Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Now we are six

January 29, 2016

Nearly six

I don’t know what the average life expectancy of any new blog is, but six years is presumably above the average. Today is the sixth birthday of this one. If you’re still reading, thank you. During that time, I hope that I have become at least an older writer, if not a better one.

Most of the people who visit this blog, I suspect, are not regulars. An inspection of the stats kindly provided by WordPress shows that a large amount of the traffic comes from search engines, and that the most common search terms over the years by some considerable margin have been ‘river phoenix’ (2,840 referrals), ‘maltesers’ (2,279) and ‘questions about reading’ (1,336). The first two are explicable by there being pictures of them on this blog that appear high up in Google Image Search results. The third relates to a questionnaire about reading habits that I stole from somewhere else.

The further down the list one goes, as you might expect, the more specific and abstruse the search terms become. Hence the following:

timm thaler (222)
sunken eyes (166)
bella emberg (146)
football in the groin (45)
sputnik sweetheart (45)
salmon gutter (29)
sunken forehead (25)
you have selected regicide (23)
angular nose (19)
boys transformed into girls (17)
bob holness (15)
cooked cabbage (15)
le grand meaulnes (15)
trouble house halt (14)
captain feathersword (13)
the gashlycrumb tinies (12)
lily of the valley (10)
river fenix (10)
givenchy aftershave (9)
sex farm for sex hookers (9)
lady agatha d’ascoyne (8)
threesomes (7)
bear cub (7)
squirrel shitting (7)
ret woren ok spoz on natt ut vett (7)

Why the squirrel, I wonder; but in fact I think I’d rather not know. There are jewels, though, even among the dregs.

gay boys blackadder (3)
handy hock german (3)
john virgo wiki (3)
jenny agutter in the house of whipcord (3)
i keep telling you we just grow sorghum here (2)
is hyperion a good cd label (2)
valediction of choristers (2)
little paris chat (2)
the simpsons when home simpsons gets in the bath and then when bart simpsons backs a chair on him video (2)
film set in australia about a girl and her brother who are lost after their father commits suicide, and are helped by an aboriginal boy (2)
simpsons genitals withered and useless from tv (2)
smoke bollards the man’s cigarette (1)
bbc boi bitch (1)
on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur (1)
when would you expect a piece by claude debussy to have been composed (1)
what is the meaning of giving mugets on 1st may (1)
you must excuse my hands i’ve just been stripping a tall boy (1)
sex machine chair (1)
films where girl and boy are somewhere by themselves (1)

Six more years! And let’s make the inventory of search terms an annual event. Something to look forward to.


Liebster Award – part 4 of 4

December 9, 2013

I hope you’re following this. Mel set me some questions and now I’m answering them.

1) Why did you start blogging?

Hubris. I’ve used message boards for ten years, and found myself thinking, Wouldn’t it be nice to have a corner of the internet to call my own. What fanciful schemes I entertained in those days, imagining a new audience hanging on my every word. Sheer folly. If this blog hasn’t been a failure in every respect, I can’t pretend it’s not stagnating, this sudden spurt of daily posts notwithstanding. Of course, now I have other creative outlets. Look at World of Brine, still crawling along after a year and a bit. Really, look at it; nobody else does.

2) You’re going on an once-in-a-lifetime expedition to a far flung part of the planet. Where would you go? And what would be the one luxury item you would pack in your rucksack?

My own Wanderlust, such as it is, is vaguely approximate to that of a snail. Sometimes I feel daring enough to venture as far as the bottom of the garden, but all things considered I’d rather stay in my shell, and have you considered the likelihood of dog attack? But if there is a far-flung place I would like to visit, it is probably Japan. I’ve fallen in love with aspects of Japanese culture from watching the films of people like Yasujiro Ozu and Hirokazu Kore-eda, and I like drinking sake. I’d have to bring something appropriately Japanese with me. A book by Mishima? Too depressing. A shamisen? No, I can pick one up when I’m there. But it occurs to me that my generic MP3 player was probably assembled there, or at least made from Japanese components, and it would certainly keep me company during the journey.

3) If you lived in the same parallel universe as Lyra in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, what animal would your daemon be? Or, put another way, what settled form would you hope it would adopt, and why?

I think I’m as close to a hedgehog as one can get without actually being one. That said, I was born in the Chinese Year of the Pig – the Water Pig, to be precise. Wikipedia:

Being its natural element, those born in the year of the Water Pig are said to show the extremes of being a Pig. They can be very emotional, deep, nurturing, sympathetic, empathetic, imaginative and intuitive; however, they can also be cold, moody, jealous, sentimental, sensitive, escapistic and irrational.

So everything, then.

4) If you had the chance to step into a painting, and to spend a magical hour wandering its world, which painting would you choose? Maybe it would be Constable’s Hay Wain? Van Gogh’s Starry Night? Or, perhaps you’d like to join in with Edvard Munch’s Scream?? Or – much more light-heartedly – maybe you’d prefer to go trip-trapping over Monet’s bridge? The possibilities are endless. It’s your choice…

I haven’t thought about it in depth, but the first thing that springs to mind is Pieter Bruegel’s ‘Hunters in the Snow’. I hope that’s not too much of a cliché, but I’m sure it must be. I don’t even like snow that much, so don’t ask me to rationalise my choice.

Hunters in the Snow

5) The Doctor has invited you to time travel with him on board the Tardis. Which period in history would you most like to visit and why?

I think turn-of-the-century London. I’d hang out around Baker Street hoping for a glimpse of the great man.

6) If Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Will Shakespeare were alive today and were regular tweeters, I’d definitely be persuaded to join Twitter! Is there anyone from pre-internet days who, if they were alive today, you would love to see dazzle us daily with tweets of sheer brilliance and delight? Or are you glad they never had to suffer the tyranny of 140 characters?

I love Twitter, for what it is, but for anyone with an ambition to write proper sentences it’s hard not to see it as a corset. I suppose Hemingway would cope OK, but I doubt I’d follow him.

7) Which three books and three pieces of music would you take with you to a desert island?

Books – Middlemarch, Bleak House and Pale Fire. A good mix there. Do I get the Bible and Shakespeare too? I’d like them there. As for music, I’ve assembled annual Desert Island Discs lists meticulously for the past five years, incorrigibly pathetic specimen of humanity that I am, and the choice is impossibly difficult. But let’s choose three incontrovertible masterpieces: Purcell’s Fantasia, Z731 (I’d have the version by the David Munrow Recorder Consort), Brahms’ 3rd Symphony, and, in case I wanted to jump about a bit, this pair of jigs from James Morrison and John McKenna, recorded in New York in February 1929:

8) Out of all the species of wild animals or birds you have yet to see, which one would you most like to encounter?

A bittern (not a stuffed one).

Little Bittern

9) Which of the following would most closely correspond to your natural habitat?

a) Out on the moors with Heathcliff.

b) In the Forest with Robin Hood.

c) Out at sea with Long John Silver.

d) Cosy by the fireside with a Pickwickian gathering of genial folk, sharing a bottle of your favourite tipple.

e) The bookish calm of a country house study – in mutual retreat with Mr Bennet.

f) Striding across the meadows with Elizabeth Bennet, a healthy glow in your cheeks and mud caking your boots.

g) In the Attic with Jo from Little Women, scribbling stories and dreaming of adventure.

h) Absorbed in the life of the city streets – in the company of a fictional detective of your choice.

i) Roaming Manderley – and the windswept Cornish cliffs – with the second Mrs de Winter.

j) Wandering alongside William and Dorothy Wordsworth, pacing out poetical rhythms on the Cumbrian fells, and waxing lyrical about wild daffodils.

k) In a cave with Gollum.

l) Hey, Mel – I’m an incredibly complicated human being – a mix of all the above holds true. It depends on my mood…

m) I wouldn’t be seen dead with any of them – Bah! Humbug!

Of that lot I’d fit in best with Mr Bennet, if he could bear my company. I’d quite like the clothes too.

10) Where would you rather live and why:

Toad Hall

Bag End

Green Knowe

Little House on the Prairie

Green Gables

Kirrin Island

221B Baker Street

Well, Toad Hall excepted, the only one I really know anything about is Baker Street. Throw in the Hundred Acre Wood and we’d be in business.

11) If you had to go on a long journey with a fictional character, who would you choose? And what form of transport would you take – ship, hot air balloon, train, canal boat, motorbike, bicycle, gondola, skateboard, horse drawn gypsy caravan? Space ship?

Always the train. I’m not a trainspotter, but I love travelling by train. So a long train journey taking in lots of rural stations off the beaten track in all corners of the UK, in the company of, well, whom? There are lots of literary characters I love – Hanno Buddenbrook, Sergeant George, Charlie Brown, Piglet, Bertie Wooster – but I don’t know if they’d be good travelling companions. Racking my brains for people who are like me, I’m afraid the closest I have come is Adrian Mole. Perhaps that’s just because we both inhabit modern Britain. I desperately hope so.

Chain blog post

April 14, 2012

The Argumentative Old Git has very kindly nominated me to participate in a meme/chain letter-type thing. Well, I customarily pride myself on my adamantine resistance to chain letters, exhortations to ‘post this as ur facebook status for 1 hour’ and the like. But I can’t ignore a meme. Thank you kindly, Old Git.

It is now incumbent upon me to:

1) tell everyone something about myself that nobody else knows

2) link to a post that fits the following categories: most beautiful piece; most helpful piece; most popular piece; most underrated piece; most pride-worthy piece; most surprisingly successful piece; most controversial piece

and, finally,

3) nominate 7 other bloggers to participate

Let’s get going.

1) Hard, this. If you’ve read this blog before, you will know that writing about myself is probably my greatest preoccupation, and one from which the existence of a presumably infinite number of more fascinating subjects has seldom distracted me. But, having racked my brains, there is one thing I have not mentioned before. When I am watching television on my own and see someone being interviewed, I sometimes pause or mute the television and answer the question on their behalf. If it’s a sporting interview, I can usually be assured of providing a more interesting and/or erudite response than the interviewee. But the other week I was Sammy Davis, Jr. for a short period. A bit presumptuous for a middle-class white boy, but that’s the way I roll. My shameful secret no more. I suppose it arises from the lamentable fact that nobody is asking me questions on TV, in spite of my periodic desire for them to do so, even if it’s only about how City failed to find the net in the second half despite the two-man advantage.

2) A rather narcissistic exercise, but it will be over soon, and perhaps you would like to google some pornography afterwards to cleanse your soul.

Most beautiful piece: this is my most beautiful piece, and will remain so until such time as the YouTube video embedded in it is removed. It contains a lot of Brahms and not very much of me, and that is as it should be. Click on it and press play before continuing.

Most helpful piece: if this blog is ever helpful, it happens by accident. Certainly my intention is to misinform as much as possible. But it is nice when people come across it by chance because it provides something of particular interest to them. I think of welcome comments on my posts about the sculptor Georg Ehrlich and Eric Linklater’s novel The Wind on the Moon.

Most popular piece: 10 Beatles songs. I suspect this has been the most popular post in terms of hits because of referrals from Google Image Search. Still, some good stuff there.

Most underrated piece: a couple of pieces I am fond of, both of which refer tangentially to L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between, have been spectacularly underperused. They are Memory triggers, in which I successfully predicted that Carlos Tévez would score away at Blackpool, and A fantasy, which at a measly 5 hits is my least loved blog post. Perhaps it’s just that Hartley isn’t cool.

Most pride-worthy piece: I suppose I’m happy when I write something that rises above the mundane. There are a couple of moderately successful poetic pastiches here and here.

Most surprisingly successful piece: there was quite a lot of traffic when I wrote about the final of BBC Young Musician of the Year 2010, perhaps because so few other people appeared to be doing the same. Until last month, the day on which I posted it was the blog’s busiest one.

Most controversial piece: oh, you’ve got the wrong blog. But I imagine this would ruffle a few feathers if it got into the wrong hands.

3) Forgive me for neglecting to nominate seven other bloggers to take part. It’s not that I don’t care. But if you would like to, please follow this example. It’s been fun looking over the past couple of years and finding things I’d quite forgotten I’d written. Shalom.

i ordered the bionic woman weeks ago

November 25, 2011

Occasionally, an Amazon Marketplace seller who has hitherto fulfilled orders in an exemplary manner will suddenly stop doing so. Who knows why this happens? But all buyers have a right to reply if their goods fail to arrive, and what they write may speak volumes – though not, interestingly, about the seller. Let’s take the example of one who suddenly dropped out of the picture in summer 2009, and the feedback he received, which I split for convenience into a number of categories.





“This man is either lying dead in his bed or he is a crook. I suspect he is the latter. Thank you Amazon for refunding quickly and without problems. This guy is a rotten apple in Amazon’s fruit basket. People like him are party poopers when trying to have fun on the internet. Allas.”

“this person is so desperate for money that he or she has to fraudulently obtain people’s hard earned cash for products they do not provide. I will try to summon up the pity for he or she, very sad case in life that they obviously do not have the brain power or social skills to earn money via legal means. Sleep well you sad waste of earth space. May you return as a space bar. Loser.”


“I suspect the seller may have taken ill. Very strange.” [One mark out of five for the bastard’s immune system.]

“No sign of DVD after three weeks, nor any reply to either of two e-mails, but something disposes me to be merciful. It’s undoubtedly irritating, but it’s hardly the end of the world, and I dare say I may be able to get a refund from Amazon. Perhaps the seller has been prevented from fulfilling orders because of being struck down by swine flu, for instance. I do hope not.”

“Perhaps the seller has been physically unable to fulfill orders and reply to Emails because of severe illness, accident or worse as they had good feedback before all these negative comments.”


“No delivery of item Emailed this person… no response Do not buy from this person… I hope youre conscience speaks to you about your actions… You will have to face your maker one day and give an account of your actions… You need to repent! ”

“Is this really the kind of human being you want to be???”


“what a dip stick this geezer realy is. no replies and no dvds. why does amazon let him sell on here?”





“It was a con. Goods did arrive. No replies. Had to use Amazon Marketplace guarentee to get money back.”


“What a piece of fecal matter. same as the you guys no goods no replies to emails. Amazon you need to up your game”

“another one that they have ripped off, get rid of this excrament from amazon, no sorry, they are the smeggy bacteria that live and suck on excrament, hope you die!”


“i ordered the bionic woman weeks ago now and i am still waiting for it if you are not going to send it to me could you please refund the cash please i have waited an extra week so could you please let me know what you intend to do thankyou”

“Never received Bionic Woman DVD set. Judging by the other feedback for this seller, he’s either very sick (maybe dead) or a thief. Given a choice I”d rather have him die on me then steal from me.”


“the lowest life-form on earth .. ”


“it goes without saying but its all the better for being said, if something seems too good to be true it proberly is, as in this case, no item has been received and no acknowledgement from seller to my email, I should have read the reviews which sum this seller up”


“Is there room for one more in this boat before it sinks? Three of three items, 1 week overdue: No response. The rats have fled. Goodbye. Your time is up.”

Part of a bionic woman. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Is it possible, I wonder, to identify some correlation between spelling/literacy and anger level? I confess, I hesitate to give such trash an outlet on my blog (though, as you might justifiably point out, it hasn’t stopped me before). After all, what is more depressing about the internet than the instinct for attacking others that it evidently gives people? But perhaps we can laugh at things like this. It’s almost worth the trouble of setting up a fake Amazon account to watch these people in action.