Time passes, and I'm living somewhere new. The drip of dripping taps to be fixed, the sunlight at different angles, the exploring, and slowly, the character of the new place and the relationship with it. The view. This town from another angle. The changing regular routes and the discoveries. Everything looks different from a few degrees out from where I was.
This internet connection after that internet connection. Some things don't change. Bitcoin price went down; now it's back up again. While it was down, there was a piece about banks getting together to attack the new "currency"; now that it's back up again, there's a piece about how it could disrupt the banking system. Swings, roundabouts, see-saws, winners, losers.
Turned up Facebook the other day, and for once, had an answer to the question, "What's on your mind?" It was the name of a local marketing-services consultancy. It occurred to me that I didn't quite know why I had the said outfit on the brain, but its name came immediately into my head when I looked at Facebook's question. So I wrote it down, along with a paragraph wondering why it had managed to get so firmly lodged between my ears.
I wasn't bothered. I probably do approximate to a target customer, so my knowing about them, and feeling vaguely friendly towards them, would count as a success in their terms, and that was fine by me. But how did they do it? I'm as resistant as the next man to the relentless, attention-seeking, faux-cheerful, white noise from social-media utilities and other users of the online-marketing playbook, so what was different this time?
I figured it out. Not difficult, and it was nothing special, but to me, the interesting part is that it depended on a context in which I hadn't noticed them. Yes - 'hadn't'.
There's a blog I follow. The subject lines come up on Facebook, I click on them, trigger cookies, read them. No, I don't subscribe to them. Just - whenever, on impulse.
I don't particularly notice who writes them. There isn't any of that "and by the way, have I mentioned the thing I'm trying to get you to buy?" stuff clumsily worked in. Just an interesting question, concisely answered.
Yes, of course they're put out by the marketing-services consultancy. And of course it's very simple, and you might think it obvious. The 'take-away' for me is the inverse correlation between the amount of self-promotion involved, and the impact of the self-promotion on me. Almost as if they were genuinely motivated to answer the question they were posing.
It always comes back to content. But maybe it comes back to content without 'ulterior' motive. In the sense: make it useful, and forget the clumsy hints.
I wonder where the romance has gone in the Scottish referendum. An argument for independence is that Scotland will be able to keep the British currency. An argument for union is that power will be devolved from London to Edinburgh. This is Scotland. Scotland. Clans. Loyalty. Burns Night. Bagpipes and pipers, Highland regiments, legends, feuds, that Australian actor in Braveheart. Haggis, Glamis Castle, grouse moors and lochs.
Scotland. Scotland. I'm English, but my children are half-Scottish. If I had a voice in this, I wouldn't want a squabble between politicians about currency units and tax-raising powers. I'd want everything that I celebrate when I celebrate my country.
We need airstrikes and they need to be "carefully targeted", said the retired general on the radio this morning.
Why "carefully targeted"?
On 4th May 2009, the US Air Force carried out the Granai airstrike, in which around 100 Afghan civilians were killed. “Apologising” afterwards, the USAF explained that “the inability to discern the presence of civilians and avoid and/or minimize accompanying collateral damage resulted in the unintended consequence of civilian casualties.”
So you see, carelessly targeted airstrikes just won't do.
Nor do airstrikes where you can't "discern" the civilians in the target area.
On 4th September 2009, ninety civilians were killed in the Kunduz airstrike.
On 9th October 2009, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The citation told us that Obama had “captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future.”
Obama accepted the award. “I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds,” he said in his acceptance lecture. “All responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.”
Embrace airstrikes responsibly, you civilians.
And hope for a better future.
If, after thirty years' absence, you come off the A12 at the A414, and drive eastwards towards Danbury, you will be struck by the quantity of trees. It's very green here, the wider roads and the flat horizon concealed by mostly young trees planted close in to the road. Even the familiar houses and landscapes concealed by the trees.
A one-word policy decision by the road-builders or the council: trees.
As if everything new is to be hidden by trees, with collateral concealment of the old not considered.
The Bell has a big italic B that wasn't there on its roof-line when it was just the pub, and there's a black turtle in the pond at Eve's Corner. The main road through is busy. But the yacht chandler is still there, The Griffin as well, and the church and churchyard haven't changed. Take one of the first lefts after you pass the village sign and state-of-the-art road maintenance ceases to be an issue within a few yards - the trees are old, the houses are visible behind their hedges, and the road surface has character.
Find your way to the main bridleway through Lingwood Common, and the new world asserts itself for just a moment - there's a sign bearing a lengthy explanation of what's being done to help nature along. But if these are the woods where you grew up, what you will really notice is that all the old ways, the secret paths and hiding places, are all still here. The head-high bracken has been mostly replaced by waist-high new trees, but if you were younger and smaller, you could push a tunnel through this foliage just as easily.
You had to be lifted into this tree once, to start climbing.