Bitch on the Blog

October 2, 2013


As you know I am a soft touch. Don’t sneer. It’s true. I don’t like hurting people other than through reasoning. I’d give you my last band aid and fifty pence. In fact, if only it helped, I’d tie myself into knots for you and a stranger.

Which is why I don’t employ ‘blog rolls’ and “blogs I follow”. To illustrate: At school (PE – physical education) sometimes we were not allowed to hurt ourselves on some contraption in gymnastics but were required to form two teams. Give me physical over mental damage any time. And I say this as someone who was top dog – not least because I ran fast and kicked high. Popular by another name. Call me a coward but I dreaded our PE teacher calling the names of two ‘leaders’ to form a team by choosing their players alternately. Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela couldn’t have squirmed more than I did (already chosen by team leader A or B) facing that moment of diminishing returns for the team. There is something so blatantly humiliating to watch rejects – the last two or three no team leader wanted. To see the slow’s and fat’s anguish painted on their faces. Awful. Plain awful.

I (say, age 16) was given the dreaded task of team leader only once. I made choices. Boy oh boy oh girl did I make  choices. My PE teacher (and she was fond of me) thought I was taking the piss. I was. Deliberately. I chose all those no-hopers – one by one – first. Seeing their faces light up. Seeing those first class sports women (girls), used to success, their smug faces fall in disbelief as I called one name after another. My teacher made a written note of this on my record. Let’s say her wording was ambiguous.

Yes, so. Blog rolls, blogs I follow. You may have noticed that I do not publish either on my page. I feel very much that who I read – always, occasionally, only once or obsessively – is private. It’s my affair. AND, this is the important part: Who appeals to me or not is in NO way any reflection on the blogger. Try and sell THAT notion. Good luck. It would be disingenuous if I didn’t admit to being ‘flattered’ when I find myself on someone’s blog roll, right there on the right. Of course I am. Which, and I hope you get it, makes my point entirely.

Since I always trust my readers to tell me what they think (even those silent ‘followers’ who have nothing to say) I look forward to hearing from you on this delicate subject.




  1. I don’t publish on my blog either. Not for the same reason as yours but I don’t. I remember that alternate method of choosing teams well and the left overs. But that is life. I have been left over too apart from being team leader. Such experiences form the basis for our eventual character. Nice to go back to those innocent days.

    Comment by Rummuser — October 2, 2013 @ 13:19 | Reply

    • Interesting thought, Ramana: “Such experiences” do indeed “form the basis for our eventual character.”, But that’s the frightening part. Surely. Always a winner, always a winner? Always a loser, always a loser? I suppose, with regards to my PE example, the point I was trying to make that we can be very cruel to each other, thoughtless, inconsiderate, selfish. And it is up to those who see a wider picture, beyond their own success, to make a difference to those not quite up to scratch. Call it compassion.

      Dear dog in heaven, I am beginning to sound like … I don’t know. Who?


      Comment by bitchontheblog — October 2, 2013 @ 15:17 | Reply

      • The scars tha can be left by these experiences can be very delibilitating….. even more so when parents sneer about it afterwards. I’m with Ursula here.

        Comment by magpie11 — October 2, 2013 @ 17:32 | Reply

        • Ursula and Magpie, I am sure that both of you can see that this is a very possible scenario.

          This is a story of two brothers. One was a drug addict and a drunkard who frequently beat up his family. The other one was a very successful businessman who was respected in society and had a wonderful family. Some people wanted to find out why two brothers from the same parents, brought up in the same environment, could be so different.

          The first one was asked, “How come you do what you do? You are a drug addict, a drunk, and you beat your family. What motivates you?” He said, “My father.” They asked, “What about your father?” The reply was, “My father was a drug addict, a drunk and he beat his family. What do you expect me to be? That is what I am.”

          They went to the brother who was doing everything right and asked him the same question. “How come you are doing everything right ? What is your source of motivation?” And guess what he said? “My father. When I was a little boy, I used to see my dad drunk and doing all the wrong things. I made up my mind, that is not what I wanted to be.”

          Both were deriving their strength and motivation from the same source.

          Comment by Rummuser — October 3, 2013 @ 01:18 | Reply

          • Your comment, Ramana, veering into the interesting land of so called “choice”. I like to believe in the fantasy of ‘free will’, yet I do know that much is bred in the bone. Which is possibly one of the reasons I am forgiving, of myself and others. No one pushes the self destruct button deliberately. And no one should preen themselves on having ‘escaped’, living a blameless, cleanly laundered life.

            Like you I grew up in a (relatively) large family. To this day it’s a source of wonderment to my parents how their four children are so very different. Same family, different outcomes. Naturally we overlap in many ways. And yet … I’d say the biggest divide between us the way we look at the world. And how we look at the world shapes us. My youngest sister is pragmatic. She is so pragmatic, and hard as nails, I sometimes don’t recognize the little girl I once knew. She puts herself even before the feelings of my parents. Let’s leave it there. One hell of a shame. Either she’ll regret it one day, or best scenario for her, and the most likely, she won’t. My brother is one of the friendliest and accommodating people you can wish for. Though not to be messed with. My other sister has an insatiable need, and I mean NEED, to be the best. Even when she isn’t. It’s a family in-joke that I will step down and hand her the trophy. Whatever makes her happy. Doesn’t matter to me taking myself back. Which, naturally, leads to the criticism that I am so damn sure of myself, have such an innate self assurance that I can ‘afford’ to give her the limelight. Maybe. Probably a fair assessment. Which is why I’d always recommend to be born either first or staying an only child.


            Comment by bitchontheblog — October 3, 2013 @ 03:10 | Reply

            • Only just seen Raman’s story…interesting…. My late mother on my eldest sister and I, “I cannot understand how two children brought up in the same could be so different.” ….. MY late mother on me being sensitive, “It’s a pity .(name of same sister) was not a boy. She’d have soon sorted you out.” Brought up the same?
              Genetic disposition has agreat deal to do with these things….. that and chance perhaps.

              Comment by magpie11 — October 10, 2013 @ 18:22 | Reply

  2. Picking teams — I understand and agree. I can’t say that I was as generous in picking “no-hopers.” Silly me, I wanted to win. Still, for some activities, being tall, skinny and awkward, I was one of those “no-hopers.”

    I used to have a blog roll, but, over time, most of the blogs withered away and died. Too much hassle to keep up.

    Comment by Mike — October 2, 2013 @ 14:46 | Reply

    • Of course, Mike, and it is self understood and human nature: Most of us are competitive and want to win. That’s why we pick “winners”. I cannot recollect what came over me that moment to choose all the “losers” first. Possibly a long simmering and innate outrage at how we behave towards each other, towards those not up to a challenge, social injustice (wish I’d added that to my tag line), how we trample on the feelings of the most vulnerable. That day was one my triumphs. Being in a position of power player, acknowledged as one of the best, I was able to hold up a mirror to my classmates. And I dare say it stuck with all those involved. My team didn’t “win” the score, but I won a moral and ethical victory. The only ones laughing in the changing room after the game were I and my ‘losers’. Credit to the winning team for looking sheepish at their ‘victory’ – most of them fully understood the point I had tried to make. Did it rub off? Who knows.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — October 2, 2013 @ 15:09 | Reply

  3. Having been too often at the uneneviable end of the line of choice myself I appreciated a similar gesture made by a highly intelligent child in one of my calsses. It formed the basis of a discussion after the lesson. Well done you, I say.
    I did have my moments of glory …. I could run nearly every one else into the ground over the crosscountry courses…everyone except an even skinnier chap who would run along with me chatterign away and then a quarter mile from the end take off like a grey hound skimming over the mud in grand style…..

    Comment by magpie11 — October 2, 2013 @ 17:30 | Reply

    • Thank you for the compliment, Magpie. I have had the good fortune of never having been at the end of the line. What I am grateful for that it didn’t make me devoid of compassion for those in a weaker position.

      As to your long distance runner: Makes me smile. I hate(d) marathons. And refused myself at school. However, I loved sprints. First the 50 m, then as we got older the 75 m, the 100. I have related this before: I always chose (if I could choose) to run with the fastest in class. Susanne, a girl with impossibly long legs, and an ambition to match. There was never any doubt about the outcome. Of course she’d make it first. But, I am clever: I knew that by running with someone much faster I’d be pulled along at her heels, resulting in a much better reading at my teacher’s stop watch than if I’d run with a sack of potatoes behind me. There is winning and there is winning.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — October 2, 2013 @ 18:53 | Reply

  4. I’ve always had a blogroll and I don’t see any problem with it. It’s simply a list of blogs I like reading, and it doesn’t imply anything at all about the blogs or the bloggers. I’m not saying these are the best blogs in the world or that blogs I don’t happen to mention are rubbish. They’re just a sign of my personal taste, which may or may not be shared by others.

    Comment by nick — October 2, 2013 @ 21:06 | Reply

    • Of course there is no “problem”, Nick. I believe you slightly misunderstood what I was trying to say – or maybe I didn’t make my point well. It happens.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — October 3, 2013 @ 01:15 | Reply

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  6. This is the best explanation – explanation is not the right word – I’ve encountered for not having a blog roll. Good approach. Read and visit or don’t read and visit.

    I have one for various reasons. It’s partly reciprocal – a thank you – which started when i was so surprised and pleased to be mentioned on this guy’s blog (I think he was based in Wicklow at that time). So I’ll always have a soft spot for him and his considered reflections on life.
    Also – some of the links (whether reciprocated or not) are to places I think people should go. So unlike Nick, I am implying – nay urging – people to go there.
    And thirdly – three reasons will do – it reminds me nto drop by myself.

    Comment by blackwatertown — October 4, 2013 @ 07:52 | Reply

    • Yes, Paul, I’d like to reciprocate too. But I can’t. I have caused enough outrage to last me for another five minutes.

      You know, if I let that ‘bitch’ go unleashed – I won’t – I’d give you a blog roll which would make some people’s eyes water. Like you I’d do categories: Red/black book. Those who make me laugh for all the wrong reasons. Those who really really really really really really need to cut their prose – big time. Those who bore the cows home. And then there are my favourites. Dear dog in heaven, do I not just enjoy you. Whoever you are you’ll know.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — October 8, 2013 @ 20:02 | Reply

  7. I only started a blog roll because my sister advised me to and also because, apparently, the more links you have the better for your blog ratings. But I don’t know. They get in the way, so I started a separate page for them, which I’m sure no one reads. I started an LBC one because it was a bit of work having to past links every week.

    Comment by Maria — October 5, 2013 @ 19:15 | Reply

    • That’s the difference between you (many others) and me: I don’t care about “blog ratings”. I am not competitive. To me blogging and comments – here and everywhere – is a state of flux. Not a competition.

      You are right: On the whole people (that’s me) do not look at blog rolls. I do look at comments on other bloggers’ posts. So if someone catches my attention I’ll go straight there via their link. A wonderful way to forge friendships. Pen by another name.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — October 8, 2013 @ 20:07 | Reply

  8. I’m with you U – as a 3-sport jock in school I was invariably one of the first chosen. When made a chooser, I picked the nerds & geeks first. What the heck – this was PE class — time for some fun. And fun it was. I was not the big man on campus kind of jock – more the everyman sort. At the 20th reunion many years ago it was fun to see many of those folks flourishing. And it was fun when they were genuinely happy to see me.

    Comment by Chuck McConvey — October 7, 2013 @ 20:03 | Reply

    • Kindred spirit, Chuck. So glad. One can be competitive without kicking those further down the ladder.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — October 8, 2013 @ 20:11 | Reply

  9. I was one of those “slows and lasts” of which you speak and I thank you for your compassion. It was awful to watch the ranks dwindle and be among the obvious left-overs. I longed to be wanted, feared to be abandoned and that was one repeated exercise in abandonment. Oh well, it built character–what kind? The jury is still out I suppose…

    As for blog rolls, I have one and I do need to keep it updated. I see this bloggy world as a community and I the blog roll is an attempt to support that small part of the wider community in which I’m most actively engaged.

    People get into blogging for different reasons. If you’re in just to speak your mind, then I suppose the blog rolls are less important. But if you are in to establish a presence or platform for yourself, then the “networking aspect is important and so are the blog rolls.

    All this talk of blog rolls is giving me a hankering for egg rolls. Is that happening to anyone else?

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — October 8, 2013 @ 15:30 | Reply

    • Lorna, hard to imagine you as one of the “slows and lasts”. Was it Nietzsche who said that the first will be the last and last will be the first? Not that I have yet made head or tail of his assertion. It’ll probably come to me on my way out.

      As you say: People get into blogging for different reasons.

      I was dragged into it after having been kicked in the shin. Grateful, and am enjoying it as what I call my watercooler moment. Totally different to most bloggers who – as you say – wish ‘to establish a platform for yourself’. My own posts like a decaying apple or a soft peach: Attracting fruit fly.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — October 8, 2013 @ 20:20 | Reply

      • I am attracted to your blog. I am not a fruit but I would certainly love to be a fly on your wall/s. You are my betrothed remember?

        Comment by Rummuser — October 9, 2013 @ 01:40 | Reply

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