June 2022

A decade ago, I posted the above placeholder onto the webpage of my newly acquired domain www.theericle.com. To be brutally honest, I had no real ambitions for The Ericle beyond it possibly becoming an e-substitute for the autobiography that I knew I was never likely to write. At the time, I was doing what I had done for most of my life – taking an active interest in the world around me, which in many cases involved being an adopter of the zeitgeist; in some cases, an early one. In 2012, blog-writing seemed to me that to be something that I wanted to stick my toe into and see where it took me. 

From the off, one thing that I was clear about was that I would only write something when the mood took me and when I felt I had something to say. I believe that I have stuck to my brief though, looking back on it now, I am somewhat surprised at the some of the areas where The Ericle has taken me.

I had not expected The Ericle to be so involved in politics. Those of you that know me well will be thinking that, given my intense interest in the subject, I must have been naive to believe that wouldn’t be the case and I’m sure that you are right. However, my wish to produce a politics-lite blog was sincere on the basis that politics and harmony are not great bedfellows and, though I didn’t want to produce a vanilla pod, I really wanted The Ericle not to be a overly contentious environment. I still think that it isn’t but The Ericle certainly entered the political fray, and was not been unscathed as a result. My decision to endorse Brexit certainly invited an almost universal wrath not only from my Readers but from my immediate social circle. It was a salutary experience at many levels, not from the perspective of regretting my views of the time, but from experiencing what it is like to be ‘the only Gay in the village’. (Xref: Little Britain)

I’ve also discovered many things about myself by writing The Ericle. I immensely enjoy writing for a start. Also that I am ridiculously optimistic to the point of naivety. Thinking about it, perhaps ‘optimistic’ is not quite the right word – what, perhaps, I should be saying is that I am ridiculously ‘optimistic that my views will come to be realised’. I’ve also learnt that whereas venting verbally is RAM – the conversation ends, the machine disconnects and what’s left behind is in the ether – committing to the written word is ROM; it’s on the hard drive, date-stamped and a matter on the record. Consequently my Esteemed Reader naturally will regard my musings as akin to being an Ericle manifesto. Thus, allowing for the human condition, my ambition that The Ericle would be a forum of harmony was always going to be under challenge from the off. So when I went to see Jeremy Corbyn on the Labour leadership hustings, and saw a politician untainted by Westminster galvanising a mainly youthful audience, I reached what seemed a reasonable conclusion that JC would be the Second Coming; a man of the people who, when elected leader, would take care of the tribe. Corbyn’s reversion to type, made a lie of Labour’s 2017 election slogan and a fool out of me. Despite my reverse squirrelling, for many of my esteemed readers I remain a Corbynista for ever more!

Blog writing and advertising, I can see now, marches to a similar tune. As a scribbler of marketing materials it was a continual source of disappointment that little of what I wrote would actually be read and that, in terms of recollection, the headline and the imagery are kings. I may approach every word as if I am carving them onto an electronic stone, but there is no obligation on the reader to read all or any of what I write. A consequence of this, I think, is nuance, which is one of the hardest things to get across on any dimension, is extremely difficult; even more so in a world that is getting always noisier. I really do think that we all need to work a lot harder to afford our fellow travellers some oxygen in this area. We have a tendency as individuals and as Society to be over-quick to attach labels to people. Never a good idea and in these, complex and complicated, times even less so.

This notion that our fertile minds seek simple answers to complex questions is at the heart of The Coming Storm; an excellent podcast (available here) that I have recently listened to. This looks into how and why various ideas became beliefs within sections of  contemporary USA and how these ideas played a decisive role in the outcomes of the 2016 & 2020 presidential elections. In many respects, the podcast mirrors my own espousal of the internet and adoption of the blog-milieu. I remember quite vividly my excitement when, in 1995, I first listened to the squawks of a modem as it connected me via Netscape Navigator to the worldwide web. So began a journey fuelled by optimistic notions of a universal democracy driven by the prospect of global connectivity. Was this a misplaced dream that has become a self-destructive nightmare? In The Coming Storm, reference is made to a quote from a book written in the final year of the last century called The Sovereign Individual (see here):

The Internet will liberate information from the bounds of reality. In the future you will see any story you wish, true or false, unfold on your computer with greater verisimilitude than anything that NBC or the BBC can now muster … (which will create) an epidemic of disorientation that will fragment society and eventually lead to the death of democracy as we know it.

I could never subscribe to this blackest of views. This notwithstanding, clearly our notions of democracy and sanity are currently being severely challenged. However, I don’t think that this is a predicament that is particular to today. The internet clearly reflects and effects, at warp speed, the global village that our world has become; but the human condition is unchangeable. The choices we have to make are always the same and are to be made within the dialectic of self v others. The more individuals orientate towards our mutual interdependency, the more harmonious the world becomes. One of The Ericle’s oft-repeated dictums is that ‘we get the government that we deserve’. On this my 10th anniversary, I’d like to amend this to:

We get the world that we deserve.

My experiences over the last decade have led me to write about many things; general topics and matters that are personal to me including my bouts with mental illness, my (unrelated) antipathy for Donald Trump, about Fulham Football Club, about Covid and about cycling. I am serious about what I’ve been writing but I trust that some humour has come through as well. I trust that my pieces have not been writtten ‘for the gallery’ but also hope that I have not overly caused offence – unlike Google, which was launched with the motto ‘Don’t Be Evil’, (though Google proclaim that they did no such thing) but many proclaim that should read ‘Don’t Fight Evil’! True or otherwise, this transmogrification reflects the very human experience of journeys started with good intentions but which are found out to be ones taken on a road to hell. In 2018, Google issued this clarification: “Don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up!” I’d like to think that The Ericle is written in this spirit.

So what has a decade of blog writing taught this keyboard warrior? Ultimately, that one writes a blog for oneself and if someone else chooses to read anything within it, that is a bonus. If that is you: Thank You Very Much Indeed.

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1 Response to June 2022

  1. Joel Kaufman says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this artful and honest reflection; and your decade-long commitment to this is certainly worthy of acknowledgement. And so to your last sentence I say, it’s been my pleasure. (I shall in turn be sharing this piece with my close Nashvillian friends).

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