The Delete Button

I have a confession to make. I came home yesterday and found that someone had added the following comment to my last post: “This blog is as dull as it sounded in the newspaper.” Tired and emotional after a long day and a sleepless night, turning the spaghetti with one hand, I deleted with the other.

Clearly this is a gesture that can’t be undone but I wish to apologise to the person who made the comment. Firstly he was right, the post about food was rather dull (thankfully I didn’t write about food in my book) and secondly I had no right to delete his comment, however unhappy it made me at the time. I would like to invite him to post it again, with added vitriol if he likes. I looked at his blog (The Daily Fail) this morning and discovered that we are probably ill-matched as blogging buddies but that is not the point. He must feel as free to insult me as I (should I ever feel so inclined) must feel to insult him.

This shameful gesture of mine came in the aftermath of a fantastically bad review in the Mail on Sunday. Night brings counsel, as the French say, because this morning I woke up feeling strangely relieved that The Mail had hated my book (though the funniest thing is that the reviewer castigated me for French bashing!?) Even if he didn’t actually read the book, I’m glad he panned it. As I’m glad now that the author of the Daily Fail finds my blog boring.

Chacun son truc.

13 thoughts on “The Delete Button

  1. People who don’t like “dull” blog posts can take their eyeballs elsewhere. May karma return to them in the form of equally inconsiderate gestures.

  2. I have a related confession to make. When I saw yesterday that strangely negative (for me) comment on the previous post I wanted to post an objection saying how on the contrary rarely interesting your blog is. But as it was indeed the end of the day and I was tired too, I said to myself that I’ll do it tomorrow, the more so that usually there are no many comments here. While at the same time there was a whole little tragedy going on at the other side of the cable, which I could evidently prevent! 🙂 (I just want to believe it!) How instructive: the importance of all those “small positive gestures” we should not neglect… However finally it’s also interesting, your thus manifesting emotional way, quite opposite to the idées reçues about “moderate” English temper and “cool” habits (“such climate, such temper” 🙂 )… But now your honest confession and sincere repentance, that is truly English (within my illusion about it)! Hard to expect something like that from French! 🙂 They are generally honest too, but … in a different, less “obligatory” way…

    As concerns your blog, en plus c’est vrai that it’s rarely intellectual and therefore interesting for me. In addition, it has a much higher, “writer” level of expression, not only linguistically, but “artistically”, whereas practically 100 % of other bloggers are only amateur writers. A more subtle feature of interest is that specific “French virus” syndrome that I feel you too may have, in your version, and which is infinitely diverse and ill-defined but kind of deep and interesting for those who had a strange chance to “catch” it (only some foreigners and never native French). It may correlate or not with your book motivation, but for example, there is sometimes a strange feeling that I know or need France or something related to it more than native French who profit from it but cannot really be aware of it, being themselves merely a sort of its “natural environment”…

    Go on, then, with blogging (intensify and tell everything, you can!) and don’t be scared by anything in comments (those you have here are yet very moderate!): it’s all so subjective and so diverse, no way to ask for any order (unless with time). I don’t know how it may look to you, but my general impression from this last-time web 2.0 exchange is a kind of last (and ultimate) disillusionment about this whole “humanity” (its presumably “best” part!) and its recent evolution (before it was difficult to have the entire, world-scale picture so easily!)… And it’s much deeper, of course, than some “impolite” or even openly abusive expressions. While avoiding genuine estimate, the problem is indeed that they are desperately dull, almost all of them… That’s also why there is little sense to become seriously upset by their negative opinions (you finally seem to arrive at the same conclusion). One may be upset by this general situation as a whole: if it’s their world, this one, where the hell is ours?! If yet there may be any “us” greater than one 🙂 … My own idea is that in today’s Big Bang of diverging mental trajectories, any “us” should tend to unite and actually find “our” way to create our world… Don’t be afraid to call it stupid, I’m already disappointed! 🙂

    It’s interesting that you seem to have chosen to live more or less permanently (if I properly understood) in a “deep” enough French province, very nice and “tourist”, of course, but still it’s the true “campagne” and well, it may give an impression of “escape” from all this stupid loud world, that sort of solution… In any case, this one seems to become popular among some “educated circles” that can afford it… But then, what to do there, “all the time”, or even what to write about, for you? The secrets of France may appear to be as exhaustible as everything else in this world… 🙂 C’est quoi, finalement, ton truc à toi? 🙂 And then, where does all of it go to, in that way? What is the eventually emerging or at least desired reality, in this post-post-post-industrial (but always so industrial!), obviously degrading world? It cannot continue in the same way for a long time, can it?

  3. Thank you, Andrei.

    I suppose, to answer your question (the one about “what to do” in the “middle-of-nowhere” in which I have chosen to live), I’ll simply return to what I do; which is to write fiction. No need to be in the hub for that. Most of the “stuff” comes from your childhood anyway. All you need is a little peace and quiet. Blogging, for me, goes against the grain. It’s an education in that sense and I feel I can’t duck out of it, even when I want to. So I’ll go on, as you suggest and hope I don’t become irredeemably dull in the process.

  4. It’s a pleasure to see that you have apparently found that harmonious combination of “peace and quiet” with artistic creativity. Something opposite to usual contradiction between peace and success. Blog could be a good complement there, as a link to the “big” world emphasising the importance of peace and quiet.:) Maybe it’s even a major problem of this species: it cannot find a suitable combination of peace and progress, it always needs an ugly fight to progress…

    But writing (and reading!) is not so evident today, even in the best conditions. After all, the “big” literature had died, together with any other art and usual, “hot” history (involving also the fall of canonical religion, morality, now science, and all the rest). Visual arts went definitely in the “applied”, decorative direction (cinema including). Literature seems yet to “fight” but also goes in that direction of more direct relation to practical/real life (The Secret Life of France may also be a good example within that tendency). But now with traditional fiction, it may be more difficult to catch a proper evolution tendency. If readers would be permitted to “order” a book direction, genre or structure from authors (that would be really great for both sides, wouldn’t it?!), I would prefer a kind of “fictional fiction” about a possible life or reality for this, real world but essentially different from its ordinary version. Something like “science fiction” (one possibility) but not necessarily based or concentrated on new “technical” possibilities but rather on another “life style”. Like, for example, an intellectual English female writer comes to live and work in peace and quiet to a far-away French province and then, unexpectedly…:) Please, continue the story, on this blog, in your real life, in a book…:)

    Apart from it, what’s going on with your native island? Everybody’s leaving the sinking ship Britannia, so that the poor island may finally become wild again?!:) Where’s the famous British stability and “consistency”? Your case is yet a quite natural one: they’ve shown a documentary here about a “cultivated” young English woman, an artist from London that has chosen to live near those Russian high mountains, Pamir or Tien Shan in Central Asia, really in the middle of nowhere, many thousand miles away, without any usual “civilisation”, because she had found there a sort of “positive energy”, related inspiration, etc. And she’s so passionate about it, should have really enough of London to be forced so far away! Muslims come to London, Londoners go to the end of the world … and some still pretend that it’s no more than business as usual! Maybe it is, after all, just a peaceful replacement of the good old colonisation and wars…

  5. Calling something ‘dull’ is the first resort of the incurably challenged. As for calling it “as dull as it sounded in the newspaper”, well, there’s enough vagueness here to render further consideration futile. (Fascinating, a mental universe in ‘the’ newspaper needs no further explanation.) Mine may be a minority view, but isn’t this whole blogging business unsuitable for accurate readers? The place where the ‘cheap shot’ holds sway?

    Under cover of anonymity, the unhelpful intruder can invite himself to a mean-feast ‘chez les autres’. By all means cut him off, feel free. It’s not as if he was contributing much more than a bleat? It’s your party and you can excise if you want to.

    Anyway, it’s far from certain that your post about food WAS ‘rather dull’. The great wedge of humanity is rather turned on by this unpromising subject. Turned on to about the same extent as they are growing ignorant of the simple practicalities of cooking and eating – and experience suggests that the French are little cleverer in this than the Brits. Though they make a better fist of talking the talk.

    Having kicked that anthill and quickly moving on… I simply don’t understand your scruples: ‘I had no right to delete his comment’ or ‘I would like to invite him to post it again’. This is getting into help-yourself-and-have-another-kick territory. There has to be a point at which ‘blog-iquette’ can be suspended. Is quality-control anathema? Summary: Daily Fail, no great loss.

    As for the ‘Mail’ review taking you to task for ‘French-bashing’ – well, that’s just too, too delicious. Something to be treasured, framed even. Make much of it, Lucy. Yes, have it framed and placed in a prominent place.

  6. A BIG thanks, Lucy!

    SInce the article about you, and the book “The Secret Life of France” appeared in the Sunday Mail’s “You” Magazine last weekend, I’ve been desperate to find out what a “blog” was!

    Now, after days of desperation, despair and utter confusion, I’ve now managed to set up my own “blog” !

    Seeking ways to supplement my old age pension, (since the Government takes away with one hand what it gives with the other, God rot their socks!) I have stumbled across several interesting ways of making money on the internet, one of which appears to be “blogging”!

    It remains to be seen, then, Lucy, whether you and I will be milionaires this time next year!

    Note to self, ask for a copy of “The Secret Life of France” for birthday at end of August!

    If it is anything like “Clochemerle”, I shall be a happy bunny!

    Good Luck!
    Daisy May

  7. If you’re new to bloggery, Daisy May, here’s a tip: your sign-in name should also be a link to your blog so that you potentially get traffic when you make a comment.

    Very good luck. And if you do find a way of making money out of blogging, be sure and let me know.

    Not sure what the book is really but it’s definitely not Clochemerle. Nor is it, as so many Brits seem to think, an indictment of French sexual morays. But I’ll stop telling you what it isn’t and leave you to make up your mind as to what it might be.

  8. The ‘bad review’ in the Mail on Sunday is surely not something you want to be remembered by. But, having said that, I am too curious what they could possibly dislike about it. It is unfindable! Could you please provide me with the website link…?

  9. I have been trying to find it myself online, without success, which is in some ways a blessing. I haven’t actually seen it yet (Someone read it to me over the phone while I was in Paris).

  10. Oscar Wilde said you should never read a book before reviewing it as it might influence your opinion. I should not bother reading your reviews but instead recommend having all your friends drop raves onto Amazon. It is of course not necessary that they have read the book, either.

  11. Lucy, a book of mine was widely and well-reviewed. Then to my horror I found the Mail on Sunday had described it as one of ‘the top ten summer holiday reads of all time’, with I think Treasure Island at number 1 and me at 9, scraping in in front of Bill Bryson at 10.

    The Daily Mail features editor read the first few pages of the same book and then told me by phone that he didn’t like it, but spared me a bad review which I would have welcomed as a 100% endorsement of my book. You must take this bad review from the Daily Mail as the highest compliment any U.K author can aspire to.

    As to ‘blog etiquette’, it does exist but only in a cloud of self-imposed rules that seem to completely defeat the purpose of blogging which is not to be be restricted by any obstacle to direct publication or by any editor’s rules, deadlines or demands. Try posting a severely critical piece about the quality of any U.K newspaper, let alone the Mail, on any one of their forums and see if it’s published. Ditto the BBC. You can critique an article but don’t knock the organ of delivery.

    So I too am with Charles. Do what the hell you like.

    What I did find interesting is the person’s comment about a new type of fiction. I’m working on something pretty much as I think I understand him to mean it. New author literary fiction is pretty much dead as far as I can tell, and non-fiction can read as well as any fiction. V.S Naipaul got this some time ago. The House of Mr. Biswas and The Enigma of Arrival, most especially the latter, were sold as fiction but as his recent biography reveals, the lines between his life and his fiction were often extremely blurred. And why not? It certainly didn’t stop him winning a Nobel prize for Literature.

    I’ve got one more more week to go here in the U.K and then I’m off home. To my ‘pays’ in the French sense of the word. I can’t understand your use of the word ex-pat which is a very 20th century word used for the globally multi-country, three year tours of duty crowd. Isn’t the only country you are an ex-patriate of in fact France ,when you spend 2 and half months in England after 20 years in the country that is your home. Which is perhaps why you found it so grueling.


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