Tuesday, October 04, 2005

My Brother Made Me Do It

This is a post to a blog about a newspaper column which appears in today’s Daily Record which is all about blogs and blogging and bloggers.

I know; my head hurts too and not just because of the after effects of God knows how many bottles (and a pint?) of Stella on Saturday afternoon/evening/night.

About a year ago, my brother Stuart – a fabulously talented teacher who does amazing things with the internet which I only pretend to understand – sat me down and said to me earnestly, “Neil, if you want to be a writer, you really should get yourself a blog.” I could tell he was trying to bamboozle me with his hip techno-speak but I resisted my initial urge to deliver a swift right hook across his chin – an inalienable right of elder brothers everywhere when talking to a younger and smarter sibling.

“Tell me more,” I said through gritted teeth, trying hard to forget that this was the brother who discovered Paul Weller and Elvis Costello whilst I was learning the chords to the latest Status Quo classic. (If you’re under 25 years old and don’t have a clue who I’m talking about, think Franz Ferdinand versus... em... Status Quo?)

It turns out that “blog” is shorthand for weblog, a growing phenomenon on the internet whereby writers create their own webpage or on-line journal and document anything and everything that takes their fancy. Very few of these wordsmiths, or “bloggers” to use the correct terminology, are professional writers but instead, are just ordinary people with something to say. Their numbers are certainly growing. Recent reports estimate that in the past year alone the number of bloggers in the UK has doubled to almost 2.5 million.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Blogger. Sounds a bit like trainspotter. People – men mainly – with too much time on their hands and no-one to talk to who rarely get out in the fresh air because they’re cooped up all day chatting on-line about gigabytes and downloads. Sure, there are lots of blogs ranting on about ordinary things like cats or cars or computers but the blogging community also contains a wealth of insightful, informative and humourous writing.

In the days following the recent bombings in London, some of the most dramatic and honest accounts could be found on the blogs of ordinary commuters who experienced the ordeal first hand. One of the most famous blogs, www.dooce.com, attracts over 55,000 readers a day and is a straightforward, but brilliantly observed narrative about what it’s like to be a mother for the first time.

And the good news for parents is that a large percentage of blogs are written by their children seeking an outlet for their creativity and inspiration. Imagine that; kids reading and writing in their spare time. Voluntarily.

So I’m here to tell you that bloggers are people too. I know this for a fact because on Saturday I met up with a crowd of them in a bar in Glasgow’s Merchant City (see how trendy we are?) and boy can these people socialise.

Rarely have I met a group of more outgoing, articulate and funny people and eight hours went by in a flash, fuelled, admittedly, with a fair amount of cold beer and red wine. Topics of discussion were many and varied and even the Doctor Who debate centred mainly on the attributes of Billie Piper rather than the technical specifications of the Tardis. Oh and before you assume it was a boys only club, half of the gathering was made up of women; the real flesh and blood kind too.

So Stuart thanks very much for educating me on the whole blog thingy (and Paul Weller) and I’m glad I didn’t punch you out. This time. I know you’re a web genius who is available for all manner of freelance internet work and if I find a way to advertise your talents in a more public medium I’ll let you know. Meantime, check out www.scottishblogs.co.uk for a selection of cracking reads.


At 4/10/05 12:51 pm, Blogger Stuart Sutherland said...

Hey Neil,

Thanks for the kind words. Best press I ever did get. Now everybody I went to school with and who reads your column (how many folks is that?) will realise at last what a genius I actually always was ;-) And the freelance offers will come flying in.

At this rate, in 20 years time, you'll finally admit that Franz Ferdinand ARE better than Coldplay.

And get you with all your new pals in a pub in Glasgow!

P.S. New FF album is cool. I'll do you a copy.

At 4/10/05 2:57 pm, Blogger Gordon said...

I'm sorry, Status who??

(quickly turns off Joni Mitchell who has snuck onto my iTunes...)

Nice write up, although i have a vague memory of you wanting something from me for this but I guess it's too late and I don't remember and I bet you don't either anyway.. anyway...

At 5/10/05 9:06 am, Blogger Gunnella said...


At 5/10/05 2:27 pm, Blogger svetlana said...

hey neil- you'd make a good mona lisa with fluffy bits at the back.

At 5/10/05 8:18 pm, Blogger DC said...


You blogger dudes are human shocker!

Bet your nose was out of joint when the folkies started up - what's all the precious crap about not talking/shouting/swearing/fighting/getting really drunk during a performance( and that's just the band )- your in a pub for God's
sake! What next - no smoking - no more than 3 drinks each per visit?

Anyway- you could've shown off your folk talents as you do have:

- a finger

- an ear

- a big woolie jumper

- a big woolie beard

- experience of living in a very remote (almost) Scottish Island with no trees

- a very Scottish name( Soapy !)

- a talent for writing songs about being far away from home but missing it, realising that for all your " World Traveller" credentials you can take the boy out of Bishopbriggs/ Falkirk etc.

Seems like your experience at BB's was better than at The Bloggies in March.In 1987 I met up with Shug O'Hanlon in said estblishment - not knowing the place I asked him what it was like " Full of Glasgow Herald readers" was his reply. I can't quite explain it but he was spot-on - no shock really about Folk Night.

Best ever folk experience was in a pub in Plockton - children allowed in the bar( with a blind eye paid to the sneeky wee ciders ) , dogs lying about the floor, too much to drink, musicians in the corner belting it out, locals & tourists mixing , inviting Dutch people back to our place for more drinks/ chat/singing/ calling them German before passing out...


At 5/10/05 10:12 pm, Blogger Neil said...

Stuart - Will give FF a tray but not promising anything.

Gordon - I think I was looking for the Sunday Times article but then again...

Gunella - *smirk*

Svetlana - Fluffy bits? Was my little rabbity bobtail showing out the back of my jeans on Saturday?

Donald - Glasgow Herald readers is a very good description but no bad thing. I WAS smoking - shock!

At 14/10/05 5:06 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does DC have his own blog or is yours his surrogate blog? He definitely is...entertaining...and I like the way he always brings you back down to earth if he thinks you´re getting too big for your tackies...


Ps my word to verify was ujehs...UUU Jehssss!

At 14/10/05 7:09 pm, Blogger Neil said...

DC have his own blog??? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! He probably has his teenage daughters wheel him into the room where the computer resides and then gets them to read stuff out to him. They then take his uninteligible mumblings and type them up into the entertaining observations.


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