The Worldwide Weblog of Donald Pincher

Blogged prose fiction by Joshua Gaskell


I am the WEBMASTER, and it is I that will be presenting to you, READER, the private journal of Donald Pincher, aspiring author. How I came to be possessed of it is no concern of yours. And in any case, if I did go about to tell you by what accident I obtained covert access to the file, it would in this unbelieving age pass for little more than the cant or jargon of the blogosphere. Suffice to say that he types Journal.doc on his computer (Windows ME) and, in his careless cyber-luddism, has left open a pathway vulnerable to exploitation by those of us who know the ways of data capture.
Pincher is a pious, small-c-conservative young fogey of the leftmost wing. He lives unfashionably in the London district of Forest Hill SE23, and devotes his life to writing entries in his Oxford Urban Dictionary, trying to find someone willing to publish his novel – five-hundred pages of relentless socialist manifesto masquerading as literature – and to being fruitlessly apoplectic about the price of things in the capital. A privacy obsessive, much of his novel consists of (in equal measure) decrying the dangers of the internet age, and mocking its pretentions. Which is why I thought it would be funny for him to write his own blog, even if it is one that he doesn’t know he’s writing.
Though the automatic-upload macro I’ve attached to Pincher’s journal makes me something of a deistical Prime Mover, I will occasionally deign to intervene in ‘the cool of the day’ (to footnote, to hyperlink, to tag, or otherwise curate). To this end you will know me by my dark-blue font.
Without further ado, I present to you what I’ve chosen to dub, in the idiom of its unwitting BLOGGER, The Worldwide Weblog of Donald Pincher

Friday, 28th November 2014

If I never hear one again, I won’t miss the announcements on the tube that say, ‘Customer service update: there is a good service on all London Underground lines.’ For a start, they invent a real problem by seeking to remedy one that doesn’t exist: if there are no closures or delays then no announcement is necessary – an update in this sense must contain ‘New information received or supplied’ (OED) – unless of course contentless good-news “updates” have been normalised, meaning that people start to worry if they haven’t heard one.

I’ve said before that customer is not the best word to describe a person on a train. By the same token, customer service is the ‘assistance and advice provided by a company’ (COD); and as company-like as these vacuous boasts may be, London Underground remains a wholly-owned subsidiary of Transport for London, itself an arm of local government. Local government does not (or ought not) issue customer service updates.

Thursday, 27th November 2014

The World Wide Web was apparently invented by an Englishman (sounds about right), so why is so much of the language of the Web American English? I propose the following changes:

  • An app store should be an app shop
  • The back end should be the rear end
  • Cookies should be biscuits
  • Email should be epost (and one’s mailbox one’s postbox)
  • A firewall is a partition wall
  • One’s inbox is one’s intray (ditto outtray)
  • And finally, just for the sake of accuracy, the Trojan Horse was in fact a Greek Mare

Wednesday, 26th November 2014

An urgent message to writers of continuity announcements: before and after a comedy programme, ‘the maintenance of a continuous sequence in broadcasting’ (OED) need not extend to the announcer cringingly joining in with the jokes. In fact, if the programme in question is any good, their doing so will usually result in a bald instance of discontinuity: that between laughter and its absence.

Tuesday, 25th November 2014

Ukip, int.

Pronunciation: /juːkɪp/
Etymology: < phonet. substitution of you for u + abbrev. of Kiplingite n. an admirer of (Rudyard) Kipling. It has also been suggested that this word began life as an acronym of United Kingdom Independence Party, although this is probably a later rationalisation.

= ‘You Kiplingite!’ implying that the addressee is a trumpet of Empire.


N.B. ‘Kipling is often thought of primarily as the trumpet of empire, but his writings were more varied than that suggests and he was far from triumphalist in tone’ (The Oxford Companion to British History).

Monday, 24th November 2014

On, prep.

Pronunciation: /ɒn/
Etymology: Cognate with Old Saxon an < the same Indo-European base as ancient Greek ἀνά on.

colloq. (orig. but no longer chiefly U.S.)

1. Addicted to or under the influence of (a drug or drugs). In phr. on drugs: taking drugs regularly or habitually, esp. for their stimulant or narcotic effects.
2. Hence, by extension, addicted to or under the influence of (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). In phrs. on Twitter, on Facebook, etc.: using those social media regularly or habitually, esp. for their procrastinative or idleful effects.


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