, that is to say, which is mine, is mine.

My BLOG theory by A. Elk. Brackets Miss, brackets.
This BLOG theory goes as follows and begins now.

All POSTINGS are thin at one end, much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end.

That is my BLOG theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too.
And furthermore...

Judith doesn't have the likes of Donnnnnnnnnn on her Blogroll, does she?

AND she's deprived of the company of those above me such as Beth, Murph, Kate, Tim, Russ, Billy, Maximum Bob, or any of the other fine folk on YOUR blogroll.

Yes, even Vicus.
The one at school who would say: "You're just jealous...". I would sit and think while the hair-tossing and group pecking went on: "No you don't get it. It's more simple than that and much more complicated; I don't like how you use the things the world arranges you always get. I don't want to be you. Because I don't like you, you see."
All bloggers are equals, but some bloggers it would appear are more equal than others.

Blogging is a pretty dysfunctional activity, which is why I like it.
Beth - yes, a blogging hierarchy. It's a bit like being back at school, isn't it? It should be a haven away from all that "gold star" or "distinction" stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with blogs that get a big audience, but it should be a level playing field.

MJ - not another beef! Bloggers are all supposed to lerve one another, and here we are issuing death threats and the like! I've got so much love for you, Vicus and even Judith. I'd like to have a group cyber hug for about half an hour. It makes me well up just to think about it.

Murph - I'm all for blagging bloggers. In fact, the one thing that makes me bitter is that I don't get sent free booze, cocaine, designer clothes or even "I Love Technoranki" mugs. I've been blogging for four and a half years and no free gifts in all that time! I've never seen Vicus in a frock.

Kate - yeah, the Aga fetish is a bit strange. I saw Toyah Wilcox showing people around her "lovely home" on breakfast TV a few days ago (!) and she was talking about how lovely and warm the Aga made her kitchen. I mean, in modern homes with central heating, where you can wear t-shirts all year round, how much heat do you need in a house, keeping a range on all day? Why not just install a cauldron in the house?

Tim - maybe I'd make the effort if I could move in next door to Judith O'Reilly, with "hilarious" consequences, then it could be turned into a feeble BBC1 sitcom. Couldn't be worse than My Family, could it? Judith with her Aga and fundraising activities and me turning up with my awful disco and house records and takeaway curries ... "My Chav Next Door", anyone?
'Surely being into blogs is like being into bands - the more obscure, the better' I like that, a lot, Maximum Bob. I can now think of my blog as a cool obscure indie band and not a deserted ghost town with only tumbleweed for company.
Russ - well, I'm from a fairly poor background (not borderline poverty or anything like that). Wealth doesn't impress me, and people who say "I've got more money than you, so suck on THAT, you're just jealous" do even less to impress me. It's strange that anyone should even think that somebody would be jealous of a person who has more money than them or, er, a book deal!

Oyebilly - oh, I know, "writerly" blogs. All that hand wringing and over emoting about "the real stuff of life". Once you get past the first fifty thousand words you tend to fall asleep!

MaxBob - popularity contest? I blame The X-Factor for this. I suppose young people like to be the most popular in their peer group, but from what I recall about being young (several centuries ago) there was always a sense of one upmanship about liking the most obscure bands, that sort of thing. The world must have changed since then!

Donnnn - pretty well summed up with regards to the egalitarianism. Mind you, a lot of people probably like some sort of "order", or a hierarchy, or they don't like to respond to commenters on their blog because it would be a bit silly and random and penpally ... as for the book deal business, well, I wouldn't mind someone turning up with a truck load of money for me, but I wouldn't want to have to write a book in order to get that money. I'm very lazy, and it would interfere with my spare time, in which I'd rather be doing very profound stuff like drinking tea or drooling over pictures of Gary Oldman. Hem hem.

MJ - is anyone on Judith's blogroll as handsome as Donnnn, the darkly moody male model pin up of blogging? If there's anything I like about this blog it isn't my crappy posts, it's the diverse visitors and the comments. Without them I'd just give up and go into a sulk. Vicus is just a big old softy.

Arabella - oh, I know. That's the way the world works, isn't it? For some reason, I'm reminded of my slightly older cousin, who my mother insisted I had to see every couple of Saturday afternoons so that I could "bond" with her. We always used to argue and she once said to me in a very patronising way "you only say nasty things about me because I've won the May Queen gala and you haven't". I don't know why I mention this, but it sort of sums everything up.

Garfer - blogging is dysfunctional and unhealthy. We should all be having dinner parties, bonding with family and friends or, better still, having a cold shower and doing a three hour workout. That would make us all balanced human beings. Instead, here I am drinking beer too quickly and typing at 100 wpm on a Sunday night. All too sad.
Annie - well, your blog is supposed to be retired until the new year, so I put forward the idea that you're the My Bloody Valentine of blogging, with a faithful cult audience that keeps grumbling "where the bloody hell has she gone to?"
Good work Betty.
A lifetime of 'success' in the media makes it very difficult to maintain any kind of humility, as the good lady proves. Success and fame, even though most of us would take it, comes at a price.
My daughter drew this one to my attention and, unwisely, I left one of those mealy-mouthed, trying-to-be-nice 'don't really like the blog, but you're perfectly entitled to say what you want and cash in if you can' comments. Regret leaving the comment and have deleted it since, although that's basically still what I think.

There are always going to be people who get all competitive over the slightest thing. I bet Judith was a demon at lacrosse at school. I hated that 'my blog's better than your blog' crack - exactly misses the point of blogging.

I used to be a journalist too and I wouldn't mind writing a book, but the 'escape to the country' thing has been done to death, revived and then done to death again, so I won't.

Wife In The North isn't really a blog, it's a draft for a book and quite a lot of people like it which is fair enough - a lot of people like Heartbeat on the telly. I'm not at all keen, so I will resist all temptation to go there again.

And I don't know if Judith was singling Betty out - a lot of people have said much worse about her.
my darling, you have just been given a star for your crown. you have done precisely what 'they' say you have no right to do, which is to tip one of the self-important off their high horse with a WELL AIMED tomato, and to have an audience while you did it. I absolutely LOVE it! I am hugging myself in glee here! (which makes
it difficult to type.)

this is what you can expect from people who view blogging as a competition or a popularity contest with rules and winners and prizes. fortunately, people like you are still out there, tomatoes at the ready, and you still have a huge readership of thoughtful, intelligent people DESPITE the fact that you aren't 350 miles from home with three young children and one very absent husband (cooking on an Aga, spending a suspiciously large amount of time on the computer or earning oodles of cash.) HOW DARE YOU BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY TOO???

thats whats really stuck up her ass, you know. how DARE you!
Blimey , you know you have made it when you get insulted by a 'celebrity' blogger . Well done Madam
Betty, you're my favourite blogger ever.

Judith O'Whatsherface can fuck right off.
I like reading your blog, the only thing wrong with it is that you don't post often enough.

I've seen the O'Reilly book, but have no desire to read the book or blog, I don't think I would find it interesting.

I started a blog purely because I wanted to make comments on other blogs and felt I should put myself up for retaliation, but after a couple of months I just couldn't be bothered. I don't want to write a blog of me, I want to listen to other people talk, or have conversations with them.
I particularly want to read snippets, random thoughts, not a coherent story arc.

I don't want to read a self-edited story blog of anyone else either. I want to put them together from the jigsaw pieces they scatter.

Love your blog Betty x
The sad thing is (and I mean sad as in unbelievably big-headed and pathetic) is that she must have googled herself/her blog/anything with the words 'Judith' or 'North' or 'Wife' in the title to find those blogpieces about herself. God I wish she would just shut up and put that big foot in her mouth where it belongs. She is the blogging equivalent of Heather McCartney. I can't believe she itemised exactly how much she raised for charity on her blog last week. They will be forced to move to an even bigger house soon just so she can fit her head in the door! No dount the Daily Mail will do a double page spread on it when the time comes.
"You will no doubt be inundated with comments today, following today's article in The Times."

Third comment, first post, November 2006.
Bloody Hell, I blog because I enjoy it, I had not realized what I was getting into!
I'm with spins on Judith Whatersface. They even put it on the radio, twas bollocks
Tom - yes, she does seem to have a long career in journalism and TV. I'm not sure if that always gives you a huge ego. Maybe she's being so boastful as a form of self defence?

Malc - thing is, because she received so much attention, people who don't know anything about blogging will assume that it's really easy to get published if you have a blog, without knowing that her connections and promotion helped her to get her foot in the door. You could be right about her not singling me out - it's just that I seem to remember a Google visit from someone looking for Wife In The North/Judith O'Reilly at around that time. The visitor stayed for a few minutes. Besides which, someone in the comments sections said something about her being "shaggable" (something she mentioned people commenting on), and one or two tongue in cheek things were said there. I mean, I wouldn't mind being described as "shaggable", particularly when you consider some of the downright spiteful stuff that's written about people on the internet. When you're in the public eye, these things tend to happen. I should imagine much worse has been said about Girl With A One Track Mind, who, after all, started out as an anonymous writer and ended up being "outed" - by a Times writer, if I remember correctly! Anyway, I've not really read any of the other internet stuff written about Wife In The North, apart from a couple of posts on Quinquireme. All of the stuff about "penpals" and the advice to "write your own book" seemed particularly mean spirited to bloggers/commenters in general though.

FN - well, exactly. I have to say that I've STILL not got around to reading her blog beyond a quick scan over a recent post, in which the chairman at a fundraising lunch was terrified of her and thought that she would be "like granite", because, she assumed, he'd read the ranting post that I'd linked to! Doesn't take much to upset people in such a genteel community, does it? A couple of swear words and you're suddenly Roseanne Barr! Anyway FN... your own life story could run to several volumes and it would RULE and you are a fuck of a good writer.

Beast - well, as Malc said, she may not just have been singling out me, but I've tried to stand up for the "little man" like Norman Wisdom anyway!

Spinsterella - oh thanks duck *blushes furiously*. I wish there were more gobby, er, "granite" bloggers like your good self about these days.

Bellulah - oh, thanks. I know what you mean, the random bits of blogs and the lack of a coherent narrative are part of the appeal. I love the comments sections on blogs and the way they go off at tangents. I'm not someone who posts a lot because I get ideas in fits and starts. Of late I've not been commenting much and should really make more of an effort. I always liked your blog (I know I'm getting very luvvie duvvie at the moment but I honestly have a high regard for a lot of bloggers ... and I've got too much caffeine coursing through my bloodstream).

RoMo - I suppose the temptation to Google yourself is there is you're in the public eye. Problem is, you'll no doubt end up regretting it. The things said about celebs on the internet ... people on forums and gossip sites are merciless! If you're a supposed blogger who happened to get a book deal within a short time of starting your blog, not only are you in the public eye, you're going to cause people on the internet to be suspicious, so gawd help you. Still, she doesn't seem to be the type to be bothered by public opinion, hem hem, despite the "sweet little innocent in the big bad North" persona she seemed to adopt on that Richard And Judy interview.

Geoff - exactly. Say no more.

LOM - well, I enjoy blogging but there are some slings and arrows out there every so often. Generally, it's fairly positive and people shouldn't have to have soul searching thoughts about "why" they blog.

Readoc - she has apparently sold a lot of books. It doesn't seem to have made it to either of the bookshops in Bexleyheath, but maybe that's because we're philistines out here!
she's good at saying 'fuck' though isn't she?
probably not much good at doing it though - she sounds a tad uptight.
It had to happen. . .


And let's not forget that some people's blogs are not based entirely on one tenuous part of one's life (EG moving out of zone four). SOME people's blogs are just about LIFE FULL STOP. And aren't meant to be fascinating and witty insights in day-to-day developments.

Just, like, a place to banter, innit?

And, also, isn't lording over people about a book deal a trifle vulgar...?
Ziggi - oof! I can't really comment, what with all the swearing I do on here, or in real life.

Malc - doesn't Wife In The North link to that blog? She doesn't mind, er, gentle ribbing, provided you're not too rude about her ...

Boz - I'm sure that most bloggers don't start out with an agenda or an angle about what to write. I mean, if I was to worry about the "theme" of this blog, I would've never got past the first couple of posts (any old shit that comes into my mind is probably the only theme running through it actually). As for lording over people about your book deal, well, Judith goes beyond being vulgar because she's so great. She's the outrageous high priestess of punk rock (as they used to say about Siouxsie Sioux in the tabloids in the 1970's). Go, Judith, you foul mouthed vixen you!
in my head, judith o'reilly is interchangeable with gloria hunniford/anthea turner/barbara cartland. i can't imagine her sitting there in her cashmere sweater furiously typing "fuck" into her blogger account over a gin and slime - perhaps she got a lackey (plenty of them about - it is the *north*, after all, darling) to do it for her.

stupid bint. i wish i still blogged....
um, *slim*.

see? that's why i don't have a book deal or a pony or a trust fund or a hot tub....

carry on.
Surly - I wish you still blogged too. I can't imagine Judith rattling away at a keyboard, even though the idea of her saying "fuckety fuck" every time she has to go back to edit a typo is quite appealing. Does she employ a ghost writer? Heh heh.
Middle class people shouldn't really say 'fuck' should they? Unless they're Patrick Moore, I stil fantasise about him saying, "Spotting Sirius is relatively easy, even with a rudimentary telescope, if you're living in Devon.Of course, due to the nature of increased urban pollution, something our betters in Whitehall might see fit to tackle, assuming they get the time whilst wringing their pinkies over this so-called war on terror, it's almost FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE to see the cunt in London"

Publishing is well risky these days unless you're shifting serious volume, can't blame her for being a bit worried and over-emotional really
oh, betty. i hope you can live with yourself. the old d-flat chime bar just bonged for the first time in ages...
Martin - he probably did swear and rant on The Sky At Night, but got away with it because nobody who was sober was watching. In fact, it could've been the precursor to post pub TV - which means that he's to blame for The Word or any of those channels that are devoted to phone in competitions or bingo.

SG - so you're passing the bong round?
I quite fancy Bonnie Langford in that photo. Which feels a bit wrong.

My only thought is that i hate the word "Blog". Ugly. Awful. A "livejournal" sounds lame, too. I dunno what we should call these things. I just hade the word "Blog".
I'm a blogger and a writer, but I like to keep the 2 things separate. I wouldn't put my serious work on a blog and I wouldn't create a book or article from my blog. Horses for courses.
Del - I've never really liked the word blog but it's been around for so long that I've got used to it. I suppose bloggers are tethered to that word now. Facebook or MySpace are stupid amalgamations of words too.

Llewtrah - well, exactly. There are only a few blogs that could become books, so it seems wrong to criticise bloggers who aren't "capable" of getting a publishing deal.
Wife In The North? You've got to laugh, haven't you? No, really - she takes herself SO seriously and is SO self-congratulatory, it's hilarious.
Anyway, this whole "blogging is an inferior written form" argument presupposes that there is no such thing as a badly written book, which is clearly nonsense.
Marsha - yeah, there seems to be an opinion that bloggers are on a "journey" that will either result in a book deal or won't. If they don't get a book deal then apparently they're a failure. Besides which, the world is overrun with badly written books, or uninspiring books - is that the ultimate goal of bloggers, to fill the shelves with even more awful books?
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