#NewsSonnet 2: KKK, Rochester, NoTW, Brains

News sonnets: current affairs in three  iambic pentameter quatrains of alternating rhyme and a couplet.

The KKK has been Anonymized
Their concealment, by the masked, unconcealed.
So will disguise be, by the disguised
Unmasked? The pointed, burning truth revealed?
Andy Coulson served all five months, is freed.
Hang on. Eighteen into five doesn’t go.
Rebekaaaaaaaaah Brooks meanwhile is to succeed
Robert Thomson as News Corp’s CEO.
Niggle Farridge has a brand new MP.
Flashman vows he will regain the seat.
Milibean sacks turbulent Thornberry
For flags, a white van, and a reckless tweet.
Memory lapses, fainting fits, some pain.
It’s nice and tasty living in a brain.

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Praise be, my subscriptions have fallen

Easy as cake. Click image for source.

Easy as cake. Click image for source.

Running a blog about social media and PR is a piece of pie. Just start it up and make the right noises, eventually you wind up with several hundred subscribers.

Same with Twitter. What is everyone talking about on Twitter? Mostly social media, it seems to me.

So it’s with a sense of satisfaction that I notice my subscription rate is going down.

Did I say down? Yes, I meant down. Not up.

Because it means the people who were reading me because they thought I was going to wax lyrical about social media are all disappointed now I’m copywriting for a living. It means my audience is changing to copywriting, which is less popular right now. And this is what I want because I need my audience to change. I don’t care if it’s smaller.

I mean, I’ll still occasionally post about social media – and in fact I’m still doing it in a limited capacity for a couple of clients – but it’s not my primary profession any more.

Piece of pie. Click image for source.

Piece of pie. Click image for source.

Some people think I’m mad. They say I should have continued with it. I’m certainly (or at least probably) going to earn quite a lot less as a fusty old freelance copywriter than a rockstar social media dude, but while I’d rather be rich and happy, if I can’t have both, I’ll take happy any day.

So it might sound like the most bizarre communications strategy to tell people to go away, but I’ve never done things in the Normal Way. If you don’t like what I write, then go away. If you do, then subscribe.

It’s easy as cake.

And on… and on…

I notice that Chris Nee has linked up to me with a very nice description but mentions that I’ve been a bit quiet lately.

This is going to continue for another week at least – being quiet, that is. Because I still don’t have broadband. I might even stop being friendly too if it goes on any longer (see right).

You see, I know that somewhere there is a Big Switch. All that needs to happen, for me to get online, is for Virgin Media and BT jointly to flip it. So far all efforts to do this have been thwarted by three faults at the local BT exchange, Virgin Media cancelling my account rather than moving it, and midway through all this my new landlord insisting I change the telephone number, which effectively put me back to square one.

There’s so much I want to write about. I want to wrap up the old year and look ahead to the new. I want to put across quite pointed views about something I read on the BBC last year in which academics think the web is being used for ‘the wrong thing’ (have you ever read anything online by an academic that was of use to you? See, told you I was going to be pointed). I want to tell you about Clay Shirky’s piece in The Guardian today. I want to tell you what I’ve been up to and what I’ll be up to regarding social media.

I want to tell you about my shiny new PC and laptop and how I’m putting together the music studio again (not social media or PR but I get excited just thinking about it).

And of course there are all the other ‘it just occurred to me’ moments that inspire a blog post. Which I can’t post about because I’m not online to post about them most of the time.

Arse.

Oh well. As I said before you can still follow me on Twitter but it’s not quite the same, now is it?

Summer Solstice 2008: from the Ridgeway to Avebury

I know this is supposed to be a blog about all things PR and social media but what the hey, surely I can post the occasional personal piece. And the subject matter is kind of social media…

I got back from the summer solstice at Avebury last Saturday. I’ve been going to Avebury for the summer solstice for over ten years now, and I’m still recoving from this year’s solstice while typing this!

This year, thanks to the miracles of modern tech, I was able to capture a fair amount of the goings-on with my trusty Sony Ericsson mobile phone, then stitch it together using Windows Movie Maker. You can see the results below: it’s a tale of two parts, with the first being our 40-mile walk along the Ridgeway over three days, and the second being the shenanigans at Avebury itself, throughout the day and ensuing night, through to the solstice dawn.

Post-edit: YouTube is a bit borked currently. If the link above tells you the video is no longer available – which it most definitely is – then try just going to YouTube instead. If that doesn’t work then try using the funny &fmt=18 extension which sometimes magically makes things work. And if that doesn’t work then complain to YouTube. And I might just find somewhere else to put this in the meantime.

Post-post edit: It’s now on Vimeo too – http://www.vimeo.com/1236557

Post-post-post edit: It’s also now on DailyMotion – http://www.dailymotion.com/BrendanCooper/video/9961901

But why? It all started when I was walking the Ridgeway (the prehistoric path from Ivinghoe Beacon to Avebury) with a friend, who suggested we take a look around the stone circle and village. I had no idea about it but – blow me down with a feather – I actually recognised it from the very scary BBC TV children’s series ‘Children of the Stones’, which was filmed there. I cannot describe what a strange feeling it was, ‘remembering’ somewhere I’d never been, from images I’d seen as a child, especially given that it’s such a strange place anyway. A few months later I went to my first summer solstice and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Eleven years on and, apart from every summer solstice and a few winter ones, I must have visited Avebury on dozens of occasions. I’ve walked all around the area, seen Silbury Hill, Windmill Hill, the West Kennet and East Kennet Longbarrows, the roundbarrows on the Ridgeway, the Sanctuary, the Swallowhead, the Avenue, and the Tolkien Trees (and, of course, the Stones). If you want to know about any of these things, look them up on Google. Together they form the neolithic metropolis of the Avebury area which, since 1986, has been a designated World Heritage site.

Again, why? Because the whole area is just bizarre. There’s nothing like it. The stone circle is so large that the village is inside it. Silbury Hill is the largest man-made mound in Europe, equalling some of the smaller Giza pyramids in size. West Kennet Longbarrow is the largest of its kind in Western Europe. As the antiquarian Aubrey said, Avebury “doth as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge, as a cathedral doth a parish church.”

No, really why? Well, because there’s a pub there. In fact, the pub is in the village and the village is inside the stone circle, so that makes it the only pub inside a stone circle. It’s much more conducive to a good time than Stonehenge.

And why the solstice? Literally it means ‘sun still’, that is, the sun slowly rises higher in its path across the sky until the longest day of the year (June 21st), at which it seems to stop rising, then declines through the next six months to the shortest day – the winter solstice – on December 21st. The solstice is basically a pagan festival but it has its roots much further back. Both Stonehenge and Avebury might have been aligned around them.

But what really matters is that you can go there and just enjoy a brilliant day out in summer. You can watch the druids worship because you’re not kept out like at Stonehenge, so long as you watch from a respectful distance. As the day progresses you see all manner of things going on, from slightly naff Morris dancing to amazing drumming, fire juggling, firebreathing etc.

You can be as lairy or laid-back as you like. Drink the pub dry or have a picnic at the foot of a stone. Stay awake all night to see the sun rise, or fall asleep in the long grass around the henge. It doesn’t matter. Main thing is, it’s probably the most unique way to spend a summer’s day, for free, and I recommend that anyone and everyone do it at least once.

I also feel quite strongly that everyone can go there for their own reasons, and that this is essentially what people have been doing for thousands of years. I’m sure that people would gather there not just for the religious ceremonies, but to meet, exchange information, be entertained and so on. So by going there I am continuing a tradition that is as relevant today as ever.

I’ll certainly be there again next year. So if you fancy meeting up for a nice frothy pint at a trestle table next June, let me know! Alternatively if you just want to go and see the place, do it. It’s amazing at any time of the year.

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