Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Today, I was going to give you my very own recipe for spaghetti olio, aglio e peperoncino, but, my darlings, you are going to have to wait for that until tomorrow. Instead, I am going to write a little ode to the wonders of the blogosphere.
I do not wish to sound like one of those grumpy old geezers who are endlessly groaning about how everything was so much better in their day. And I hate the intellectually lazy habit of bashing the media (or the MSM, as I learn we bloggers must call it). But I have been lately struck by the almost indecent delight that the papers have been taking in The Bad News. Railing against bad news is a fast track to derision and rolling eyes; remember when poor Martin Lewis made his plea for some good news, and how everyone laughed and scoffed? No one now dares say stop, and so we exist on a crazed diet of economic crash, swine flu, political malfeasance, feral children and vapid celebrities, who are unpicking the very moral fibre of the country with their bare hands, thread by thread. You can say it has always been so; you can say it does not matter so very much. You can say the punters are just getting what they want. But it does have real consequences. Take crime, for example. Because of sensationalist headlines about knives and stabbing and no police on the streets, the public believes that we are living in a crime wave. The numbers, dry and unsensational, suggest that crime is decreasing at a steady rate; the curve runs down yearly. So there is a canyon between perception and reality, and since no one believes any more a word the government says, those in power have given up even trying to insist on the truth of the matter.
So it goes with the blogs. The general notion is put about that the bloggers are geeks and freaks and blatant self-regarders. Don't go there: it is where the nutters live. When I first started blogging, I was actually afraid. My terror existed on several levels. I feared that people whose opinions I valued would mark me down in the narcissist box. I had an inchoate fret that by going from the safety of the printed page, where I have lived for my whole professional life, to the unknown world of cyberspace, I would somehow be sacrificing my literary integrity. (I know, don't shriek, but we all have our little fantasies about ourselves; literary integrity is one of mine.) And I had a low-level fear that once I entered the blogosphere I would find myself lost in Crazytown without a map home.
Instead, as I have written before and I shall almost certainly write again, I find myself in a disarmingly wonderful new place. I use the word wonderful advisedly: every day, as I navigate the blogging ether, I am actually filled with wonder. Kevin Kline once said in The Big Chill something like - how much fun, friendship and good times can one man take? That is how I feel about the bloggers. I wish one of the bad news merchants would one day decide to write about the cleverness, funniness, occasional blatant brilliance and sheer mass of interesting information that is to be found out there in blogland.
I slept badly last night. My poor old mum is in the hospital; I know she will be fine, but I don't like to think of her in a strange, sterile room, away from home. I woke this morning feeling slightly lost and worried. I listlessly checked my Twitter feed, more out of habit than anything else. And there was a message from Libertylondongirl saying: read my blog. I went to her page to find she had given Backwards In High Heels a glorious, shameless plug. It was a little shaft of sunlight in a grey day. (Also, it is the kind of thing my mum would love; she does not quite understand the concept of blogging, although she listens very politely as I try to explain it to her, but she understands very well the concept of people saying nice things about the book, and diligently clips cuttings on the subject and sends them to me in case I might have missed them.) Praise from LLG is a high thing. She is a serious presence in the blogosphere. When the papers pause in their embrace of the bad news and find a moment to run lists of the hundred best blogs, she is always high up on the roll call. From the moment I entered this strange new place, she took time to welcome me in, show me around, and fire off little morale boosters. No one writes about that, but I discover, to my delight and surprise, that this is what bloggers do. I suppose 'Some bloggers really are rather kind' is not the catchiest of headlines. It's not front page news. But today, it is my front page.