Monday, March 26, 2007

Telegraph invites three "Your View" regulars to be guest bloggers

Simon Coulter XXX XXX David Llewellyn xxxxxxx Phil Slocombe

Final update: Thursday 29th March 0755, CORRECTION 0950

"I supported his attempt to become a guest blogger. I'm not sure I'll do that again"

The words you read above are part of an update that appeared this morning on the site belonging to "Richard of Orléans", that grotesque Goebbels-like propaganda machine that spews out a never-ending stream of lies, distortions and half-truths.

I've already done a line by line dissection of the "comment" that he deposited on Shane Richmond's blog yesterday.

Now he claims that it was all meant in good faith, to "support my attempt to become a guest blogger". Leaving aside the question as to whether or not I wish to be a guest blogger -which I've said earlier would be problematical - is there anyone, apart from Colin Randall's cat, who believes that R of O is really touting on my behalf ?

Let me tell you what his "Comment" was really all about. He saw Shane Randall inviting three contributors to the Telegraph's "Your View" to guest blog and thought "Oh my God, what if Colin Berry is next to get an invite, and Bill T and I don't" ?

And over in Toronto, Bill Taylor was thinking exactly the same thing. That was the real chagrin. Without messages needing to be exchanged both knew what had to done - a wrecking exercise that would deter Shane Richmond from ever inviting me to guest blog.

Bill Taylor began the process with a reference to there being chagrin in Antibes. That was the signal for Orléans to get in with one of his exercises in grotesque caricaturing, that would have brought tears of admiration to the eyes of Joseph Goebbels.

Bill Taylor sensed it was time to go in for the kill, and finish the job, so comes back with his old standby in character assassination - claiming that I use multiple pseudonyms maliciously. In fact, it is Bill Taylor, pillar of the Toronto Star, who has used pseudonyms with malice aforethought on at least two occasions, once as James Hamilton, and the second as the recently resurrected "Lacombe Lucien".

I believe blogging touched rock bottom yesterday with those comments placed by BT and R of O on Shane Richmond's blog. And their message is clear: invite Colin Berry to blog, and we'll trash the Comments section there, just as we have done here.

As I've said before, new freedoms bring new responsibilites. I believe that 'R of O' and BT are killing the local family of blogs, abusing the freedoms they provide to engage in gratuitous insults at others' expense. That, in a nutshell - and I struggle to think of a more appropriate receptacle- is how both get their kicks. Beneath their veneer of civility, microscopically thin in places, they are a pair of bovver boys.

Shame on Colin Randall for turning a blind eye for so long while those two miscreants refined their act on his blogs. Colin R is today celebrating reaching 50,000 on Salut!'s hit counter. Does he not realise that without that pair of thugs, it would probably have been in six figures by now ?

4th update: Wed 28th March 21:30

Have just been re-reading the comments on Shane Richmond's thread. Although I've already posted a response to Richard of Orléans, I confess to still being fairly livid at this latest example defamatory comment.

Here's what he said: His invective is in black. My (printable) responses are in red.

He deserves his spot in the Sun

Well Shane you have thrown down the gauntlet for our fawning Antibois, Monsieur Berry.

Fawning ? Where's the evidence that I have fawned to Shane Richmond ? Anyone reading my blog will know that I tell Shane Richmond exactly what is on my mind. "Fawning Antibois" is the language of a pamphleteer, attacking some perceived evil in society. It is totally inappropriate in the context of our blogs.

He will cut off his right arm to be a guest blogger on the Telgraph.

Since when have you been a mind-reader, Richard? Well, I'll tell you this. I'm no mind reader, so have no way of knowing what is in Shane Richmond's mind. But I could take an educated guess. Would it make sense to invite Colin Berry, or any of the other blog contributors, to write blogs if it's like waving a red flag to the likes of BT and Rof O ? Chances are they will waste no time in trashing the Comments section the way they have trashed Shane's own most recent blog with their attempts at character assassination ?

I know what I'd conclude if I were Shane. But I'm not, and nor is R of O, so he should keep his speculation to himself.

I will not be churlish nor spiteful. Merit where merit’s due. Other things being equal, Colin Berry deserves to be a guest blogger.

That's magnanimous of you, Richard. But we know to expect a sting in the tail

His style would appeal to the posh voiced middle England which adores the Queen, waves the flag, hates the EU and voted for the Iraq war.

And here it is: the inability of Richard to distinguish between his crude stereotypical Telegraph reader (despite being one himself) and a blogger who is about as far removed from that description as is possible.

I respect the Queen for the way she handles her duties, and consider that constitutional monarchy is at least as good a form of government as a Republic with a President as Head of State. I do not "adore" the Queen, or wave Union flags etc etc. That, for better or for worse, is simply not my style.

I do not hate the EU as an ideal, provided it moves no further towards US-style federalism. The Yugoslav federation disintegrated amid atrocities and genocide, despite having a common synthetic language (Serbo-Croat). What chance is there of stable political union in the absence of a common language ?

My position on Iraq ? Here's what I posted to Adam Boulton's Sky blog over a year ago:

"The US/UK led invasion of Iraq was not wrong in principle, but it was premature, did not have UN approval, and did not involve a broad coalition of forces, such as that which Bush Sr. put together for the liberation of Kuwait. But to pretend, as some contributors do, that allowing Saddam to stay in power was the lesser of two evils, and that he should have been allowed to continue terrorising his own population (Shias, Kurds, Marsh Arabs), shows a callous disregard for human suffering. Bush&Blair have made many mistakes , but the idea that the invasion of Iraq, costing billions of pounds and dollars, was all about oil is frankly naive. Blair's main mistake was to focus on weapons, real or imagined, instead of that tyrant's track record as a monster.It's about international security, about being able to sleep at night. The focus is now moving to Iran, for all the same reasons".

Just as he wedges stubbornly in the nostrils of those who hold none of the aforesaid qualifications.

Where does he find this kind of prose ? It's redolent of the 17th century !

But other things are not equal, for Mr Berry doesn’t allow comments on his blog.

This is what Churchill would have described as a "terminological inexactitude", or Alan Clarke as being "economical with the actualité " Blatant, deliberate lie is the expression that I would use. I'm grateful to Louise for setting the record straight. Comments are always welcome, by email, but not from R of O, for the reasons stated in previous posts.

The Telegraph, already accused by some of Stalinien tendencies, would hardly associate with an individual who sets up his sermonising pulpit but denies the common man a right of reply.

Who's sermonising, I ask you ? Who's the one with the authoritarian tendencies, who likes subjecting folk to his impromptu "peoples' court" ( with this self-appointed commissar deciding what the people should be thinking)

The ball is in your court Mr Berry, what are you going to do?

I've just done it, Mr. High and Mighty Orléans. I've updated my blog to make clear my deep distaste for your language and style of blogging. You are a whisker away from warranting the description ???????? ( I'll come back later on that one).

richard of orléans at 27 Mar 2007 19:07

Third update: Wed 28th March 17:10

I have just sent the following reply to Bill Taylor on Shane Richmond's blog. How nice it would be if that would draw a line once and for all under this ridiculous business .

"OMG. We're back on that again - the subject of pseudonyms. Bill Taylor just cannot let go, can he ? And to read his comment above, one could be forgiven for thinking that I was the only person ever to have blogged under a pseudonym. No mention of his own excursions under at least one, and probably more besides.

Yes, I have used pseudonyms - invariably because I don't wish to be constantly advertising what a sad old bastard I am, making repeated posting to the same thread under my real name.

Back in August last year there was a brief spell of midsummer madness when a spate of pseudonyms appeared on the same thread of Colin Randalls's entitled "The importance of public scrutiny".

Bill Taylor appeared on that thread under his "James Hamilton" persona. And it was far from benign. Using that pseudonym he had previously claimed to have arrived in Antibes seeking confrontation with me (he laughs it off, but my wife and I were not laughing at the time, especially when he said he was going round knocking on doors).

I appeared (defensively, not aggressively) on the same thread as "Gordon" and as "James", not to be confused with a "James N".

I would advise any students of blogosphere ethics reading this to consult that thread, and look closely at the behaviour of the three "pseudos".( Maybe Dom Kureen above has material for a PhD thesis).

Note, for example, the rough treatment meted out to "James N" and "Lacombe Lucien" by Bill Taylor/James Hamilton for daring to speak their minds, and contrast it with my own, addressing the ISSUES rather than rounding on on individuals. It would have been very easy for me to have sniped at "James Hamilton", whom I was 99% certain of being Bill Taylor. But I did not do so, because I believe sniping from cover to be reprehensible.

It's time to let go now, Bill Taylor, and stop dredging up past history again and again. The portrayal of Bill Taylor as Saint, and myself as Sinner, simply does not stand "public scrutiny", as Colin Randall so presciently put it.

Let's agree to draw a line under this now. I have withdrawn from personal blogging; I simply wish to post comments to Telegraph blogs without being constantly jumped upon for supposed misdemeanours in the past, which seem to be largely a figment of Bill Taylor's imagination. Much the same could be said of Richard of Orléans, though they are clearly cut from very different cloth."

Second update: Wed 28th March 12:10

Have just sent the following to Shane Richmond's blog, under the title "Give it a rest". It went up in record time - less than a minute !! Thank you Ceri Radford et al.

"I see the incorrigible Richard of Orléans is still trying to use other people's blogs, in this case Shane Richmond's, as his kangaroo court.

It's the same old story: trumped up charges, and 'R of O' acting as prosecution, judge and jury, all conveniently rolled into one.

It's easy to do that, Richard, when you hide behind a pseudonym, but unfair and irresponsible when your target blogs under his real name.

Sorry, Richard, but I don't wish to participate in your warped little game. Kindly give it a rest, and do please stop misrepresenting the facts. For the record (sigh) I rarely comment on world politics, but can assure folk that I do not fit Richard's stereotype. I am broadly pro-EU, but anti-federalist and against Britain joining the single currency. I strongly opposed the Iraq war, believing that Saddam had no WMD to hide - that he was just playing cat-and-mouse with the inspectors, to wind up GWB/TB, and that bilateral US/UK action was premature and probably illegal.

Thank you Louise for correcting Richard on that absurd claim about no longer accepting comments. That is yet another instance of Richard misrepresenting the facts, just so he could work in his little joke about Stalin.

I think this is the point to stop, but if anyone wants clarification on any of the matters raised here, by BT, 'R of O' or Louise then I shall be only too happy to oblige. (BTW, Louise, thank you for the clarification re emails)"

Update: Wed 28th March 07:00: I have just this minute composed and sent off the following to Shane Richmond's most recent blog, entitled Readers Write :

"I suppose I should be flattered by all this attention from Bill Taylor. But I do wish he could find something, or someone else to talk about, instead of dogging my footsteps the whole time.

It is true that I have had to return, albeit reluctantly, to one or two blogs that are frequented by BT. And it has been invariably to deliver the same message: "Please find someone else to talk about".

Note that he has returned to Telly blogs, Shane's in particular, after several months of absence, not to respond to the issues, but to resume the same old nitpicking and backbiting at my expense.

I find it somewhat strange that a professional journalist on what is reputed to be Canada's leading newspaper should behave in this fashion. It puts one in mind of what an erstwhile Telly blogger used to refer to as the "green ink brigade".

Does anyone have any ideas about how one deals with it ? But please don't say "Ignore him". It doesn't work.

2nd update Tuesday 27th March: my old sparring partner, Bill Taylor, underworked journalist on the Toronto Star, apparently feels I should be feeling "chagrin" at the latest developments. He presumably means that I should be feeling miffed that I'm not in the initial tranche of Telly regulars invited by Shane to host blogs.

Bill T, a professional journalist, has been posting comments to the Telly for as long, if not longer than myself, so by that reckoning he should in theory be feeling pretty sore himself.

But let's think for a minute. We are both grown-up. We know how the world works. Shane is taking quite a bold step, and has had to get his open-door policy past his proprietor , namely the idea of letting Joe Blog(g)s onto the rostrum, and demolishing the barrier that separates the pros from us hoi polloi.

Maybe I'm sounding presumptious right now, as if I expect a call any minute.

Hey, but wait a minute. Let's look at this logically. I've blogged for several months, used up most of the obvious topics that I've wanted to get off my chest. So while I'm not entirely a spent force ( especially having taken a sabbatical) there's a sense in which an invitation to do a series of MSM posts would leave me like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights - what am I going to talk about, for Chrissake ?

So BT, who is a perceptive individual, but uncharitable piss-taker into the bargain, must understand that I and other Telegraph BLOGGERS are relaxed, indeed philosophical, that the first invites have gone out to those who comment, but do not BLOG. They, the "Your View" commentators have left their blogging powder dry, so to speak, and Shane probably knows that ....

More about that key distinction later, between "Your View" and "Telly blogs". There are other considerations, but they can wait.

Updated Tuesday 27th March : Late addition to Phil Slocombe's thread: the first a contribution from "Richard d'Orléans", followed immediately by my own. Scroll down to the blue font.

Sorry about the misaligned name captions. But there's an upside (for those not in the know): they are links. Clicking on them will take you to their maiden Telly blogs. One is assuming/hoping they will be all allowed more than one bite of the cherry (National Union of Journalists permitting !)

This one was posted to Simon's:

Beware the hypobaric chamber

I bought a new mariner's watch at Luton Airport, mainly because it has a compass (for land-based navigation I hasten to add) but among its other features is a barometer. On the flight back to Nice, the reading dropped from over 1000hPa right down to about 775 as I recall - almost a 25% drop in cabin pressure. While this was happening, the hermetically-sealed pack of sandwiches that I had bought in the departure lounge began swelling up, and ended up looking like a balloon, giving a most satisfying, but somewhat alarming bang when punctured. So apart from the ear-popping etc, it's a sobering thought that wherever one has trapped air in one's body, eg middle ear, chest cavity, there's going to be a similar attempt to balloon out. Quite an alarming thought! One wonders if this under-pressurising of cabins is really necessary, and whether it's right to inflict this stress on passengers people willy nilly, not knowing their medical problems. And that's on top of the DVT risk, and the rotten air filtration system that you refer to.Welcome by the way to Telly blogs, Simon. You and your two fellow "Your View" contributors have scored a notable first (a Trojan horse of citizen journalists penetrating the MSM fortress). Oh, I'm the Resident Bore, by the way (at least according to he who goes under the nom de plume "Richard of Orléans"). He's the Resident Pain in the Butt, although plenty of other descriptions spring to mind. "

Colin Berry at 26 Mar 2007 14:03

and this one to David's (I've started, so I will finish ......)

Keep taking the tablets

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Telly blogs, David. And that's just the journalists' posts. Just wait till you see some of the Comments. All life is here (including some that ain't terribly high in the food chain).Re those ancient "cookery stone tablets". Only a few us know the vital role they played later in human evolution. For aeons they cluttered up every cave and simple dwelling, long after the hieroglyphics etc had become indecipherable. It became a huge challenge to mankind to find some use for this prehistoric toe-stubbing detritus. Then someone had one of those eureka moments. "Why not use them as bookends? " But then someone spotted a drawback. "But we haven't invented books yet". Well, the rest, as they say, is history.Don't say I didn't warn you about the Comments section ......
Colin Berry at 26 Mar 2007 15:03

and, finally you'll be relieved to hear, this one to Phil Slocombe's ......

Three new faces

Hello, Phil Slocombe. It's nice to see the face behind the name, especially one who has given us so much entertainment under the "Your View" section (and de-mystified China for a lot of us). The Telly's open door policy - with two more Guest bloggers waiting in the wings, I see - is also a welcome and innovative move. But don't I recall Shane Richmond saying a while ago that non-journalists need not apply, or words to that effect ? One wonders what some of the old hands must be thinking about this blurring of the distinction between citizen and professional journalists. Or are Phil and other two seasoned NUJ members ?

Colin Berry at 26 Mar 2007 11:59

..and here was Phil's speedy reply ...


Hello Colin I do not intend to make a habit of replying to posts or interfering with any discussion that takes place but as you were so kind to welcome me to this new opportunity DT has given me , I felt it would be very rude not to thank you. No I have never written for any sort of publication before. Definitely amateur but trying to improve. Many Thanks

Phil Slocombe at 26 Mar 2007 13:42

Added Tuesday

Curried Cuisine

My favourite is the British use of the word 'cuisine'. They apply it to the vile food that they eat. As in 'Tika Masala is British cuisine'
Richard of Orléans at 26 Mar 2007 18:12

Sacré bleu

Richard of Orléans has led us off-topic onto his favourite bête noire - the unspeakable Anglo-Saxon (despite qualifying himself for at least part of that description).Rather than challenge him directly (since he never concedes so much as a single Napoleonic millimetre) I would make an oblique reference to the subject he alludes to.At least when we borrow a word from another language, Richard Coeur d'Orléans, we try not to muck it around, and usually endeavour to pronounce it correctly. The French show no such respect for imported English words. "Le parking" (car park) was bad enough, but the real horror doing the rounds a year or two back was a Parisian buzzword coined for the entire eating-out experience, covering cuisine, service, décor etc. Brace yourselves now: "le fooding" !

Colin Berry at 26 Mar 2007 19:08

The latest post on "R of O's" own blog, called La Sologne, is about French canal-building. I composed the following, but decided against sending it:

I'm surprised you overlooked to mention that plan of Napoleon to link France with its old rival by a canal, to be dubbed "La Grande Union". Those plucky French engineers built the Paris to Calais stretch at great speed, learning valuable lessons that they later put to good use in the construction of the Suez Canal. But at Calais they ran into a technical snag about which they are loathe to speak, and the project was abandoned, at least on the French side. Well, not entirely. An alternative plan was briefly considered to rescue the project, a kind of face-saving exercise. It was from that we get the expression "to have tunnel vision".

Meanwhile on the other side of the Channel, after the mirth and jollity had died down, it was agreed that the idea was good in principle, but needed to be in tune with realities. So the first stretch was built from the industrial heart of England down to London. It's still there to this day, and a gesture of solidarité, and a nod in the direction of L'Entente Cordiale, it was called "The Grand Union Canal".

Well, that's how my grandad told it to me, and as my dad always said "He tells 'em good".