Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Present: One Small Blog For Me, One Giant Blog With Everyone Else

It’s coming to the end of October 17th, and I’ve drawn my diary entry together. What’ll they make of it in a hundred years? Written mostly in free flow… After seeing the ‘History Matters: Pass it on’ mass blog mentioned by Welsh Assembly Member Peter Black this morning, I’ve been looking for historical connections all over the place. Well, I say all over; I didn’t get out much today, so most of the history I encountered was of the personal kind. Next week, it’ll be Richard and my twelfth anniversary, and I spent some time online looking for more presents. Twelve years ago I’d not discovered the internet, and could barely type (today only a sore arm is slowing me down). There wasn’t a Welsh Assembly, and I’d never heard of blogging. I was rather more healthy, and probably around two-thirds my current bodymass. We were in the tired last years of a nasty, failed, illiberal government that I’d never voted for; well, not everything changes. And being without Richard is now a bizarrely alien concept. More than anything else, most of my conversations now revolve as much around ‘we’ as ‘I’, and, well, with Richard I’m in love and happy.

There are other things in life, though. I wasn’t even four years old when I first saw a terrific little Doctor Who story called The Sontaran Experiment, which (before videos) I loved to replay in my nightmares. By twelve years ago, both Richard had it on tape. This morning, after the waking-up ritual of shouting at the Today programme, we finished watching the newly-released DVD of this story. A ‘budget’ release with few extras, that still means subtitles, production notes, commentary, documentary and photo gallery; with the VHS it was just murky picture and sound. I love this tale’s sense of ‘future history’, an aside to great events implied elsewhere – the Earth’s a wasteland, the most important place in the Universe to sleeping survivors, an irrelevant legend to others. It’s 15,000AD, and everyone still argues about land. The cast look back to 1975 and remember the lead actor breaking his collarbone, so I feel a bit guilty complaining about my arm, but still visit my real doctor; by mid-morning it’s medical history instead. This year’s innovation: after consultation, booking your own hospital appointment. Better for getting the time you want, worse for having to navigate all the bureaucracy.

Back home, I put chapters into a home-made DVD of Saturday’s Robin Hood, an 800-year-old story with modern production and modern politics. Well, if modern politicians decide to dodge the rule of law by creating Guantánamo ‘outlaws’, they can hardly blame the Twelfth Century for satirising them. Last week my Dad discussed a family tale that we’re descended from another outlaw, Rob Roy; neither of us believe it. There might be MacGregors in our colourful history (Scotland, America, Yorkshire), but we only know for sure about the MacParlanes / MacParlands, so today I check online to see just how unattractive the tartan I’m entitled to wear is. Hmm. Not in a hurry.

I type a couple of blog pieces for Love and Liberty, backwards and forwards into history (my interest in the subject, forthcoming TV speculation), then give in to temptation and order the new Heaven 17 album. Ten years since their last, Bigger Than America, seem to have passed very quickly. I pop it on. ‘Designing Heaven’ and ‘We Blame Love’ are still fantastic singles, and I was still the only person on Earth who bought them. Then Richard gets home from work, I cook, and we watch two episodes of The West Wing back-to-back on DVD. We’re into the final season of this US political drama, and though we thought it had slowed down for a few years, suddenly we’re back to being desperate to find out what happens next. And unlike real history, we can rush the pace.

This wasn’t as happy an experience as I’d anticipated. Forewarned by Peter saying his entry had been rejected, I kept mine to within 4000 characters (and including spaces). It was rejected as invalid. I checked everything was correct, and resubmitted it. Same again. I shaved a bit more out of the text, and cleared my cookies, and reloaded the page. No joy. Each time, the page wipes everything, gives bright red instructions that I’ve already followed precisely, but doesn’t say which bit is read as ‘wrong’. An hour later (I first sent at 11.40), still at 3718 characters (this’ll have changed slightly for the above version and its urls), very tired and exceedingly frustrated, I’ve lost count of my attempts and have sent it by e-mail instead. But resisted the temptation to add ‘and your sodding web page doesn’t accept entries its instructions say are valid’ as an addendum to the diary entry sent to them. At this stage, I realise I failed to mention the large and chocolatey muffins I bought after visiting the doctor. In serious need of chocolate, I lunge for the surviving one now…

Past: History Matters
Future: Torchwood

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