When I fell in love with the idea of open blog letters I certainly didn't envisage writing one to a website. I believe Pretty Jude Law is still waiting for his. But, somehow, this is the only way that I can write something that I think I've needed to write for a while.
I think that whatever happens in the future I will always believe in the power that the internet has to bring people together. And not just in a two guys wanking in cyberspace type way either. On the night after I watched Griffin come second in the tortuous-and-by-this-point-highly-biased-reality television show I googled him. And stumbled on A-G.co.uk . And when I clicked that link it connected me to literally hundreds of others who'd i)been sucked in by reality tv and ii)had supported Griffin. There, all within contact, were all of these people who'd voted, who'd laughed, who'd cried, who'd believed. And I spent the weeks following Griffin's progress through the eyes of the site.
When it was announced that he was going to switch on Middlesbrough Christmas Lights I decided to go. I'd never been to Middlesbrough before and there was no one I knew who I could reasonably drag along. But it didn't matter. There were other people from A-G.co.uk going. And when I ended up backstage with some of the people who would a couple of weeks later become the Northern Division and we met Griffin, it lost some of its oddness and gained something of a connection because Griffin knew we were from 'the site'.
In the months that followed A-G.co.uk effectively became Griffin's fan headquarters. And as 'Ali's Army' marched on we forged a community. But there was rather too much at stake for everyone. Rather than uniting in the support of Griffin, it fractured into who could get a piece of Griffin. And if the fans who posted in the forum were fragmented by this desire, then it fragmented the site itself.
I'd have loved to have spent the last year entirely ignorant of internal politics but I couldn't. It pains me to see what has become of a site which once seemed such a vital part of Griffin's future. And even this time last year it was starting to look like it would be possible to pull the site round. I still believed, even when Griffin had questioned Nik, Becky and myself in the middle of a carpark about the state that it was in, that it would be ok. How could somewhere where all these amazing friendships started simply disolve to nothing?
But it has.
The deaparture of one of the Admin led to Griffin initially moving back into the orbit of the site, in a manner that surprised even me given his earlier comments. But that is rather emphatically no longer the case and although the pretence is made that Griffin is still onboard it hardly takes Einstein to work out that he has positioned himself away from it. So much so that when a competition for some signed merchandise came up recently I actually had to question whether it actually was Griffin's signature. It certainly didn't look like it. But, I suspect, that my disquiet over this was actually more of a product of how disgruntled I feel about other aspects.
There is, and has been for some time, distinct contempt for its members. People who were 'managing' Griffin at one point were allowed and facillitated to post under numerous usernames, largely to stir up trouble. Even when it became one of the worst kept secrets of the Griffin experience, A-G.co.uk refused to do that thing which might have aided the process of rehabilitation and hold up their hands and apologise. The silence was deafening.
And from this moment the contempt seemed to grow. Member's photos of Griffin appear on the homepage without permission. Important concerns are either ignored or swept away. I even remember one evening where what I considered to be highly invasive pictures of Griffin in the entrance to his hotel appeared and were allowed to remain on site until I, after going almost apoplectic in my search for a mod or admin, complained about them.
Now it seems that as well as haemouraging members and moderators, it's lost another Admin. Naturally it seems to be all cloak and dagger and I doubt that many members are aware of this. And I think it is this final silence that has forced me into writing this.
Griffin needs his fanbase more than he ever has. And that's why it hurts me to see A-G.co.uk implode. But I really can't see how it can continue for long in the manner which it is as it sprawls into an increasingly un-moderated mass of dwindling members and pretensions of connections with Griffin.
Maybe, in my heart, I can't quite let go. Certainly that's the reason that I didn't abandon the site entirely several months ago. And because I can't quite let go I'm writing this. Because I'd love A-G.co.uk to attempt to turn itself around. To admit the mistakes and the politics which have over-ridden everything else for so long. To pull together a new moderating team, to finish off what is a half-finished site and spectactularly amateur looking re-design. To give itself a purpose away from hanging on to Griffin's coat-tails.
I'm not foolish enough to think that we can go back to those heady days prior to the BIO release in 2003. But I can't give up the hope that we might still go forward.
In reality I suspect that the best I can hope is that Griffin puts up his own information site. I heard rumours a while ago that he was going to. I cheered in the middle of the street when I was told this. It hasn't, as yet, emerged. I don't know if it ever will.
If I can't quite say goodbye to A-G.co.uk yet I suspect that this blog letter may be the start of that process. At one point it would have felt like giving up on Griffin to have said that. Now they're so seperated in my mind that it no longer is. And maybe that's where the beginning of the end lies.