Saturday, September 12, 2009

Once only!

Any reader, aware of Malcolm's prejudices, may take fright from this image (the one below: not the metaphor to the right!):
When Malcolm was slapped on the back by one of the few who know his real persona, he was confused:
  • not by his position (number 94, for heaven's sake!), but by being there at all;
  • in any event, by position 94, there couldn't be many alternatives available;
  • a quick scrute of some of the preceding 93 makes Malcolm speculate on how banal, how badly written, how inconsequential those doomed to position 95 and below must be.
To clarify:
  • Dale's Total Politics (financed, apparently, by "Lord" Ashcroft) is no such thing. Based on the couple of issues that Malcolm has flicked through, it seems to be substantially politics as the cult-of-personality. Malcolm found its worse efforts brash and trivial: as remote from The Speccie or New Statesman -- let alone Political Analysis, -- as Hello! is from the DNB.
  • Total Politics went about these blog listings as a cynical marketing operation. There seemed to be some kind of pre-registration: to be considered a blog required registering. Neither of Malcolm's blogs was. Then each blogger was urged to drum up support by publicising the competition, and thereby Total Politics, to its readerships. Again, Malcolm didn't.
All of which is fair enough. No complaints there.

Some conclusions, however:
  • Malcolm Redfellow started three years back as a knee-jerk to retired unemployment. Its original incarnation was reflection on things Anglo-Irish: an English-born, Dublin-educated ranter who had married into Ulster Unionism. Beyond that there were two other idealistic "givens": egalitarian republicanism and blood-and-guts socialism.
  • Malcolm Redfellow revivus evolved into two separate blogs: this World Service (on Blogger) and Home Service (on Wordpress). That was mainly because Malcolm was having problems with Blogger (its editing facility -- especially with the automatic save -- has since considerably improved) and fancied a go at Wordpress.
  • At one stage, Malcolm imagined that the World Service would be more reflective and literary, while the Home Service would be gossipy and polemic. It hasn't worked out that way, though the Home Service more obviously meets Iain Dale's idea of a "Labour" site (and seems to have better "stat-porn" than the cited World Service). In all reason, the two should be recombined as a single on-going stream-of-consciousness.
  • When he makes the effort, Malcolm hopes some of the writing on Malcolm Redfellow is, at least, worthy (it's those semi-colons, you know). At its best, it gives satisfaction to its author and even to a small circle of web-friends. Whenever sheer despair takes over, and the act of sitting down and composing becomes a chore, his alter-ego considers Malcolm's self-elimination. Then a new burst takes over. It's like Malcolm's annual reading-block cycle: over-indulgence, lassitude, a course of tranquillisers (such as the recent frolic through Lindsey Davis's Falco series), and back on the treadmill.
  • Malcolm notices that the balance of his maunderings changes over time. It has become less "political" (and, certainly, less partisan), more based on reading and travel. There always has been a thread of history in the mix, especially Malcolm's interests in the nooks-and-corners of malfeasance and mayhem, modern and medieval.
  • Finally, there is the schizoid nature of "Malcolm". He is a construct, albeit a fairly transparent one: several correspondents have proudly identified the onlie true begetter. Nich Starling, that estimable Norfolk Blogger, recently declared:
For me there is nothing like the dishonesty of a pseudonym.
Which is a valid point. On the other hand, a lot depends on the purpose of the blog. Starling is still an active politician: he briefly considered (and blogged it) throwing his hat in the ring for the LibDem nomination in Norwich North. Obviously he works in an understanding school: the English-teacher in Malcolm had to be meticulous, even confessional, in separating his ideology from his lit. crit. Nich, though, is explicitly a partisan blogger: with that, as with Iain Dale, goes an element of self-promotion. Malcolm and the reality behind him would see that as a constraint on a symbiotic partnership, wherein each can challenge the other's prejudices.
That's enough navel-gazing for one session. Normal service is resumed. Sphere: Related Content

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