Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Where You Were When You Were Young

Where You Were When You Were Young

I'm interrupting my planned Cardiff/ London blogs [yes, I do have more to say about Cardiff; I may be a non-stalker but Val and I did not spend 48 hours crying into our Jack and the Beanstalk programmes when there were cocktails to be had and Dr Who exhibits to see] just because this is my blog and I can therefore do what I like. I'd say Na-na-na but I want you to like me so I won't.

If I've recently blogged about my mental block when it comes to the word 'anonymous' then I should probably add to this why stats are not always a good thing. Over the past few weeks I've noticed an upsurge in hits coming from Oxford University servers. I quite like this [hello to any of you who might be reading this, I hope you're having a good Hilary term] and consequently hope I am not painting the post University crisis adventure too badly. What stressed me today though was that I received was that I received a google from a server that wasn't simply identified as being that of a particular college. This was an English Faculty server. An English Faculty domain that also contained the name of one of my former tutors. And - if that weren't enough to have me running around the room like a mad horror movie heroine - this was the name of the tutor who during my first year I blogged extensively about. No, I'm not linking you; I know when I should stop digging. Sometimes. Needless to say, though, you probably don't have to go too far to find evidence of Pipe Smoking Man should you so desire.

When I wrote my old online diary - at a time when I hadn't heard of the word 'blog' - I clearly felt much easier about painting with great brush strokes caricatures of people who didn't know about the existence of the blog. This was 2001 after all; the days before journalists cried the death of the critic because of the blogger, the days before there were plays about blogging; the days before Dooce got dooced. For many reasons - both big and small - they were also the days before I became the person I recognise now. Life then was smaller, more confined, easier to read. I was spikier, more prone to spilling my opinions [you might not believe it but now I do try and confine this to when they're merited or, at the least, when I'm drunk] as I felt my way into a new life. Consequently as I look back now I can't quite touch some of the emotions that I dashed in bright red and published on the internet. They seem alien, smaller...petty. And I wish that when I'd been constructing those stories from my life, building those characters, enjoying those readers, that I'd looked at some of the stuff that exists only in the subtext between those lines. I wish I'd blogged every night about how utterly glorious that first summer was. I wish I'd blogged how it smelt, how wonderful those parties were. How it felt to stand in the dressing rooms of the OFS Theatre for the first time, running up those spiral stairs that I remain eternally puzzled that I never fell down. I wish I'd blogged about falling in love, about eating ice cream in my kitchen and having extra strong coffee in Friends mugs.

Seeing the server name tonight made me think all of this, giving me the thrill of something I can't quite place. In real terms it doesn't matter what I might have said, or even if my mystery googler was the tutor concerned or not [and indeed why it might have been googled]. What can be done or said now? I have my degree, I no longer come under the realms of the University regulations [do they have a blogging code I wonder]. It is in the past. I was neither without blame nor entirely wrong. And - however acute it might have been at the time - I can look back and know that it arouses nothing any more. They are but words on a page, simply a page that can be googled and looked up for as long as it exists on the internet. If an apology is due then I unreservedly give it.

If that reader, whoever they might have been, pointed to my past then there was a hit from my myspace page that maybe points to my present. And am I happy for everything I put on here to be read today, now? And, if I look back in six years time what will I think?

As much as I strive for something I'm happy with, I don't want to realise I missed the real narrative.

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