THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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The Tin Drummer (Blogpower Testimonial 6)

Link: The Tin Drummer.

Last July, a new blog began with these words.

The start of a new era; like everyone else in the world I have a blog.  Excellent.  I can satisfy my narcisstic longings, imagining that people are hanging on my every word when in fact no-one is bothered. The clouds are building up, looking heavy.  I wonder if there will be rain or if the promised break in the weather is to be delayed even further.  The dark low clouds are thin and hazy and look as if they have been stuck onto the sky with cheap 70s CSO.  Something bigger is building, and I suppose it might rain before I get to the pub. I've just re-read Atomised and Platform by Michel Houellebecq.  I still feel faintly sick, but I don't see him as either a genius or an evil reactionary.  I am not quite sure what he is saying (beyond the obvious bits of course); he seems troubled by space, in all its different forms, whether we have too much or too little or the right kind; he is obviously troubled by love, but I don't think his books show any good or ideal kind of love. his characters love and suffer or don't love and suffer or ambivalently relate in a sexual but sort of loving way - and suffer.  Someone should do a study on which characters (mostly minor) don't suffer in his work.

Why the long quote? To show this is no ordinary blogger. I didn't find TTD's blog until some months after this, but I think you will agree that the style - particularly the trademark lurch in subject matter - is arresting. Interestingly, it was there on day one, demonstrated in four posts that read as if they were in the midstream of a long-running blog - presumably one that had been running, unpublished, in his head.

This read like something the author confidently expected to be read, despite the upfront aversion of the bloggers' evil eye. I cringed at "(beyond the obvious bits of course)" I read Houellebecq too, and find little in his stuff that's "obvious". But I don't think this is the self-suspected narcissism. This is clearly a bright guy. He has something to say and he's not dithering about it. I infer from the developed style that he has long been saying it, in some medium or other.

On the third day of the Drummer's blogging career, Iain Dale linked. This cannot have harmed the stats although many coming from such a lightly-written blog as Iain's might find TTD hard going. I freely confess to some envy. Mr Dale linked to the Ditch for the first time yesterday - after almost two years of industrious blogging. But I have no cause for complaint. The Drummer deserved the rapid attention.

Part of the fun in these reviews has been to observe the development in style of the various bloggers. Where available, my technique has been to head for the first post in the archive and read as much of the writing as possible in the order it was written. TDD's style was fully-formed on day one. Nothing has changed. This blogger did not need to find his "voice" But what does he use that voice to speak about? Everything and nothing.

My cricketing grandfather would be disappointed to know how little the Drummer's "Ashes" posts move me. If a nation sells off its playing fields to build overpriced cardboard houses; carries its children around in 4x4 eggboxes and warns them of the perils of being too competitive, can it really expect to defeat honest sporting nations? It's hard to see why such an intellectual would give a damn. Nonetheless, there is a lot of cricket at the Drummer's blog. Fortunately, there are also politics, music, culture, history and (unfashionably) religion.

Most to my taste is the literary stuff. The reference to Grass in the blog name is actually what first caught my eye. Mine is a literary family and I am much criticised for neglecting my reading in order to blog. The pile of unread books at the bedside (placed there after being read by family members by way of silent recommendation) is now over three feet high. The Drummer has helped to persuade me on occasion to return to my books and for this, I thank him. He is prone to throwing in casual observations (in the course of announcing a holiday blogging break) such as

I find great swathes of my life hard to recall: I cannot remember my routines at school; what it was really like sitting in my room at college writing essays all day; actually being seven; but I do remember things as feelings (mainly fear), colours even, or through dreams. I can remember quite a few dreams from my childhood. I can't remember my grandfather's face very well, though he is often in my dreams, and I can't remember what Chartres really looks like (but I do remember how I felt when I first stepped inside). More and more I find I'm here but not quite sure how I got here.

All he booted up to tell us was that he was off for a while, but he ends up making us think anyway. I love stuff like that even though (damn it) it makes me realise how impersonal, cold and political my own writing can be. I admire the confidence implied in the apparently thoughtless invitation to the workings of his mind. I have to mention cricket once more, but only to say that only at The Tin Drummer could you enjoy the headline "How Polly might See Things (if she Liked Cricket)." Classic. By now, you will have detected my enthusiasm.

Enough reviewing already. Go read. And, of course, go listen to the Drummer promoting Blogpower on the wireless.

Next up: Not Saussure