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Saturday, 15 March 2008

Dear Spinny...

Dear Spinny,

How's you, chuck - alright? (No, that's not right at all..)

Yo, Spinster,


Dearest Spinsterella,

(..*way* too formal...)

You see how easy it is to start writing a letter to someone you've never even met and with whom all your prior communication has been conducted within the hurly burly of the Blogger comment box scene? - well, it's not exactly a garden party, is it? No first names - well, no *real* first names, for the most part, not even a visual tic to latch onto in most cases (although, I suppose "Curly", or "Permo-features" or something equally juvenile might have passed muster for the Spinster, from what little was given away about her looks.) But then, like so much else in this cyber realm, even those details - the tight perm, the petiteness (blimey, even the Norn Irishness, for heaven's sake) - may even have been a part of the fiction, the fabrication, the fabulation that was Spinsterella.

It was very touching reading the comments on your last post - sadly, now all that is visible of your long-running and wonderfully entertaining blog. It's like a sort of smaller scale, low-key, understated blogworld re-enactment of the funeral of Rudi Valentino - there's much blubbing, despair and people are distraught and perhaps a little hysterical, but at the same time, everyone knows you and the form well enough to realise that trying to leap on top of the casket and get lowered into the sod with you is probably not what you'd have wanted - not the done thing. I make big claims for the power of things like blogging and Myspace and that to transform our lives in a more positive way than the mainstream media can, but I'm beginning to realise that it's the smaller, less grandstanding moments like your valedictory comments box that make my case for me most eloquently.

I'll try to stop this getting all Frank Capra very soon, Spinster - I know you wouldn't want an overblown valediction - but I have to say that I owe you an apology, so I may as well get that out of the way whilst the schmaltz is still in full flow. I commented quite flippantly somewhere nearer the time of your 'last post' - probably on Timster's bit - that you appeared to have 'snuffed it'. Not nice - I hold my hands up. If I'd actually made the effort to investigate further the choice of song you'd made to be your 'swansong' (a wonderful one, naturally!) I'm sure I would have been as lump-throated as all the other mourners back then; heck, I might even have been there, best fishnets on, trying to muscle past the line of cops trying to hold back the screaming hordes and fling myself down there in that hole to be with you in your final place of rest. But I didn't. Until yesterday. So here's a belated thank you - not just for using the song I wrote thanks to your inspiration, but for the beautiful character and world you created. The lump was late coming, but it finally made the throat. Better late than never - although, with all this funereal imagery, maybe I shouldn't use the word late so lightly anymore.

This is where I'll probably lose any of the brief respect I might conceivably have gleaned from any of your many female admirers who might be reading this (well - *google*...), but you see, I always thought there was a bit more calculation - no, maybe not calculation, that has unpleasant connotations that I don't intend - maybe *remove* is better? Yes remove is what you had, I think, in the way you approached the blogging thing. I'm not for one moment saying that there couldn't have been or wasn't a huge amount of truth in what you wrote - it was too well observed, too rich with those unblagable sorts of details not to be based in large part on the very real experiences of a wee lassie from Norn Iron. But I sensed from quite early on the most delicate of inverted commas around the whole thing - the idea that, at some level, the blog itself was actually of more import than the experiences being relayed through it. I can't back this up, it's just an intuition, but by way of support for that outrageous claim, all I have to offer is this thought: I feel that maybe if it had been just an "I did this and then I did that and then he came round and we did the other" type of narrative, you would probably still be doing it (....the blogging that is, not the other - although...).

I know that sounds an awfully up myself suggestion to make - that only artists can care enough about blogs to give them up when they feel they can't do them justice - as if every blogger doesn't have rival committments to their blog, even if they see themselves as pursuing no more than a hobby. But if you look at it through the various perversions that might be vaguely assembled to form "my point of view", then it does make sense and isn't such an uncharacteristically elitist position for me to take.

You see I think blogs *do* make artists of us, whether we like it or not. Just the selection of subject matter is an *artistic* one, isn't it? Indeed - whether to write anything at *all*. These are, at least, *creative* choices, I would say. Then there's the style; we all acquire our own voice, the way we write is an extension of us, isn't it? And isn't that, really all art is? An extension of *us*, by other means? And, perhaps most crucially, you have an *audience*. So, blogs and such like *do* empower us, I think; they allow us to choose how we will interact with the world. We can create our own space - invite people we like there, refuse entry to those we don't, say pretty much what we like, when we like, and be fairly sure that at least *someone*, somewhere on the globe will read what we have to say.

It just happens that, as with novelists, some bloggers are so good at their art that they allow us to forget that what we're reading is not simply an electronic diary that they've been good enough to share with us and the rest of the world, but an edited selection, the end result of choices and word quibbles and wragglings as to what and whether one should do, how far one can go...these sorts of thoughts (please do correct me if I'm wrong and you don't do any of this and I'll give your blog a very wide berth) go through the minds of everyone who blogs, don't they? It's just that not many of us are good enough to elicit the Valentino response when the efforts of conjuring up this seemingly effortless magic everyday begin to become too much for the liver of the life.

So I'm pleased in a way that I resisted the impulse of the other mourners to gnash and wail at your demise. Maybe I knew, deep down, as a fellow inhabiter of those arch inverted comments that it wasn't as if someone had actually *died*. No, this was a far more everyday sadness - like that feeling you get when you turn the page of a book you've loved reading, and realise that you've come to the end.

Thank you Spinster, and may life always be kind to you.

L.U.V. on y'all,





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