An open letter to a literary gatekeeper

Dear Robert McCrum,

With the greatest respect, you people are hopeless, you really are. I mean, firstly, you — for arguing complacently that some small cabal or mafia of the talented and lucky always dominates a country’s literary community: always has; always will. And I mean Philip Hensher, scolding the world for the, frankly, unlamented – except by other members of the club – death of newspaper book reviewing.

Of course you’re technically right, in the narrow terms you’ve chosen. But you’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope — and backwards. In the technological displacement that has us all talking to each other on these backlit typing slates, your justifications are quite simply irrelevant.

You and Philip H. write as if it’s ‘all about us.’ Actually, it’s all about all the people not you – and outside your little elect. What we’d far prefer to see, from you, is not defensive navel-gazing but a marvelling at the first chance in human history, for everyone else to have their thoughts read and appreciated by millions. . . I note that today, in the comments section of your blog, you finally mention that ‘one of the very good things about the IT revolution is that almost anyone can be a publisher these days,’ – but then why wasn’t this acknowledged in your post above the line?

Remember that this was the possibility honoured in the concept of the Fourth Estate recently discussed in this space. The same fabulous potential guided the work of the 20th century’s best-known editor-hero, Max Perkins.

Because of a generation gap, our most mentally agile literary scholar-philosopher, George Steinerwriting about the excitement of coming into contact, in New York, with sharp minds outside his branch of the literary establishment — doesn’t seem to realise that he could easily be describing the best debates in the blogosphere. Never mind that there isn’t a single mention of any form of the word blog in a passage claiming that he’s profoundly computer-illiterate – although PC, laptop, texting, Internet, processor and surfing are sprinkled into it gingerly. In an essay comparing élite educational traditions in Europe and the U.S., he says:

I have never had more demanding, original students than those in my evening classes at New York university. The multiracial mix around the table, of women and men from the most diverse social backgrounds, of both young and old, of the retired and of those in various professions, made for an implosive cast. The joy of discovery – ‘Dostoevsky is simply wonderful!’ – of intellectual and emotional surprise, the resistance to the merely official and magisterial, the raw vehemence of debate, illustrated the best of the American story. I would pitch some of these students and auditors against any elite. Even that which made a doctoral seminar at Stanford and certain tutorials at Cambridge occasions on which I learned far more than I could aspire to teach. Even when compared with my more or less continuous seminar in comparative literature and intellectual history over a quarter of a century at the university of Geneva or an unforgettable audience in Girona.

What’s interesting is that Steiner makes this point in a piece you can read as a lamentation for the collapse of literary and educational standards – for the dismal fact that for culture, egalitarianism has largely meant levelling down, not up.

But for this, he blames a literary and intellectual community kowtowing to commercial interests deeply uninterested in aesthetic or artistic excellence. He states unequivocally that the media have become pathetic slaves of mammon.

I have thrown out all newspaper recommendations of the ‘best books’ of the year 2008 as fast as my hands would let me. As my fellow bloggers point out ad nauseam, we are tired of following such advice, only to find that we’ve wasted our time on over-praised, shallow productions of someone in, or related to, your beloved élite. That’s another problem you haven’t addressed: in looking out for each other, you’ve failed to do your job as honest literary filters and encouragers of sparkling and original talent.

Please don’t try justifying this status quo ever again. Why don’t you and Philip Hensher start your own blogs, cross-link to some of ours, out here – and, like James Wood, start talking to us where we live in the ether, and not just from the kind of spot Americans call a ‘bully pulpit’?

Let’s talk about the issues that really need discussing, to save what’s left of literary culture. For instance: how can readers of literary fiction be linked to the books they are most likely to enjoy now that the consensus about what constitutes great writing has broken down, and no one country or culture can set the criteria? How can we replace the arrogant, inexperienced know-alls vetting non-fiction proposals in today’s book business, with a gatekeeping system that balances the inter-disciplinary insight and toil that lie behind most important new ideas with the trend for all forms of knowledge to get increasingly specialised and intricate? . . . How can we stop commerce from running literature and controlling the dissemination of ideas and facts?

My criticisms here aren’t remotely personal. You seem modest, affable and immensely likeable – from what I’ve read by and about you over the years. I admired the fine shading and subtlety in your recent profiles of V.S. Naipaul and Philip Roth. As for Philip Hensher, I actually recommended a couple of comments supporting him in arguments on the Guardian site about the last Booker prize. I couldn’t bring myself to write a post because the editors of that blog continue to ignore our complaints about being drowned in articles about literary prizes.

I assume that they find it cosy and comfortable to have their heads so close to their dainty ostrich feet.

With all good wishes,

wordnerd7.

Advertisements

24 Comments

Filed under Book publishing, Editors and editing, The blogosphere, The Guardian

24 responses to “An open letter to a literary gatekeeper

  1. elcalifornio

    you know, there was a Nation article recently about how Obama should restart the Federal Writers Project so that journos who’ve lost their jobs will have something to do…Is there a Culture/Arts equivalent to the Auto Industry bailout?

    I want to give McCrum some slack, though. Especially as he notes somewhere in his below-the-line comments that he’s interested in litblogs and that he’s new to this whole idea and that he’d like to hear more from us belowers (ahem). He’s trying, though perhaps only by piping the internet up to the tower.

  2. BaronCharlus

    Wordn,

    I’ve read this five times, now. And – considering our conversations over the last weeks – I find it a passionate, thorough and well-argued address.

    So it’s rather unimportant that I’m not convinced McCrum’s GU piece is as inflammatory as you state. Although am I right in inferring that it’s the sense of ‘complacency’ that’s riled you? Do you see this as tacit approval and – as you go on to say – a way of ‘justifying’ the current situation? Literary anecdote such as those McCrum uses can serve to make a situation seem natural, cosy even.

    But when you bash McCrum for claiming “some small cabal or mafia of the talented and lucky always dominates a country’s literary community,”

    isn’t this what you, too, are stating when you invoke

    ‘the arrogant, inexperienced know-alls vetting non-fiction proposals in today’s book business’?

    He seems to be, as you note, addressing debate issues below the line with thoughtfulness. For example, this had me intrigued:

    “With almost no research, I could do a chilling list of one book wonders from 1975-2005 that would make a sobering read.”

    I guess you’re saying that as long as the media remain “pathetic slaves of Mammon” that list and pieces like it will never appear above the line. In all, your call for more interaction and integration between ‘gatekeepers’ and the rest of us seems timely and (for the gatekeepers most of all, you seem to hint) necessary.

    As ever, quite happy to be put right if my reading’s gone awry!

  3. wordnerd7

    Dear @BaronC, as always, thank you so much for your careful answers. I don’t dare try to reply at the moment . . . back in a few hours . . .

  4. wordnerd7

    @BaronC, no one disagrees more kindly – or encouragingly – than you do. Sorry if I’ve been confusing. An attempt at detangling:

    === So it’s rather unimportant that I’m not convinced McCrum’s GU piece is as inflammatory as you state.===

    I suppose that this blog entry might have seemed a bit inflamed (astrologers, as unlikely as you are to believe their unspeakable twaddle, will tell you that fire is my element ; ) . . . ) . But it was only intended as a mildly humorous jeremiad – not even a Swiftian rant. . . Unless of course you can find any unconscious suggestions of the equivalent of ‘stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled’ children, served in a fricassee or ragout.

    === Although am I right in inferring that it’s the sense of ‘complacency’ that’s riled you? Do you see this as tacit approval and – as you go on to say – a way of ‘justifying’ the current situation? ===

    Yes, and . . .yes.

    === But when you bash McCrum for claiming “some small cabal or mafia of the talented and lucky always dominates a country’s literary community,” isn’t this what you, too, are stating when you invoke ‘the arrogant, inexperienced know-alls vetting non-fiction proposals in today’s book business’? ===

    No, not the same thing. I’m saying, _out_ with the cabal, something technology’s doing to it willy-nilly. . . The worst thing about today’s arrogant ignorant twits is that they don’t even know from literature – they are finance and marketing experts, . . . and there’s a bigger problem they are part of that you’ll see mentioned in extracts in my next post in this thread, for @elcalifornio.

  5. wordnerd7

    @elcal – you suggested,

    === I want to give McCrum some slack, though. Especially as he notes somewhere in his below-the-line comments that he’s interested in litblogs and that he’s new to this whole idea and that he’d like to hear more from us belowers (ahem). He’s trying, though perhaps only by piping the internet up to the tower. ===

    He actually did just that in an article three years ago. . . But that makes his missionary work on behalf of the small and mostly closed circle all the more irritating. The death of the old hierarchy isn’t just in writing on the wall . . . we’re all listening to the wall come crashing down, yes?. . . In the paragraph beginning, ‘Let’s talk about the issues that really need discussing, to save what’s left of literary culture’ . . . I’ve suggested where his attention might be focused in ways that might do the greatest good to the greatest number.

    In that paragraph, I’ve mentioned the breakdown of the old cultural consensus about literary merit. Rather than read Philip Hensher mourn the demise of newspaper reviewing, wouldn’t you rather see him address the points Sophie Gee, an assistant Princeton prof., made in reviewing the PH novel shortlisted for the Booker?

    I’d be ecstatic if we could shift the discussion from RMcC’s cliques – which are making for a rather boring ‘so last century!’ discussion on his GU blog this week, im(notso)ho. . . : ) . . .

    Two extracts:

    == Hensher’s mammoth literary homage raises questions about whether homage is the power play it once was. His use of certain structural echoes is impressive, but if the readers don’t get the references, how much sense do they make? Deciding to write like Dickens or Eliot rather than Christopher Paolini or Stephenie Meyer is no longer a no-brainer — because, unlike the times when Hensher’s realist predecessors were writing, these days, highly literary books are seldom big sellers. ===

    === it’s tremendously dull. Despite all the twists and turns (each beautifully set up and delivered), there are no surprises; this is a book that seems to have been written too many times already. Is it possible that literary prizes are a bit like the Fed’s bailout package, subsidizing a prose style invented to describe a world that stopped existing nearly a century ago? ===

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/books/review/Gee-t.html?pagewanted=print

    . . . I imagine that reading this review at the weekend made PH reconsider his paean to professional criticism — ??? (There’s a link to it in the first paragraph of my open letter.)

  6. BaronCharlus

    Wordn,

    This:

    “this blog entry might have seemed a bit inflamed (astrologers, as unlikely as you are to believe their unspeakable twaddle, will tell you that fire is my element ; ) . . . ) . But it was only intended as a mildly humorous jeremiad”

    Offers triple wonders. First, I did take your tone more seriously than you clearly intended. This pleases me. Humour (for me) illuminates and guides so much better than a poor temper (an insight I’m not always capable of sustaining in my own dealings, I confess).
    Second, for finally making me look up ‘jeremiad’.
    And third…

    Well, I’ll let this pome of mine from PP a few months back do the work:

    I once worked in a new age shop
    Near Seven Dials’ lode
    Where since the time of wigs and plague
    Astrology’s been know’d

    I learned of aspect, house and yod,
    Of sextile, node and trine
    Of element and retrograde
    The planets and the signs

    To customers I gave advice:
    “Whilst Uranus and Venus
    Are in conjunction you must try,
    To moderate your views on certain issues.”

    And in between the tourists I
    Met wizards, psychics, loons
    The reincarnate Poe and Dee
    And two Tutankhamoons.

    One day I started having doubts.
    I’d asked for lacking proof
    In tarot, reiki, all the Gods
    How could I stay aloof?

    But I had costs; rent, butter beans,
    The tax on fags was rising
    I’d also have to backtrack on
    My astro-sermonising

    A lapsed astrolger’s no catch
    For your average employer:
    “We need a transit forecast now
    More than we need a lawyer”.

    But I was left with clarity
    Of thought, faith in what’s known;
    Mistrust of cant and flummery
    I’m typically Virgoan

    Please edit this away, intended only as an ephemeral aside, if you feel it takes up too much space in the debate.

  7. BaronCharlus

    Re: the “breakdown of the old cultural consensus about literary merit”

    This ‘breakdown’ is, perhaps, what has allowed the marketeers to take over, rather than any integral, germinating greed. Perhaps this lack of consensus has created a vacuum of intent, as well as a “prose style invented to describe a world that stopped existing nearly a century ago”. If no one can agree on what is ‘good’ writing, on what criteria determine selection for publication, then the only defining factor left – the only provable one in the post-post-post-postness world – is financial. Is that what you’ve been saying all along?

    I find there is just too much new (and old) fiction to know what to read. And I certainly don’t take guidance from single reviews. They don’t help at all. So I support your point that we need ‘honest literary filters’.

    I’m a music obsessive and, for a long time having despaired at how to track down new music I like, I now cross section two or three different review sites, listen to MySpace and then, only then, might I buy a CD. So your vision of a blog network is a noble one, positive and negative reviews and debate webbing together.

  8. Hello Wordy,
    Just as an aside. I had seen your note in one of the comment boxes under Salvage Operation and left 2 comments in reply, which failed to show. I dropped you a note on the email addy listed on this site yesterday.
    I am in Kuala Lumpur and I’m not sure if this why. It shouldn’t be the case though. Maybe this little note will show up.
    Just to keep you updated.

  9. wordnerd7

    @BaronC,

    === If no one can agree on what is ‘good’ writing, on what criteria determine selection for publication, then the only defining factor left – the only provable one in the post-post-post-postness world – is financial. Is that what you’ve been saying all along? ===

    . . . in many a post at GU, over the months. . . Anyone would think that you, @elcal and I were the only comrades interested in this topic – but as for ……https://acacciatura.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/sex-in-the-literary-blogosphere/… a soaring click count makes a stunning contrast with the relative lack of comments. Must be a sign of topics seen by most visitors as too hot to handle . . . or ???? – my imagination has nothing else to offer.

    . . . Très grand merci — that’s such a beguiling poem that I predict that it won’t be too long before the GU Poster Pomes threadmeister announces an astrology or mystical blog . . . 😉 . Of course if we were all playing Scrabble here, I’d be trying not to glare at you as I said with a raised eyebrow, ‘_Yod._ Really?’ . . . There’s certainly no foolish consistency in this ending:

    === But I was left with clarity
    Of thought, faith in what’s known;
    Mistrust of cant and flummery
    I’m typically Virgoan ===

    @Suzan: did you find an email reply from me about your disappearing comments? I suggested that the server in Kuala Lumpur might be to blame, and that you’d have no trouble when you returned to Singapore – and seem to have guessed right, to my own amazement. . . Thank you for your patience and willingness to have another go.

  10. ISA

    Wordy – open the floodgates

    I have no idea what gender you are and if I have I have put it out of my mind. I love the fact that you appreciate other people and even when you bite, you do so cleanly.

    I really hope your blogsite is a success, I can see quite a few of us hang out there. Give it lots of time and a very interesting archive of stuff will start to appear. I think you and I agree that we (and other writers in this medium – some on your blog) have to have a lot of fun experimenting with this new medium.

    I can sense that you have a proper job and lots of committments that tug at you. What I wish is that someone would give you a bug lump of money to help you make a bigger splash with acciacciature, which is just as difficult as xuitlacoche to spell.

    Acciacciature already feels like home.

    And as for the “small cabal or mafia of the talented and lucky” as you put it. Yes there is pleasure in forming part of an elite, but aren’t the pleasures of the elite tangential and guilty.

    Collectors collect collectables and the collections they collect are collectable because they are collected by them.

    Isn’t this the true tautological logic of the and inbreeding self appointed and self gratifying literary elite.

    It is so because I say it is so. That’s the logic of the Literary gatekeepers.

    – But at that point we, in the new blogging medium, in good faith, come to the blogs to disagree

    – and the option not to print the aforsaid comments of readers and writers at large and to stop reviewing ears to all but the choicest and most sympathetic of responses disappears.

    No wonder reviewers don’t like the new blogging – interactive medium. It is far too robust for them.

    Was it you, Wordy, who said that with Ginsburg’s “Howl” the way of doing poetry changed forever. And yet there are still people who think the ability to rhyme is a defining characteristic of poetry.

  11. wordnerd7

    @ISA,

    I’m most pleased that comrades seem genuinely happy to have a home for comments treated unfairly by censors . . . And I can protest at length, here, on any subject I like with no fear of being snipped, and careen off-topic at will . . . Beyond these delights, I have no more idea of what I’m trying to do with this blog than when I’d once pick up a paintbrush and feel an inexplicable attraction to a pot of indigo or cadmium yellow paint and a thrill of anything-is-possible as I opened it . . . I can tell from Xuitlacoche — expanding furiously as you set down your own memories and dust off some most unusual treasures from the parental attic – that you know exactly what I mean.

    . . . You must also know by now that I hide from munificent praise or encouragement, and it’s taken some effort to force myself to come out to say _thank you_ . . . concentrating fiercely on the potential for the ideal epitaph here:

    === even when you bite, you do so cleanly. ===

    . . . (here lies wordy the hygienic vampire) . . .

    Thank goodness there’s a recent record of our being _seriously_ at loggerheads or people could mistake this for an exchange of gooey mmwah-mmwahs. . .

    You’re a natural aphorist:

    === Collectors collect collectables and the collections they collect are collectable because they are collected by them. ===

    Yes indeed: have you read Larry McMurtry’s riotous Cadillac Jack on the subject? . . . and this also couldn’t be more true:

    === Isn’t this the true tautological logic of the and inbreeding self appointed and self gratifying literary elite.

    It is so because I say it is so. That’s the logic of the Literary gatekeepers. ===

    . . . So what fascinates me is why so many people, even now, seem content for all that to continue. See the comments on the McCrum piece. I read many all but paralysed with horror at such meek acceptance of being told what to think.

    . . . No, it couldn’t have been me saying that about Howl. Don’t know enough about Ginsburg — rhyming done ingeniously is delicious; . . . It’s rhythm, though, that I’m always looking for in poetry — particularly when it’s not too obvious . . . hiding in plain sight, as it were.

  12. Hi Wordy,

    Back in Singapore now!
    No, no email replies in my mailbox either.
    I have been following McCrum’s articles for years & I do like what I know of him but these from general terms and with no reference to what you have pointed out here. However, it’s difficult to comment as I’m frequently on the move. In that sense, I haven’t been much help.
    In a few days, I’ll be in the African continent somewhere – and I’ll be there for a couple of weeks at least.. When I’ve settled down, I’ll be able to focus somewhat calmly on some of these wonderful topics.

    regards
    PS I agree with all that ISA has said. Your blog is one very good thing to look forward to, in the New Year.

  13. wordnerd7

    @Suzan . . . it’s still a treat to read you from all these places you touch down in. Reminds me of my stamp-collecting days, when a postcard saying just ‘How are you?’ from Uruguay or Mongolia could make me turn cartwheels for joy.

    I can’t comment on your blog when you are in Malaysia, .,.. just don’t know enough about the country. . . and I haven’t found the peaceful stretch I need to shut out the world to get into the Samarasan book.

    Now here’s a declaration of incompetence: I have just found your Kuala Lumpur posts — where I never thought to look before — in Spam. . . No other comments have ever ended up there, only gobbledygook like pings, or announcements of deranged advertisers linking to this site. . . So be careful about agreeing with @ISA, please: I’d want someone skilled in the basics of blogging before I looked forward to being on a blog in 2009. : ( . . . Anyway, I’m on my way to liberate those posts — for the virtual stamp album.

  14. BaronCharlus

    Wordn,

    Was watching a documentary about Vasari (him again) last night and noted a comment about the period he worked in. The presenter (Andrew Graham-Dixon) was suggesting that Vasari’s ‘Lives’ was an idealised looking-back on the author’s part to a time when artists were given more string-free funding and freedom to express new ideas. By Vasari’s time the counter-reformation had created an atmosphere of strict dogma and orthodoxy.

    It occurred to me that – regardless of the historical veracity of Graham-Dixon’s interpretation, which I am too ignorant to defend or counter – you might find in this anecdote a parallel to your vision of a publishing industry compromised by commerce; the marketeers serving the role of a newly-protectionist Catholic church. Re my post over on the creative/tribal debate: when the balance swings too far in the favour of one of two opposing forces, there’s trouble.

    ps

    A Yod is an astrological configuration created when one planet forms quincunxes (150° aspects) to two planets separated by a sextile (60° aspect). As you’ll find with lapsed Catholics, even when the belief departs the knowledge/trigger-responses related to certain systems don’t.

  15. Suzan Abrams

    Wordy,
    where you said: . . . So be careful about agreeing with @ISA, please: I’d want someone skilled in the basics of blogging before I looked forward to being on a blog in 2009. : ( .

    *****

    Please feel free to delete what I said of ISA and all the rest of it.

  16. wordnerd7

    Dear, dear @Suzan, . . . most of a day has gone by since my last look at the blog and what do I find? The one thing I don’t like at all about this medium — the potential for being misunderstood by people I’m fond of.

    It’s my incompetent self who is being lashed here:

    === . So be careful about agreeing with @ISA, please: I’d want someone skilled in the basics of blogging before I looked forward to being on a blog in 2009. : ( . ===

    I meant that if I were you, someone kind enough to go to the trouble of posting from KL for someone like me — too dim to think of looking for the missing posts in the spam queue, I might be thoroughly exasperated. . . It was an oblique apology . . . I should have said, simply, Suzan, I am so sorry for failing to rescue your posts sooner. . . Will you please forgive me?

    I’ve looked at the post again and am puzzled by why my mention of cartwheels and exotic stamps didn’t make it clear how pleased I was to hear from you .. . Must try to use more smilies . . .

    . . . @alarming, what you said about them describes my own original reaction. But cynicalsteve and liberaldogooder had an emoticon contest/fest in one of Des’s blogging experiments and I got over it. I think aversion therapy is supposed to work the same way — for people scared of mice, driving across bridges, ….. who have claustrophobia, etc.

    And on a lighter note. . . for anyone who can stand Elvis singing Blue Christmas (which borders on emetic for some of us) . . . here’s a chance for a clever media-mixing experiment:

    === Want to record a duet with Elvis?
    Post Source: perezrevenge.com
    Posted: Dec 20 2008 02:33:41

    Elvis is singing new duets from with millions of fans who can log online to record a track with the late singer. The new website SingWithTheKing.com allows fans to re-record country singer Martina McBride’s part from the track she dubbed with Elvis Presley, Blue Christmas, from The Elvis Presley Christmas Duets album. The site provides a phone number and access code so people can sing thei.. ===

    I think you’re supposed to be able to email an audio clip of yourself singing with the Memphis blimp as a Christmas e-greeting.

  17. wordnerd7

    === you might find in this anecdote a parallel to your vision of a publishing industry compromised by commerce; the marketeers serving the role of a newly-protectionist Catholic church. ===

    Thanks, @BaronC, this reminds me of our discussion of who controlled publishing before the spreadsheet crowd did — on, I think, the blog about newspapers not being mercantalist tools . . . The dissemination of ideas always threatens the powerful, doesn’t it . . . I’d love to have seen that Vasari documentary.

  18. wordnerd7

    In-between, in the Middle Ages, the universities controlled publishing — and in certain parts of Europe insisted that the ‘booksellers’ keep prices low for students and faculty members, though they were free to charge the general public any price they pleased. . . Of course there weren’t too many who could read, at the time. . . But you are right, . . . different people had too much say about what got published at different times . . .

    Am thinking and posting in fragments, amid much else, so please forgive pea-brained replies . . . have to pack to travel a few hundred miles later today. Woe betide the person who forgets the sprigs of tarragon, . . .the basil, . . . double cream . . . rocket . . . or brandy essential to some recipe, where I’m going, for there’s none to be had .. . So, am feeling ridiculously pressured by what is really utterly shamefully trivial.

  19. Suzan Abrams

    Very sorry for the misunderstanding, Wordy.
    I’m also not very good with emoticons, I’m afraid. I don’t always understand them and have to check up on definitions.
    About the KL posts
    There’s nothing essential in what I wrote anyway..
    What would have happened was that the particular computer I had located at a bookshop would have stored no cookies. So those specific comments went amiss.
    But you are right. I have been writing between hurried snatches of time and now once again at the airport. I only afford this sort of thing to those I care about.
    Seasons greetings and a safe journey

    warmest regards

  20. Suzan Abrams

    Once more, I’m really sorry, Wordy.

  21. wordnerd7

    @Suzan. Think of what they say in one of your countries: no worries! . . . and there never was any reason for you to fret . . . I hope that you’ve reached your next perch safely and that it’s everything you hoped it would be. : )

    Sorry I’ve been so slow replying.

  22. Wordy, that would be Australia. 🙂
    Des has been feeling the blues since I left which may explain his silence here.
    I’ve decided (at the last minute) to fly back to Dublin to spend the New Year with him and proceed on to Africa mid-Jan.

  23. wordnerd7

    === Des has been feeling the blues since I left which may explain his silence here. ===

    Yes, I guessed as much. I’m sure he’s feeling more cheerful, after your change of plans . . . have missed having him here, particularly after his sage advice about proper gender-neutral comportment. 😉

  24. Indeed, you are right on all counts, Wordy. Will have a chat with Des when I see him. I had also observed with a slight shock, his latest blog post once I had confirmed my Dublin flight. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s