Dear reader. Dear gentle reader - and, for once, I'm being factual and precise here in using the singular, can even give that reader a name, so fabulously have I pursued my quest to alienate you all - read on, dear reader just a little further. We're almost there, have almost reached the end, Dave - you don't mind if I call you Dave, do you? Dear Sancho Panza to my Don Quixote, Dave. Dave and Bob may not have quite the same ring, but there you go. What does? It's the credit crunch, perhaps? Nothing holds its value anymore, does it? Everything gets squeezed, squashed, shrunk - 'downsized'. Whatever it is that's happening, it's not sparing the language. It's some kind of word crunch that's pinching bloggers into tweeters, perhaps. Like the economy, we just can't stretch to it anymore can we? The longer piece. It's just too costly, too dear. We run a deficit of words; so pare it down, bring on the cuts, the slash and burn. We haven't got enough to spare or spend, it seems - have we? The time, that is. Reserves of that are running low, just like everything else. This is a little bit embarrassing actually, but...um...we're a little bit short at the moment, actually; of time and patience, of effort and thought. Look, I'll keep this brief; can you come back next week?
And so - and here's an irony of the language - as the economy has shrunk, economy of words has duly become the dominant style. The tweet, for instance - can you get more economical than that? Not outside the haiku. You could be forgiven the thought that the blog has had its say already; too vast and epic in scope, those paragraphs just seem to go on and on and on, don't they? There's just too much of them, too much...character. Or too many characters. And so we flee from the forest of words. If you don't believe me, just roll your gaze up and down the blog list a little further down at the side of this page. So many of the old stalwarts have fled their homes it seems - reading up from the bottom, back up through the mists of time and the rolling tumbleweeds; Istvanski (last post four months ago), Billy (last post four months ago) Ro-mo (last post one month ago) Dick Headley (last post five weeks ago), Betty (last post 3 week's ago), Photon (last post 2 weeks ago)... Perhaps it's just a go-slow, a work-to-rule. Or maybe they're just battoning down the hatches, riding out the storm; laying low until the good times return. Perhaps. But many of them, I'm sure, like so many around the globe, are ekeing out their words. Parsimonious of parse and tweet; their blogs now just too unwieldy, too sprawling. Couldn't afford the upkeep any longer. Too high maintenance, they've abandoned their old country seats, downsized, moved out to the margins to see the hard times out. Hoarding their words like misers in those smart little one ups-two downs, the little bijous that are springing up all over the shop; low maintenance, cheap and cheerful, no hassle. Small perhaps, but with plenty of character - well, 140 of them, to be exact.
But Dave - (you are still there Dave, I trust...*you* haven't deserted me too, have you?) - there's still a little way for us to go too. This is not another 'retirement' - not just yet, anyway. No, just a pause for thought; a reminder. Another downpayment on the old pile. But maybe a countdown, of sorts...