Dear All, forgive long period of silence. I’m sorry that all I have posted recently have been Guardian columns. They will stop for three months or so I fear as I finish documentary filming with one arm for much of the time. For the grisly amongst you here is a picture of the break (a spiral fracture of the right humerus for those who know about these things) and one of the operation which secured a plate and ten screws along the bone. Quite a smash as you can see and it has taken me some time to recover both tissues and spirits.


Over the next month or so I continue the American documentary, filming my way up from New Orleans to the Great Lakes for Leg 3 which begins on the 3rd February.

I will be posting new blogs, both in audio podcast form and in traditional text blessay mode.


Meanwhile thank you for the tremendous quality and spirit of your own postings and comments, for pointing out my manifold omissions and ignorances, for contributing gracefully and knowledgeably to the various debates and for overlooking my own spasmodic presence.


This blog was posted in Blessays

Getting Overheated


How difficult, how exquisitely difficult it is to know where to begin. Anyone who has had the time or disposition to read the comments that readers have submitted to these pages over the last three weeks or so will be aware of a number of issues that need addressing.

Firstly and most crucially: how do Terry Pratchett readers eat soup?

We’ll answer that vital point momentarily, as they say here in the US. I do enjoy hearing American waiters using that word; as you enter a restaurant they might say, “I’ll be with you momentarily”. They are usually righter than they know: a fleeting vision that flickers before your eyes and then is gone. I suppose ‘in a moment’ takes too long to say in their busy lives and ‘presently’ is English English to the point of being more or less flagrantly homosexual, so ‘momentarily’ it is.

MomentARily of course rather than the English MOment’rily. Anyhoo … other things:

Do I know how to spell ‘Whoa’? Clearly not. Thanks for the spanky botty from one sensitive commentator, fully deserved.

Back to the boiling question of the moment – Pratchett fans and their soup-stylings.


This blog was posted in Blessays

I Give Up

What ho, world. Blessay or blissertation number three coming up in a moment. It has taken me a little longer than I had hoped to furnish the site with its third upload. There are reasons and I shall go through them quickly.

Why So Late? My first blog entry, Devices and Desires (see below) went some way towards expressing my extreme passion for things digital. It resulted in a very charming enquiry from the Guardian newspaper in London. Would I be interested in providing a weekly column on the subject of the gadget, the electronic doo-dad and the world of the gismoidal? I thought about this longish and hardish.

I wrote newspaper columns through much of the eighties and nineties, and enjoyed it greatly. But for all kinds of reasons I was more than happy to retire. Feeling stale, tiring of the deadlines, hating myself for manufacturing cheap, easy rants – the line of least resistance when you rack your brains for weekly copy is to think of something you hate. That way lies the death of the soul IM(not so)HO. All those feature columns with titles like J’Accuse, Bile, Spleen and so on. Nasty. Won’t Do. It all came to a head when an editor called me up and asked if I could do a “1200 word hate piece on Christmas”. Not a blush, not a murmur of apology. Time to reach for my hat and streak for the horizon, I felt. Plus, by this time I was pretty deeply into … ah, but wait, that’s for the main body of the blessay.

Anyway, the upshot of my longish and hardish thinking the other day was to reply with a ‘yes’. Five hundred or so words a week for the Saturday Guardian on the subject of geeky dorky toys, digital advances, lordly overviews of the online scene – just my bag. The ‘lead times’ for these magazines are bizarrely long, so I’ve had to provide a longer introductory article and the first two columns proper in advance. The writing of them has kept me from my blog table.

At the same time I have finished shooting the second series of Kingdom and now find myself in the United States of America on Day One of a great adventure: filming in every state of the union for a BBC documentary. My mode of transport of choice is a black London cab.

American Sunrise I was possibly the first person in America to see the sun this morning.

There’s a proud boast. I was standing on the harbour wall at Eastport, Maine staring out across the bay at a beautiful, beautiful sunrise. Eastport, Maine styles itself the easternmost city in America. The Lowestoft of the USA, if you will. There didn’t seem to be anyone else around so I allowed myself to believe that I was indeed the first to see the sun rise in America that day.

I took a picture to commemorate the event.


The land you see on the horizon there is actually Canada, where she twists round the topmost corner of Maine at Passamaquoddy Bay, so the picture is taken from as far east as you can go in the USA. Actually, that’s a moot point. Part of Alaskan territory (now water rather than ice) actually crosses the dateline or Antimeridian so in theory Alaska can be called the easternmost and westernmost state in America which is rather naughty of it, but there you are.

Meanwhile, back in Maine on the first day of my documentary filming, the Motel East, where the crew and I are staying, may be out of range of cellular phones but, mirabile dictu, it has wi-fi, so I am able to send this to my site. We start the actual filming this afternoon. I shall be hauling in lobster pots and looking stylish in a sou’wester. That’s the idea anyway. Probably heaving my guts up over the taff-rail, if they have such a thing.

I really enjoy making documentaries. Fearsome hard work, but deeply satisfying. After Manic Depression, HIV/AIDS and the life and work of Gutenberg (yet to be shown on BBC4 some time later in the year I think) a jaunt around every state of America may seem rather trivial or self-indulgent, but I hope that won’t be how it comes across. America is important. We have seen perhaps a little too much of British people going over to sneer at rednecks, laugh at freaks and wring their hands at nutters. The America I’ve visited (and I’ve crossed it before in traditional fashion; shiny red Mustang convertible, diner to diner, motel to motel. Very Bruce Dern) have always seemed to me to be more than ordinarily kind, friendly, hospitable, polite, thoughtful and honourable. Well, I’m visiting with an open mind but that has been my experience thus far. Maine for four nights, then New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York… you get the idea.

This blog was posted in Blessays

Let Fame

Firstly. A big thank you to all of you for putting up with the server problems that accompanied the arrival of my first blog essay, or blessay as I quite horribly prefer to call it. I thank you all for your suggestions, tips, links and comments. I can’t reply to all the points raised, but I will say that (A) the Nokia E series iSync plugin just simply doesn’t work for me, nor do any third party offerings. “Unexpected error”. I shall wait till Missing Sync come up with their solution which is due soon and (B) no, I don’t want my iPhone hacked or cracked, thanks very much for the offer. We may return to the geeky side of my life a little later.

This blessay, while entirely different in other respects, is also unaccountably and inexcusably prolix. Sorry about that, I don’t seem to be able to keep things brief. So my advice is that you read it in bits. Or print it out and save it for a rainy day or a recalcitrant motion.


This blog was posted in Blessays

Device and Desires

All the big guns want an iPhone killer. Even I, mad for all things Apple as I am, want an iPhone killer. I want smart digital devices to be as good as mankind’s ingenuity can make them. I want us eternally to strive to improve and surprise. Bring on the iPhone killers. Bring them on.

YOU might, somewhere along the way, have picked up the impression that I am a passionate Mac advocate: I bought my first 128K machine in 1984, the second Macintosh to be sold in the UK – at least so I’ve always maintained and believed (the first went to the still desperately missed Douglas Adams) and I have never had fewer than ten working Macs on the go since the late 80s. It is true that I value both the platform and the hardware, that I admire the imagination, flair, elegance, quality and pioneering spirit of the Apple corporation. All quite true.


This blog was posted in Blessays and Techblog