Sunday, April 17, 2005

Giving Up

Giving Up

Dear A-G.co.uk,

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.

Corinne.x

31 comments:

Shona said...

Did your evil imp not push you to name the admin who has left, [cough] Nick, or would that put the cat among the pigeons too much?

Your post made me feel sad yet relieved .... I would love to see these issues being discussed on AG and a real 'shake up' occuring.

Anonymous said...

I've read previous things you've wrote on here and have been really shocked but this letter is very true AG does need something to change otherwise we will all end up leaving due to one thing or another and I would agree with you Alistair does need his fans at this point in his career. Its a real shame that a site that was once full of happiness and support for Alistair has gone into compleate disary.

Penny said...

I agree. I've "left" several times, but not properly, just not posted. The whole mess in the summer with the "management" issue and trying to sort out the gig that never was and most parties posting something ill-advised at some point (emotions, can't avoid 'em), the sniping and the back-biting on and off site. The silence and the crushing of questions by mods, "management", over-eager fans.

I don't think Al will ever do his own site, he wouldn't be bothered. It'd fall to his family and friends, who were going to do something but are busy and also probably feeling quite torn themselves about what has happened to the site.

Penny said...

sorry about that. look, my computer going mental. quelle surprise.

Anonymous said...

*Sigh*

As a relatively early member of the site (under 100) its main purpose for me has always been to 'meet' fellow fans and get information on record releases and gigs. I may lag behind many others who are more 'in the know', but this remains my only source of information. Perhaps the overwhelming inital success of the site has ultimately contributed to its downfall - friendships now so closely forged that typed messages have been superceded by telephone calls, texts and weekends away.

Someone hug me - I think i'm losing a friend......

Anonymous said...

How fucking sad...

Anonymous said...

For someone studying for a degree in English ,you should check your spelling.

Corinne said...

Shona - I felt that I didn't need to name the Admin concerned as it's pretty obvious to those who visit the site. And to anyone else the name would be meaningless.

Anon 1- You're right, it really does sadden me.

Penny - I think you're right about Al. He certainly doesn't have the interest to put up a site. I can but hope that at some point (the second album if it's happening?) someone, in a non-fan context, does it for him.

Anon 2 - I think the success of the site in forming friendships undoubtedly has contributed but I don't think that's where the major problems lie. I have some very close friends from the site but I don't think that's what stops me posting. What stops me posting is everything else that goes with it. Though I very much see where you're coming from.

Anon 3 - I'm not sure that I should dignify you with an answer but since I'm here - how fucking sad that you feel the need to comment anonymously in such a manner. Right or wrong, this is a personal blog and I can express anything that I feel comfortable putting my name to.

Anon 4 - Ditto above. If the best alternate view that you can come up with is a fairly immature comment on my spelling, somehow I don't think that I need to be worried. Clearly you're not a regular reader (but with such an attitude, why would you be?) or you'd know my rule about spelling and my attitude towards it.

cat said...

It is sad to see AG faltering like this; it could be so much more than it is, and Alistair could utilize it so much more than he does. But in its present state (and I’m not just talking about the half finished “re-design”) I’m not at all surprised that he seems to have chosen to disassociate himself from it, even I am vaguely embarrassed. And yet I can’t quite let go either.

AG just about remains, for the time being, and almost by default, the first stop for Alistair Griffin fans. But the times they are a-changin’.

I don’t know if Nick’s current absence is a permanent departure, or a temporary hiatus, but the history of mistrust and infighting between the owners does not really inspire confidence. The site’s very inception was, I believe, a thinly veiled front for the forwarding of various personal agendas – but I can’t fault them for that, I might have done the same had I the know-how. Now that those agendas and strained allegiances are, not unsurprisingly, unravelling, the community that was formed, that I once cherished, is in peril too.

It’s a difficult time; Alistair is out of the public eye, apparently beavering away on the second album. He has nothing to sell, so of course he has no need to communicate with his fans. And his fans are an odd bunch, web-based, reality-tv watching, and with an obsessive tendency towards excessive self-analysis (I include myself of course, how could I not, after spending longer than is necessary dwelling on this before committing my thoughts to cyberspace!)

That’s all for now…

Anonymous said...

Nick's not been on the site much recently I noticed, but he does appear to have been on today. Maybe he's just taking a break from things for a while?

How can A-G.co.uk turn itself around then?

Anonymous said...

Hi Corinne

Someone suggested I should take a look at this and I'm so glad she did cos you've said what I've been thinking so absolutely ages. It is a terrible shame that it's came to this... but that's human nature in all it's ugly glory I guess.

Anyhow back to the subject matter - Griffin's website, I've been concerned for ages, in fact almost a whole year, that he hasn't made the effort to get his own up and running. He desperately needs his own organ (no pun intended - honest). As fans we need to be kept informed on his progress, or at the very least his intentions. I have to say I am extremely disillusioned by the way he's treated us over the past year though. By not getting his own messages across to his fanbase we've been left floundering... I'm convinced all the back-stabbing and nastiness is partly due to this. As you know James tends to keep people up to date with his career, whilst I wouldn't expect Al to be as open as Mr. Fox, it would be nice to hear something from the Dark Horse's mouth. If only he'd used Ilkley as a way to communicate to us all.

As for his own website - I have offered my services (I am experienced in web design), I even made a demo site and sent it to him... but have heard absolutely zilch! Personally I think that's rather rude, cos even if he isn't interested, he could at least tell me it's crap. Some sort of acknowledgment wouldn't go amiss.

I must make it clear that by doing so I have no ulterior motive to get involved with Griffin in any other way - I may look dumb, but I'm not that stupid! I told him it would be a one-off effort, he could take ownership and afterwards he could even update it himself, or get his mates to do it. Whatever, I hope he has enough dosh to get one sorted out professionally... it's crazy to be an up and coming artist without a good shop window - which let's face it - the Cork Messsageboard is NOT! IMO he could do without a forum too - Jembie's is perfectly adequate for discussions on all things Griffin, he doesn't need one attached to his Official one that's for sure. Nope - what he needs is a newspage that he, and only he can update.

The strange thing is, that no matter how many times I feel irritated by Mr G - I still feel the calling (oh god - will these unintentional puns ever end?). His talent is far too strong to be ignored, and no matter what, he manages stirs up a great deal of affection within me. I may not visit the CB anymore, and only occasionally make the odd upset on GC - but I do care about Al and still continue to support him - probably always will.

BTW I am choosing to remain anon - but I'll give you a clue - I'm one of the SD!

Thanks again Corinne!

Cat said...

I think I know the identity of the Honourable Member from the South and, probably to our mutual alarm, find myself in agreement with her – for the second time in as many weeks.

Anonymous said...

A very poignant post, which will ring true with an awful lot of Al fans. I don't know the answers..others would probably put that a lot more eloquently, but I hope that somehow Al realises that although we may be an 'odd' bunch, most of us are okay and only want the best for him (& not a piece of him!) including a website that truely represents him and not the people that run or post on it.

Anonymous said...

Thought you might Cat ;o) Nice to be in agreement - after all, regardless whatever else has happened, we all still care about Al. I am pondering though as to what else we have agreed on? lol

I suppose I was a bit vocal after Ilkley... but luckily for everyone - I've retreated back into my shell once again! There is a real world (oh no not another pun) to take my mind off most things Griffin/Fox these days. I've put it all into perspective and there's more to do than to constantly wait for updates from the guys... nevertheless, it's nice to know what's happening with them.

Guess it's like bit like true love in a way.. at first the passion, then it just slipslides away into the nearest easy chair, wtih a pipe and cosy slippers. Hmmm - not too difficult to visualise The Griff in that scenario is it? Bet he'd still have that bloody white T-shirt on ROFL

Oooops with that.... I'd better say farewell!

Ciao from Ms Unpopular of the SD X

P.S. I so agree with the last post!

Shona said...

Some interesting points but I'd love to see fewer anons! Corinne, I mentioned Nick because altho' it maybe clear to most on the site that Nick has been quiet for those who have been AG members and haven't been on much recently they may be left scratching their heads. I still don't know whether Nick will be back but would love more openness about this on site.

I also feel the whispering, in-fighting, the "I know more than you" mentality that has clouded the site on numerous occasions has been, for me, a major factor in avoiding posting as much as I was wont to do [a good thing some may say!!].

Initially the odd posts by Alistair were fun but the hints that more regular involvement was coming has just led to disappointment and us Griffin fans [as a mass grouping] have always seemed to want more than we have been getting - I think this has been compounded by the fact that his flatmate/fellow FA student and friend James Fox has been much more communicative and involved with his fans/website. Comparisons are invidious but natural - Alistair, for some, has been seen to be distancing himself and that has been difficult to take.

For me, the desire to hear new music from him is the priority, and I want to know about music releases/gigs I can go to/radio/tv I can listen to. Where I want the site to change/alter I am not totally sure but for me I feel there is a need to be more open about the links with Alistair and what we expect from him/what he feels he can deliver.

Jen said...

Well i have nothing to say...You all said it so much better....
Thanks Corinne and everyone else. Straight talking is almost obsolete these days

Corinne said...

So many good points that I don't know where to start!

In general re:Nick, it may well be just a break. Since this information came from largely incoherent comments from a mod (the mod?) I'm not sure which way to spring this.

Cat - I agree entirely, but then you knew that ;)

Our 'anon' member of the SD (the puns gave it away :P ) - I think I've experienced some very similar feelings to you about Al in the last few months (I blogged about them prior to Ilkley). And whilst I always try not to draw the Fox card; it's hard when if Fox sneezes we know about it, whereas Griffin could be recording his album and we don't know about it other than in muffled news reports. I definitely agree that the last thing Griffin needs is another forum - eek at the thought - but a basic infomation giving site (maybe with a few nice pictures, because I still need to be shallow at times) seems to be desperately needed.

Our 'odd' bunch poster - I'm with you entirely. I can only hope that Al sees beyond some of the crap that flies around. Some times I'm not sure - and it really, really must be difficult for him given what he has to put up with at times - but ultimately we can but hope.

Shona - I'm all about the openess! And I think that you've hit the nail on the head about the deception - the fact that it was constantly insinuated that Al was involved (and indeed continues to this day it seems) when this has never materialised on even a basic level has to have contributed to disaffection and, possibly, even to my own feelings about Al.

As for how I think AG could turn itself around - at this stage there are no easy answers but I think a lot of what I would like to see involves more honesty - about the connection to Al, about the problems that have occurred, rather than the head in the sand approach which seems to be the current method of choice. Get some new mods, spell out some guidelines (a lot of the bickering seems to stem from the fact that as the board has gone from being quite tightly moderated to being hardly moderated at all no one really knows where they stand and what is/isn't acceptable). I think this would help it as a fansite, but if it wants to stay as it is there's only one thing that will turn it around - getting Griffin back on board.

Corinne said...

Thanks Jen :)

Anonymous said...

I can't see Griffin going back on board to be honest. I think he's lost sight of his career in music :(

Anonymous said...

Don't know about lost sight of his career in music but sure as damn it in his faith in human nature.

cat said...

There doesn't seem to much joy left does there? Even being a fan is hard, thankless work! I hope the new album, as and when, will invigorate what has become a quite jaded scene, for all concerned.

Anonymous said...

Certainly no one could blame him for losing his faith in human nature or reconsidering his musical path. I can easily understand why the only people he feels he can trust are his pre-FA mates and family, but is that doing him any favours?

I realise I'm gonna get annihilated for saying this, I'm not saying this to to start a quarrel either but the last few gigs have had a 'family occasion' vibe, which has left me with the impression that I've almost felt as if I was intruding. I do understand that he may feel 'safer' with his family productions... yes they're a lovely bunch of people, but with the best will in the world not perhaps the best people to advise him. I'm only giving my thoughts an airing here btw. As usual I hope that I'm totally off-kilter and he'll prove us doubters wrong. His existing fanbase will accept him and his foibles whatever... but he has to go a lot farther than that. I sincerely hope he hasn't lost sight of his musical career!

Am I the only one that isn't entirely comfortable with the 2 distinct sets at his gigs? Probably, but to me it seems to convey the impression that he's almost two performers. Doesn't that make him a difficult artist to market? I know I'm alone in thinking Riccardi don't exactly complement him... I'm sure they're lovely guys, and with them behind him he can stay in his comfort zone. Unfortunately they will always be Riccardi - not Al's band. To my way of thinking he ought to find a set of musicians that are willing to lose their identity and merge with him... therefore they would back him regardless of the type of song. I'd love to hear Al perform his 'acoustic' set with just a gentle backing, nothing that would distract from his distinct style... but who could give more ambiance than just Waggo on his own (some soft percussion perhaps?). Anyway I have no knowledge of music whatsoever, so what do I know? I'd love to watch Al perform both rockier songs and ballads in the same set. Can't wait to hear his latest stuff, with all he's experienced - he's certainly had a wealth of weirdo's/events to inspire him lol! Hopefully it will be slightly more inventive than Sex & Love - now don't get me wrong, I love the tune and it's extremely catchy... but when he sings the word DISCO oooh - it makes me cringe!

Apologies Corinne for using up too much of your weblog! Cheers anyhow... and may the next chapter of The Saga of Griffin continue shortly!

Anon of the SD :o)

Anonymous said...

Anon of the SD, you're not alone in thinking that Riccardi don't exactly complement Al. Myself and several others have often talked about this at gigs. Nothing against the boys, they're fabulous people and very talented musicians in their own right, but as you say, they have their own identity and it's not fitting with Al.

Corinne said...

Whilst I'm probably rather too fond of Riccardi to comment on this - I love seeing them and if their backing Al means that I get to see more of them...well...;) - but I understand entirely where you're both coming from. I too see them as a band in their own right rather than as Al's backing band and the complications that this may cause. I'd love some of the acoustic numbers to have some more experimentation on too - I think we got a little taste of that at the Bedford last year. And if Al comes to the decision that he needs to have "Al's band", then I'd totally support that. Short of him deciding to rap, however, I think I'd support any musical decision he made, though.

As for new songs - I get all dizzy and excited at the prospect. But then the aspect of Al as writer has always attracted me.

And don't apologise for the length, Anon SD, I've always loved hearing what Griffin's fans have to say and, regardless of my viewpoint, I'm rather glad that you said it.

Anonymous said...

Do you know what's so interesting about all these comments, is that we've all been able to say what we think without anyone jumping on our backs. It is such a shame that AG.Co.UK have never encouraged people to be honest about their feelings. A happy-Clappy atmosphere is fine on the surface but breeds all sorts of anomosity.

We all care desparately for Alistair and while we want to applaud and be proud of his achievements sometimes we are going to be critical and it's only by getting these varied reactions can you get a true picture of Alistair the perfomer and the person.

The last year has been pretty crap for him and it takes a pretty stong person to pick themselves up and carry on and maybe that's where the family, Waggo and Ricardi come in, in that they are his comfort zone just now. I too hope he can break away a little, perhaps by taking a few risks he could be more widely recognised for the special talent we already know him to be. Sorry, I've rambled on a little but think that's a Griffin fan trait!

Shona said...

I think last anon poster's comments have been spot on ... it is great to be able to comment openly and there seems to have been a great outpouring from folk who tho' still incredibly supportive of Al's talents want a chance to comment realistically and critically [in a constructive manner] on his performances/aspects of his musical decisions. A wish to air their views without being made to feel that they are a Judas or less of a fan seems a simple wish but one which has been impossible on the AG site for a very long time.

The desire to comment on the fansite constructively has also been something that has been avoided and repressed - the admin are perfectly at liberty to do this but I feel this paranoia/lack of honesty & clarity/ and 'us & them' feeling has been incredibly divisive.

Like Corinne said .... giving up on AG.co.uk has not happened yet but it is no longer my first port of call when I log on - Distant Aggravation is one of many higher up on my list!!!

Val said...

I feel like I'm very late to this party.

What I find interesting in reading many of these comments is that we’re pretty much all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ (apart form the obvious exceptions) and that there are very clearly a lot of views out there that aren’t being heard at the moment – it does seems a little bizarre that its taken Corinne’s blog to bring this out. What is heartening is to see so much constructive support for Al and his career despite there being so little current information.

I am sad that there remains this air of suspicion that pervades A-G and perhaps has indirectly led to so many anonymous comments on here. I hardly post any more because, frankly, I have nothing to say on there, and can’t be bothered to scroll through all the pictures and waffle. I suppose I lost heart when it became clear that anything that was viewed as ‘against the party line’ was deleted. I still read, but like Shona, I visit many other sites first, and spend very little time there – and its more in the hope than expectation of anything interesting appearing. Right at the beginning of this, Corinne said she no longer felt that giving up on A-G felt like giving up on Al, and I agree. It’s a long time since the two were connected in my head. I may have personally moved on a little, but I still love his voice and am dying to hear some new material. I just no longer look to A-G as the place to find out about any of it. And, at last, I can wait. x

Anonymous said...

I may be a litle lacking in resourcefulness (that's a long word isn't it?) - but where else might one go to get that kind of information....please....???

Anonymous said...

I find it strange that at the same time as complaining about all the anons on here, the ones who say they rarely visit A-G are actually there anon nearly every day

Shona said...

Well Mr/Miss anon as that info would only be known by admin/mods on there I wonder whether you should send me or anyone else you are having a dig at a pm questioning why they go on as anon and also if you can point out where I say I go on rarely I'd be interested!

I say freely that I rarely post [look at your stats] and that AG is not my first port of call but I never say I don't go on and browse [which most folk do ... just in case]. I go on anon as I'm happy to be on quite quickly/quietly but I post my views openly which is the honest thing to do.[tho' I understand why some feel unable to after hounding/troubles have occured]. If you have problems with me or anyone else feel free to reply.

Corinne said...

My anon below Val - sorry for not replying, had thought that this comment thread had been laid to rest so hadn't noticed. I can't speak for anyone else but my point was definitely that there isn't anywhere where information can be definitively found out. It's more of a mish-mash, with people randomly finding things out through other outlets.

The next anon - you know the thing that I said about contempt for members? Thank you for providing another example. Firstly making your remark in the plural is incorrect [I commented on our anon troll at the top, but certainly don't have issues with anon comments - I could get rid of the function on here if I did - and I definitely do not go on AG anon. Because I, personally, don't feel the need to. But that doesn't make it any more right than someone who does chose to do so]. Secondly I think it's highly ethically wrong that someone's preference for going on site anon should be stated in a public manner. Supposing that you are part of the infrastructure at AG [and, since I have access to stats and ISPs, I have a good idea of who you are] there is surely some code of practice - if not actual then unspoken - which would prevent you from doing such a thing.