The Worldwide Weblog of Donald Pincher

The private journal of an aspiring author | 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 finding 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

Saturday, 19th April 2014

When I use the phrase I’m writing a novel it’s often received with an expression of sceptical pity, because more people say they’re writing a novel than finish one. But at least the present participle writing gestures weakly at a hope-for time when the tense will be past and the job will be done. It occurs to me that probably the only phrase that could solicit more scepticism and pity is I write a blog, where the infinitive verb implies for how long the tree is going to continue to fall in the forest with no one at hand to hear it. (To infinity.)

Friday, 18th April 2014

‘If any man serve me, let him #FF me’ (John 12:26) #GoodFriday.

Thursday, 17th April 2014

It occurs to me that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an insensitive name, because there’s nothing its sufferers struggle with more than disorder. It’s like childhood-onset inattentiveness being renamed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Lookoverthere!

Wednesday, 16th April 2014

The OED’s earliest recorded use of the phrase newspaper of record comes from the New York Times of 26th October 1924:

The New York Times is the newspaper of record. There is no newspaper in the United States that is preserved in so many places.

Where a source is preserved is one way of viewing the revolutionary effect of the internet: no single publication can claim the authority of being de recordo when everything is essentially preserved in the same virtual “place”. (I assume this is why I have never heard the phrase blog of record.) And as to the actual places – data centres – on the whole we neither know nor care where they are.

Tuesday, 15th April 2014

In medias res, adj.

Pronunciation: /ɪn miːdɪas reɪz/
Etymology: < Latin ‘in the middle of things’.

1. Of a (usu. young) job hunter: eager to gain paid work in new media.
2. Of a (usu. old) job holder: eager to keep paid work in old media.

Monday, 14th April 2014

First Great Western’s new advert reads,

Network Rail’s £7.5 billion is the biggest investment in our rail network since it was first built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Like the great man we have an unwavering desire…

How honest of Worst Group to openly admit that we cannot rely on private companies like them to make necessary investments in infrastructure. The train operating companies have an unwavering desire alright, which is why public services ultimately depend on, er, public ownership of organisations like Network Rail. I’d like to see more of this kind of candour: an advert for Ford singing the praises of the Highways Agency, for example; or tart cards trumpeting the former General Post Office.

Sunday, 13th April 2014

Real IRA, n.

Pronunciation: /rɪəl aɪ ɑː eɪ/
Etymology: < real adj. + IRA n. (Irish Republican Army)

Formed by members of the Provisional IRA who did not assent to the Northern Irish peace process of the 1990s. Don’t cf. folk etymologies of real tennis n.

Saturday, 12th April 2014

Listening to the podcast of Thursday’s In Our Time (“Strabo’s Geographica”) I am delighted to hear that rarest of things: a political comment from Melvyn Bragg, whose old-school impartiality is ordinarily so unshakeable. The following exchange took place in the podcast’s bonus, off-air material:

Maria Pretzler: Some of these large works are called ‘library’. Like Diodorus’s Library of History, it is a library. It would fill this wall. [...]
Melvyn Bragg: How broad’s the wall? […] Just bigger than your average prison cell, isn’t it?

Here’s hoping the Justice Secretary isn’t a podcast fan.

Friday, 11th April 2014

Ex post, adj.

Pronunciation: /ɛks pəʊst/
Etymology: Perhaps shortened < ex postfacto adv. lit. ‘from what is done afterwards’.

1. Based on or determined by actual results, rather than expectations; calculated retrospectively.
2. (Hence also, by extension) ex-post n. a misjudged, deleted tweet.

Thursday, 10th April 2014

Washing up, n.

Pronunciation: /wɒʃɪŋ ʌp/
Etymology: < washing n. + up adv.

A job that won’t do itself if left. Contrast drying up n.


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