Second Post First

I remember the first time I heard the word blog. It interested me linguistically as an abbreviation formed unusually by clipping off the first syllable rather than the last—different from prep, op, ad or pop. And I liked the way it seemed to park its caravan on a comfortably vacant spot in the common landscape of the English language, somewhere between blag and bog. Bling jangling within earshot like the sounding of the bells of a nearby village church.

I’m not sure how to go about starting a blog that is supposedly ‘mine’. Do I dump it down like a gypsy caravan on common ground or found it like a church? Do I christen it with some kind of ancient source of water? Do I put my own first or second name to it or cower behind a pseudonym? Is it some kind of glorified business card or just grubby subterfuge?

I am told that a blog is merely a structure of ones and zeroes, as a church is composed only of stones and mortar. What I choose to preach from the pulpit crafted of my assumed authority within this broader structure is apparently referred to as a ‘post’.


A post is a stick fixed in the ground keeping up a fence, protecting private property and defending the enclosure of common land… It is also a stage on the way in a long journey across unforgiving ground. An inn offering a night of welcome entertainment and shelter from the perils of the highwayman and the ruts in the mud track of the road…

By extension, the word came to be associated with the passage of sealed written communications conveyed by stage-coaches along a network of “post-offices” and, later still, by way of a return to its origins, with the erection of the poles that held up the wires conveying telegraphic messages…

Posts and poles; things fixed in the ground and linked with wires and energized by a natural human passion for communication… Our human version of trees, laden with content, seeded by the spread of words… Little Yggdrasils, keeping our Christian hopes up, while rooting us to an uprooted pagan past, like so many Christmas trees, languishing in pots. Baubles and chocolates danglingly weighing down the dying branches…


Tom Standage’s eye-opening book on the history of telegraphy, “The Victorian Internet,”  shows us how our contemporary world, in which we are all connected by ‘posts,’ is nothing entirely new. Sadly, the last great age of global interconnectivity came to an end with the outbreak of World War I. In this centenary year, that must give us sober pause for thought.

Barring some such global catastrophe, over the next few months, I shall be posting a number of reflections, mostly on language, linguistics and language teaching, poetry and politics and the intersection of the two, although I may sometimes broach other subjects further from my field of expertise. Some of these will be based on texts I produced many years ago, others will have been written on the spur of the moment.

Feel free to comment on my reflections, but try to keep your remarks kind and clean.