I was a latecomer to this whole computer business. I had only a vague notion of the internet as a confusing gallimaufry of misinformation, men pretending to be elves, European anuses and pictures of kittens, all of which I have encountered more than often enough in my long and scurrilous life. I was content with my library and my memories and had no intention of going upline, until my Fanny went on a bender two towns over and came to in something called a cyber cafe. She returned home with a torn petticoat, a skew-whiff wig and the news that people put their diaries on the internet. The very next day I sent her out to obtain this machine, and we set about poking our noses into other people’s lives. It has been something of a tonic. It gets rather lonely in this labyrinthine old house with only my Fanny to entertain me. There are the tableaux in the east wing, of course, but one grows weary of their poses and they are starting to smell.
Sometimes you can form an instant opinion of the people you meet out there. You know immediately if they are friend or foe. Some of them take a bit longer to get the measure of and this, after a long and tedious preamble for which I wholeheartedly do not apologise, brings me to June. I would probably never have encountered anyone in June’s situation had it not been for the internet. She is a young woman who has recently moved from Bombay to Copenhagen to be with her Intended, in a rather sweet little love story that brought a tear to my Fanny’s eye.
It was perhaps a little unfortunate that the first post I read descended into the kind of aren’t-shoes-pretty-wittering that belongs in the drawing room with the ratafia and the pianoforte. I decided to forgive her on the grounds that she has pretty feet (which put Fanny in a sulk, I can tell you. She won’t have feet mentioned any more. I tried to remonstrate but she just pouted and stamped her hoof) and read on. And on, and on.
I couldn’t help myself. I read like I would eat a whole tin of Quality Street; with a numbed, mindless pleasure, drooling into my cravat. I have no idea why. Most of it passed me by in a charming froth of inconsequentiality. After what could have been days, Fanny set about me with a carpet-beater and I came to my senses. When I had restored my equilibrium with a hefty rum-and-Calpol I had another peek at June and I swear I could not fathom what had drawn me in.
That’s not entirely fair. I was curious about this post, on tigers and tribesmen. It is interesting to read about the differences between Bombay and Copenhagen, two places that certain political misunderstandings prevent me from visiting. She’s not afraid to be serious. I was outraged when some despicable rogues tried to steal her beloved dog. All of this, however, is muddled up with far too many posts about socks, lists of things to do in bad weather and photographs of her winter wardrobe for it to be my cup of cocoa.
In her little introduction, June says;
“I am not a professional writer, not even an aspiring one. Grammar and spelling Nazi’s and my dear literary gold diggers, the exit door is at the top to your right. This blog is just so family and friends can stay updated. Okay? O.K.”
Now this might make you wonder why she has chosen to submit her blog for review, particularly to a site notorious for its jackboot-wearing prospectors, but I would imagine she has done what so many of us do; start a blog, get a few encouraging comments, suddenly think we’re Gore Vidal. This is the nature of the ether, and it is forgivable. The above quote also suggested to me that I would not like June’s writing one little bit, and yet I made an absolute pig of myself on it, and have been left feeling confused.
Sometimes, on soggy Sunday afternoons, I drag the tin bath before the fire so I can wallow like a shameless old beast with a pound of coltsfoot rock and a stack of Regency romances. I surface hours later, having read myself into a happy fugue, remembering nothing. As a special treat, Fanny sometimes brings me one of those magazines for bloodthirsty working-class housewives, the ones with the headlines like ‘Is My Vagina Haunted?’, ‘Murdered by my Siamese Twin’ or ‘My Cancer Looks like Jesus’. I like to do the puzzles and cut out the pictures for my scrapbook. These are my guilty pleasures, along with aggravating my Fanny, and it is in this spirit that I approached June.
It would be nice if every blog I read was so beautifully written and so profound that I felt compelled to memorise it, but as this is unlikely, it is sometimes pleasant to spend a couple of hours enveloped in the happy chatter of a young woman who cracks jokes about eating her dog. I wouldn’t recommend her to those of you who are in search of the startling; in fact, I don’t think she would appeal to this audience very much at all. You are a bunch of jaded old Romans who need far rarer delights to tempt your palate.
Did June submit her blog here in search of advice? I have a sneaking suspicion that nobody really wants advice, they just crave affirmation. I could tell June to decide whether she is writing for her friends and family or for a wider audience and, if it’s the latter, to generally buck up when it comes to all the usual stuff (keep your focus, let your story make your point, stop it with the cocking exclamation marks etc), but mainly I would like to advise her to invest in some frilly thermals.
Perhaps it’s just the loneliness. Perhaps it’s that the only vaguely female thing I get to see these days is my Fanny. Perhaps June bewitched me. All I can say is that I found her to be reasonably entertaining, if mainly froth, and that if she ever passes my way, I am sure I could find a place for her in the tableaux.
I award you a puppy.