Sunday, May 18, 2014

Boat race, hi-ho crow and incense.

1. Round the back of the Greenwich Maritime Museum is a white stone culvert of fast-flowing water, slightly raised above the level of the path. I fold a paper boat for Alec. He drops it in and races down after it, now shouting encouragement and now ordering it to slow down. When it turns into a soggy mess we pick leaves out of the grating at the bottom and race those instead. It's tremendous fun for a while but I get tired of it before he does -- Godmother Jo takes over.

2. To throw a piece of cheese to a crow. A dapper, mannered goth, he takes it politely in his large black beak, drops it, pecks it, picks it up again, drops it, pecks it, picks it up again. I feel as if I'm part of a fable by Aesop -- though he looks as if he is too self-aware and self-assured to fall for the sweet words of a fox who would try to make him believe he can sing.

3. Reading back over old posts makes me long for a particular scent. I dig out my box of incense bits and rather doubtfully put a match to a charcoal disc. It crackles into life. I heap a pinch of sticky Starchild 'Earth' on top and wait for the warm resins to give up their gifts.

--

Ten years ago today I hit 'Publish' and the first ever 3BT post went live on a bright pink template. I started blogging because my colleagues He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and Chris Shaw strongly implied that I should if I wanted to fit in at the office. They had blogs, one apparently written by a woman who was stalking a Radio 2 DJ and the other in the voices of two fake Germans arguing about the Bee Gees. It was this white-hot furnace of creativity that forged those early posts.

I decided to write something positive, and I thought I would start by collecting a sort of suitcase of memories, tiny details that I never wanted to carry into the future. Of course memory is not reliable and when I read back there are incidents that I can't recall in my head -- but there they are, faded rather because my words don't always catch the spirit of the original but none the less preserved quite as well as flowers pressed in a great-great-aunt's hymn book.

When I read back over that first month I see that Chris and HWSNBN (AKA Ed) are not the only long-term friends of 3BT that pop up. There's my talented aunt Janey (she of wedding cake fame) strolling through a market on the Pantiles with me; and there's Fenella; there's Katie, later Katie-at-home and then Katie-who-I-used-to-live-with and now Auntie Katie.

I didn't expect to be writing for anyone not mentioned in the posts, and I didn't suppose we'd keep it (the writing and the reading) up for more than a few weeks. But 3BT attracted a band of readers who take such a kind interest in this record of the minutiae of my ordinary life. All you regular commenters and readers, Alison Wormald, Hillary, Heather, The Old Milk Can, Storyteller Mary, Box Elder, Joe in Vegas, Louisa Parry, Christine Borne, my cousins Amy and Laura who from time to time contribute their own beautiful things and all you lurkers, thank you for sharing the journey with me and for the wise words you dispense when you think they are needed (they often are). And I should also mention Anna who read about Nick's newly shaved and velvety head and ran up to stroke it when she saw us out and about in a Tunbridge Wells church -- she and Sarah Salway have been tremendously supportive and wonderfully encouraging. And a shout-out to Godfather Tibby, also. And of course the much-missed Plutarch. He was one of the first people to pick up the 3BT format and run with it, and he once said (according to Lucy Box Elder) that it was as good as penicillin. But what an amazing experience it has been, seeing all the other bloggers that have given 3BT a go. I want particularly to mention Sprite Writes, another early adopter who is still at it today.

Bettany and Alec deserve a big snuggly cuddle and some sweets for their contributions, but they don't read 3BT all that often, so I'll do it face-to-face instead; and of course Nick who manfully picks up the household chores that I drop in order to scrawl my posts and sets me right when I LOSE ALL SENSE OF PROPORTION.

I'm sure I've left some people out of my survey of the faces of the 3BT crowd -- sleep deprivation has played merry hell with my memory, and I haven't had as long as I would have liked to craft and work these words. I'm sorry to have missed anyone, and I hope the comments will jog my memory.

I've blogged through good times (love, engagement, marriage, childbirth, sitting on pavements at 4am listening to chill-out music) and bad times (depression, job loss, bereavement, house moves, endless battles with the common cold). I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the supportive voices that pipe up in the comments on posts about big life events.

We've been talking about favourite posts and Louisa mentioned the engagement post (see above) but I'm particularly proud of the posts I wrote on the day Bettany was born, and the post describing her birth (the reason for this is, to paraphrase Dr Johnson, not because they are written well but because they were written at all).

I've missed a few days here and there (Nick is making a list and strongly implying that I should address this lapse) but I'm pleased with my work, though it's one of those things that always needs improvement. I'll go on writing for a few years yet, and I hope you'll go on reading and enjoying my offerings.