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Dear Bob by Annie Porthouse

Dear Bob

by Annie Porthouse

Giveaway ends September 10, 2012.

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Facebook — the root of all evil?

Much has been said about the dangers of Facebook. We’ll stop meeting people in person. We’ll loose our people skills. We’ll get cancer due to decrease in activity (an article in the Mail I read online just now when I googled ‘Facebook’!). Facebook will send us all to an early grave, so they say.

But I think it’s cool. I struggle to see that the time I spend on it is time I would otherwise have been meeting people in ‘real life’. I meet a lot of people in real life, a lot of time time… work, family, friends, church, various committees and suchlike… people people everywhere! And from what I can see from many of my friends on Facebook, they lead similar lives; teachers, vicars, youthworkers, publishers, students… none of these are staying in 24/7 to stare at the screen, immersing themselves with the oh-so-dangerous virtual world that is… Facebook.

Ah, now, I ought to ‘fess up’, now we’ve got onto the actual topic of ‘Facebook friends’. When I first signed up (or signed my life away, depending on your view) I laughed in the face of those who had 200 or even 300 and something friends (not that they could see or hear me laughing, such is the beauty of the system). That would never happen to me. MY Facebook account was to be for real friends; people I actually knew. Not just random anyones. Oh no.

But here’s the thing – I currently have… (just got to log in and check…) a grand total of 305 friends. That said, I can proclaim quite confidently that I know each and every one of them. Old school or church friends, current work and church friends, old work friends, my kids friends’ parents… you get the picture. The only exception to this is a small handful of teenage/student girls who read my books and then applied to be my friend… well, I don’t have many fans, so there’s no way I’m going to reject these discerning lasses!

Granted, some people may well spend their whole lives on Facebook, barely coming up for air, talking to random people, playing silly games, etc. But can’t the same be said for almost anything: computer games, reading, TV… there are many obsessions that aren’t exactly beneficial or healthy – we all know that. On the whole, the people (all 305 of them) that I see using Facebook are just happy to be keeping in touch with those they wouldn’t otherwise be in touch with. Likewise, they enjoy making comments on their work mates holiday snaps, or mate down the roads photos of their newborn baby. It’s personal. It’s accessible. It’s free!

For me, the best bit has been connecting with members of my wider family. We’re not really in touch via phone/email, on the whole. But now I’ve found some of my cousins on Facebook and some of my husband’s… there’s no stopping us! We’re suddenly more in touch than ever, which feels great. This morning, not only did I learn that my cousin’s daughter had got into Cardiff University (based on her A’Level results) I could view her celebratory photos AND I was able to congratulate her, instantly! If it weren’t for Facebook, I would never have known. A minor example, I guess, but it works for me.

The ability to put photos on my page, and let others see our holiday snaps, or day trips, or birthdays, etc, really is the highlight for me. Friends now say “Oh, I see you had a great time in…(wherever)” and I know that they’ve shared that part of my life with me. It would have been highly unlikely that I’d have brought photos into work and showed certain colleagues, but those on Facebook are now that much closer to ‘me’ and I like that. I can see that some wouldn’t, but then that’s why all those privacy bits are in place.

Yes, I’ve graduated from only going on Facebook when I had an email alerting me to a message or similar, to logging on most days, just to see what’s ‘going down’. So shoot me (seeing as I’m destined to die young due to my daily Facebook useage anyway). I’ve also recently sussed out how to organise my ‘friends’ and ‘hide’ certain people, so that on my ‘news feed’ I only read about those people I… errrr… am actually interested in. Which sounds mean, but it’s the only way I can see, at a glance, what’s going on in the lives of those I’m closest to.
And no one, but no one, is close to 305 people.

Any further, and preferably more ground-breaking, Facebook thoughts gratefully received.

Burns Night

Went to a tartan-tastic Burns Night – our first one ever!
My mission was to tackle the ‘Reply from the Lassies’ speech, and here is my attempt.
Writing and delivering it turned out to be far less stressful than determining what to wear (ended up buying a strip of tartan material and making a sash-like thing, which makes me sound like an accomplished seamstress, which is a lie as I used the iron-on hemming stuff that I use for the kids’ school trousers’ hems.)

Reply from the lassies

As I start my speech this evening
I fear that my reply
May cause some consternation
I hope though, no outcry

A man deserves to be rebuked
(A lass is ne’er to blame)
He emailed me with his request
Colin is his name

‘I would be honoured’, so it read
‘If you’d do the ‘Reply”
‘On behalf of Lassies’, so he said
So casual, by the by.

Thus, I swiftly emailed back
To say that would be fine
It’s a shame that I had no idea
Of the stress that would be mine

I’d thought this speech was something quick
that I could find online
And print off, just before I came
And read out, at this time.

Yet only a few days ago
To Google’s aid I turned
He said I had to write my own!
None was supplied by Mr Burns

The ‘reply’ required a lot of thought
It was to be new each time
It wasn’t something he churned out
Not one of his five hundred and fifty-nine

Yikes, I cried – this isn’t right
This is an awful affair
Have they any idea how long it took
Just To work out what to wear?

And glancing back at that webpage
T’was with horror that I saw
That grace and charm and wit were required
Don’t you know me but at all?

When times are dark, and things are hard
T’is hubby whom is my light
Help I yelled – I cannot cope
Ha! He said – now shut up and write.

But so I bravely battled on
Back to Google I turned
My ever present buddy in life
So much from him I have learned.

Reveal, he did, ‘Replies’ of lassies
From Burns nights of the past
Please picture the horror on my face
On reading: 15 minutes it should last.

Don’t panic tho, I quickly thought
That this I’d just dismiss
Fifteen minutes of me, I fear
Is no one’s idea of bliss

And furthermore it was revealed
‘Men’ I must show as fools
Whilst also referring to Rob himself
Tell me – who makes up these rules?

And what to say to show men up
To make them sound less wise?
A man can be a useful thing
No woman will deny…s

They work so hard from dawn to dusk
And still put dinner on the table
And sort the kids and clean the house
Oh… whoops – that’s us lassies that are so able.

But men are… they can help round the house.
When from the TV they’re dragged
And they… can be good company
They’re handy… if you need a good nag.

OK, ok, it’s said in jest
I think men quite alright
Despite conning me into doing this
Or laughing at my plight

And as for Burns that famous Scot
A real one, not just in part
T’was two hundred n fifty years ago he was born (tomorrow)
And a bit later, he did depart

The bit in the middle, it seems to consist
Of flirting and being a tart
But he sought out some time to write lots a stuff down
Which now is considered pure art.

Well, my poem is done; it turned out to be fun
My panic was clearly in vain
But just so I’m clear, if you have one next year,
Please don’t make me do it again

So thanks to you Rich, your speech was quite fab
You were so very frank
On behalf of all the lassies here
I’d like to extend our thanks

Piccies of the evening can be viewed here, if you’re interested!

GB…Best Bits

if i don’t write this tonight i’ll never get it done as 2moro am all back to normal (ish).

i think what i enjoyed the most this year was the social aspect. We camped alongside good friends (richard and lori passmore) and Rich came in useful when a group of loud persons decided to party outside our tents around 2:20am one morning! My sister (Zoe Stephenson) also came each day, as she lives in Chelt, and several of her friends were around also, so we got to know them a bit. Oh, also i went to hers one day for a shower… that was a real highlight! Hanging out just in front of the yurt, near the TT tent was one of our fave pastimes… the kids loved playing on those white bars that surround the arena, or hanging out in the yert with unknown teenagers, or playing with the ‘poi’ I bought them (those balls on strings that everyone was throwing around!).
So yes, it was v sociable, more so than last 2 years, and perhaps even more so than when i went as teenager, way back when.

Enjoyed hanging out with guys from ‘between the lines’ venue and also from ‘generous’ project… my 2 areas of interest. My workshop with Penny (Culliford) called ‘finding your inner bridget’ (re chick lit) went well… had a fairly packed venue… got lots of positive feedback, etc. Our signing was busier than last year… altho I use the word ‘busy’ in the very loosest of senses. Still, our bookshop ‘escort’ (i told her she really needs to ask for a less dodgy title) made us tea, which made us feel like divas, so that was cool.

I was thrilled to meet Nick Page, as i am a big fan of ‘and now let’s move into a time of nonsense’, that i have reviewed on this blog somewhere (and a fan of some of the other 3 billion books he’s written) and Rev Alistair McCollum (whom i 1st met on an SU holiday many moons ago, and then again last year at GB) and Conrad Gempf (I have added all these guy’s blogs to my blogroll, for yr info).

I was also happy to meet some lovely Subway-ers (Christian writers e-list) who were involved with some of the BTL sessions. Met Jude Simpson (i am huge fan) briefly… missed her show tho, but bet it was good – i went to it last year, nearly wet myself (in a good way!) . Also good to meet Generous-ers (Greenbelt ‘year of living generously’ project)… would have gone to every session in the generous zone if i’d been able to!

My ‘generous’ session went well. Neither Bob, Bono or Leo turned up (see my ‘fantasy men’ post a few days ago!) but it went ok nevertheless. I was helped by my fab friend Lori Passmore who was v ‘generous’ to help me out, even tho i only asked her a few days before GB! We had about 50+ people, which wasn’t bad for an area which was only really designed for 10-20 people to attend a session in. Main message was: buy less stuff in general, cut down, cut back… use money saved to shop locally, fair trade, organic, eco-friendly, all that jazz. Lots of nodding heads at the end was encouraging, and people afterwards coming to me and telling me that they agreed with everything i said, can’t be a bad thing!

I also helped with a couple of other sessions and was on a ‘blogging’ panel, but i don’t think it much compared to the ‘spirituality of blogging’ by the great blog-gods: TSK, Maggie Dawn, Jonny Baker, et al.

Penny and I found ourselves yet again spending eons of time doing interviews. We went to the GB FM area at 5pm on the Fri, as we had been invited to come then… only to be told that they couldn’t ‘do’ us then but could we come back at other times. We spoke to a BBC Radio lady (who was ‘helping’ the GB FM team…!) for a while… we must have been there for about an hour in all. Then I went the next morning to be on air talking about my ethical shopping session, then penny and I met up with some nice ladies at the Mocha coffee cafe, to do an interview which was taped and used later (re our chick-lit w.shop). I mustn’t complain, it’s all good publicity, etc, and I am fine doing interviews (not nervous, like with w.shops, etc)… but it meant poor old hubby had to have the kids for even more of the time… whoops!

We (Pen and I) also got invited to be interviewed at ‘last orders’ on the last eve. This was one of the best things ever, not just coz we got interviewed, but coz we got to BE there… soooooooooooo funny! Really enjoy comedy and stuff. LOVED ‘Tent TV’… such a shame so many GB-ers prob don’t know what this is… it really should be played from the main-stage! Rev Gerald Ambulance also there… I was just a few metres away from the gr8 man… i have been such a fan since his 1st writings in Disclosure, eons ago. Kept meaning to go and chat but chickened out, and also he was quite busy… err… changing clothes and stuff! Still, one day…!

Leo Hickman interview was good – fab guy.

The Proclaimers were worth it.

Oh, and Fraser getting awarded one of the ‘tree’ pictures by the artist was amazing… see ‘visual greenbelt’ post for a pic of this… he is only 6, and the artist read his poem in the ‘tree poem’ book published at GB and loved it, and decided to award him the picture, publicly, at the end of his interview in the BTL tent. It was a gr8 moment… hubby has just hung it on his wall… it’s framed and everything!

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all i can muster up for now (“hurrah for that!” they all cry)… oh, the pizza was also nice, as was the pistachio flave sheep’s milk icecream!