So there you have it. Who’d have thought? Alfred B. Mittington has started a BLOG.
I must admit, dear reader, that it was not my own idea. I was born when the telephone was a rarity, something which rich people used because – let me tell you about them - they were different. When television was no more than a distant imagination in the mind of mad professors of the Frankenstein type. When the notion of men walking on the moon involved steam locomotives shot into space by supercannon… In short: digital gadgets are not my thing.
No, it was Hannibal, my godson from down the hill, who suggested the idea. One afternoon, when he came by and settled in my kitchen so as to avoid parental scrutiny (Igor and Vera, his parents, want him to do his homework, and that is no longer considered fashionable among the young…), and I had just begun to explain to him (admittedly at some length) the real reasons why Napoleon lost that scuffle at Waterloo, he looked up, pursed his lips, and said:
‘Dedushka’, (he always calls me granddaddy in his parent´s tongue…), ‘Dedushka, all those wonderful, witty words of wisdom that you delight us with every day… You really ought to share them with the rest of the world, you know? You ought to put them on the internet, for all to see…’
Now, I had heard of the internet. But so far, I had not yet heard what it is good for. So I asked him why. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘If folks want to partake of the Mittington wisdom, they can dig up my old books, right? All they need to do is to replace Berlin with Ankara, and Soviet Union with European Union, and Apocalypse with IMF, and then they gain all the bleeding wisdom they ever need to grasp mankind’s present plights!’
‘A book? What’s a book?’ he asked mystified. When I showed him a sample (Zweig’s Chess Novel so as not to scare him… Although I admit I’d rather have tossed The Idiot into his lap!) he nodded. He had heard of these things in history class. And then he shook his head vehemently.
‘That’s not how it works, granddad,’ he disagreed. ‘You gotta renew, see? Old wine must be served from new bottles these days. Like Liz Taylor. She couldn’t have pulled off so many comebacks either if she had always worn that Cleopatra outfit. No: you gotta start a blog!’
It was roughly at this moment (okay, okay: some fifteen minutes into his explanation of what a blog is) that his big sister Ivana hacked her way through my crop of Dutch Boorenkool in the kitchen garden (we’ll get to Boorenkool in the future culinary section) so as to reach sanctuary from parental scrutiny without any of the villagers noting her movements. On hearing of the plan, she wholeheartedly agreed with her brother as to the need for me to share my thoughts with the rest of humanity instead of with the two of them alone. But she disagreed as to the instrument.
‘Blogs are dumb and slow!’ she exclaimed in – unsurprisingly– total disagreement to her sibling. ‘What you ought to do instead, Dedushka,’ (she also calls me Dedu-- … oh, never mind!) she told me, ‘is to twitter.’
‘Oh for crying out loud!’ I exclaimed. ‘Twitter? What’s Twitter again?’
She hesitated for a moment. Then she explained, carefully picking the words an ordinary mortal might understand: ‘It’s… well… like a blog. Only you write something using no more than 140 characters.’
I heard Hannibal sniff in contempt. But – if the truth be told – the idea appealed to me, and his objections only strengthened my resolve. When, it passed through my head, was Alfred B. Mittington ever shy of work? I would show the little bugger! So that evening I poured myself a generous Ginginha (which we’ll get to in the future gastronomical section). I put on a record of that marvellous soprano Miss Carmina Burana. I got a fresh ream of paper and filled up the old fountain pen. And I wrote out a plan de champagne for my Twitter Account, which I proudly showed to the two of them next afternoon.
They looked at it. Then they made big eyes. And then the two bloody brats burst out laughing like I had never heard them laugh before. I just sat there wondering what the matter was. For my outline was absolutely brilliant, just like most of the things I write.
Some ten minutes later, Ivana finally caught her breath and half-spoke, half-hickupped at me: ‘Not 140 characters as in people, you old sod! 140 letters! Signs! Of the alphabet!’
Dear reader, I admit I was dumbstruck. Here I had a work of fiction nearly ready to Twitter into the world, with a plot and a setting and a cast of characters ready to make old Lev Tolstoy die of envy, and the two of them told me I could only use 140 bleeding signs?? Whoever heard of such a thing? What thoughts worthy of the name can a thinking Homo Sapiens possibly express in 140 letters?!
I will spare you the further details of my humiliation. The three of us spoke about it. I protested that any writer worth his salt can not possibly formulate anything vaguely worthy of his intellect in 140 keyboard touches. They laughed some more, but they understood my ‘antediluvian dilemma’. And so Ivana gave in, and we decided that a blog it would be, provided that the two of them would take care of the technicalities.
So there you have it. Alfred B. Mittington has started a BLOG. Very much in spite of himself…
We will see where it takes us. I cannot yet tell. I guess there will be political analysis, and jokes, and pictures and recipes and what not. Will it be a huge success? Will it, once again, raise me unto the shoulders of a jubilant audience, whose most gorgeous damsels extent laurel crowns onto my brow, whispering things like: Remember you are only a demi-god? We shall see, dear reader. We shall see. For now I can only be modest, and remind you, in conclusion, of that most profound saying of the wisest of men:
‘He who performs before an audience of Zen Masters
should not expect a roaring applause…’
(Which, incidentally, is only 92 characters. Maybe I ought to have twittered it!)
Yours, most truly,
Alfred B. Mittington