A belated return to my blog

by The Curious Scribbler

Who writes a blog when there's a baby to play with?

Who writes a blog when there’s a baby to play with?

Where have I been and what have I been doing since mid November, my regular readers may well ask?   Well nothing really out of the ordinary: a very busy Christmas with the house bursting with guests, a daughter moving house to Bristol, an enchanting one year old grandchild to play with, a nasty bronchial cold, and the fallout from the collapse of a fellow local historian’s book on the very brink of its publication by a small Trust.  This last event occurred as if in illustration of an article by Matthew Parris in the Spectator entitled “Why are volunteers so mean to one another?”  Parris wrote ” What is it about voluntarism, what is it about organisations composed of public spirited people giving of their own time and money for some purpose larger and nobler than themselves, that breeds the poisonous atmosphere that so often chokes their deliberations?” .  In an attempt to answer this question he posits a new explanation.  When people ‘give up their own free time’  for no remuneration, they become very difficult to command. Volunteers consider themselves released from the usual rules of the workplace.  In the case in question, a volunteer steering committee, having engaged a volunteer author, decided, two years later, that they wanted a different book.  Had the publication been driven for profit, the outcome might have been very different. As Parris remarks – the pursuit of principle is an infinitely more corrupting thing.

My own last regular printed output has also come to an end in January  but it was a bloodless end, the death of the magazine Cambria came because it simply could not afford to continue without Welsh Books Council grant aid.  And committees  don’t wish to fund ‘more of the same’ indefinitely.  Cambria has existed for 18 years and for most of them I have been its garden correspondent.  It seldom could afford to pay me, but I was rewarded in other ways;  my copy was never hacked about by an insensitive editor, my pictures were reproduced handsomely, my picture captions emerged correct.  These are virtues which cannot be taken for granted in the world of magazines.  The choice of topics was invariably mine, and my final piece was an account of a visit to the immaculately restored and recreated Allt-y-bela.  The story had first appeared on this blog, in July 2014.  As a final bonus, the magazine has long enjoyed a special status in the catalogues of the National Library of Wales.  So for every article in Cambria, I have been awarded an author-indexed entry in their catalogue, as I would be for articles in more heavy-duty scholarly publications about Wales.

The last issues of Cambria magazine

The last issues of Cambria magazine

But blogs too may earn their immortality and I was gratified to be asked by the NLW for permission to copy and index my blogs relating to the remarkable sculpture by Mario Rutelli on the Aberystwyth war memorial.  This topic continues to develop, leading blog readers to make the pilgrimage to Via Quattro Fontane in Rome to verify the identity of the original bronze, and report back their findings.  Keeping a foot in both the electronic and the printed camps, I propose to write up the story of Aberystwyth’s ‘Humanity emerging from the Horrors of War’ for a printed journal this year.

Letter from Aberystwyth will continue, for the most part as a vehicle for overlooked or long forgotten fragments of our local history.

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The Trials of Spam

by The Curious Scribbler

As a blogger it is really exciting to get a reply or  email from a real reader adding to a story, like Tone’s account of how the Welsh Nationalist students  tried to sever the bronze head of the first Vice Chancellor of the University because he was an English king ( albeit briefly)  Edward VIII.  Or Kate’s link to Robert Parnall  of Llanstephan,  one of her ancestors in Carmarthenshire. Or indeed nice comments from people with nothing to sell.

But there is a blight upon bloggers which makes one foam at the mouth.  The parasites, trying to get publicity for their dodgy merchandising sites, too idle or illiterate even to write a relevant sentence as a vehicle to which to attach the website address of their wares.

Some send in a generic comment which appears badly written but superficially flattering:

You made some decent points there. I looked on the net for the problem and discovered most individuals will go along with your site.
You have a terrific blog here! would you like to create some invite posts on my blog?


Nice post. I find out something more difficult on unique blogs everyday. It’s going to often be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice just a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog no matter whether you do not mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web weblog. Thanks for sharing.

These were both in response to the post ‘What is a Lhasa Apso?’ A bit odd, but believable, until you realise the correspondent is actually peddling a link selling American football jerseys!

A regular offender wants you to buy cheap Ugg boots in the USA and Argentina:

This seriously answered my issue, thank you!

I discovered your weblog web-site on google and check some of your early posts. Continue to maintain up the extremely great operation. 

Time and again I consign this author to trash.

Or having read about the Aberystwyth war memorial another ‘reader’ replies

I enjoy these black a pair of glasses. These are generally safe and sound, fancy and superb simultaneously. They provide an extremely contemporary look at and travelling within a comfy daytime it is a good selection. fake oakleys

Possibly the fake branded sunglasses are so black the author can neither read nor write!

And in the complete gibberish category comes this:

Stay above clothes. I would say some sort of added benefits of perhaps may be two-Flip the; You’ll not be be trying late deal for garments to pack it and you could not be posting mafia among solely 1 set of training pants resulting in nil stockings.


You will not even need to take moth golf tennis baseprojectiles of keeping pestilence removed from your material, Several portable content since the event could be gives people like and/or snaps. When you purchase fluids above the protection gate, You should bring regarding on the airplane.

Both of which comments would give links to Louis Vuitton Bags  and Emporio Armani Watch Mall.

Less easy to spot was Phillip, who wrote

Your post, 1807 entry pass for David Lewis | Letter from Aberystwyth, is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards from Phillip!

Who wouldn’t experience a momentary warm glow?  But to approve this comment would furnish my readers with nine links to American social networking, job seeking, brand buying, property selling and joke purveying sites.  Nine of them in all.  Phillip, I will survive without your fake praise!

Why do they keep on sending this nonsense, when it never reaches the readership?  Surely they understand that the author of a blog can approve, or reject any comment?  What the author cannot do is to expurgate their comment and remove the marketing content.  But I can clip out their comments and republish them in my own blog, for the enjoyment of those who would wish to remind themselves how many fools there are in the digital world. And I have found in the dross a valuable expression  –  a single phrase from the multitude which describes exactly what I am doing – “keeping pestilence removed from my material.”


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