Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Year of the Pine Marten

It’s been just over a year since I started this blog, with no particular aim in mind. There had just been a lot of people who had asked me if I wrote one, or said that I should, and since blogging had become the new rock’n’roll, I thought that I might as well try it. I didn’t really have in mind any specific agenda, although I did and obviously still have a few axes to grind or simply areas that I find interesting and may well seem absolutely pointless to everyone else. One year later, I thought I’d take stock of where the Militant Pine Marten has arrived, what trees it’s climbed, what areas it has recolonised, how many birds’ nests it has devastated.

A quick scan of the archives reveals what this site has turned out to be about. Of thirty-seven published articles, about a dozen have been about civil liberties and terrorism, and more to the point the assault on the former under the pretence of fighting the latter. Three have been on the Byzantine manoeuvring on both sides of the channel as political vipers slither for position around moribund administrations on both sides of the Channel. That hasn’t been an edifying spectacle. So far, I think that France has the edge on the UK in this regard, but current events suggests that the Skulduggery Cup may change hands very shortly indeed. A further three articles have been on the EU and Europe in general, although admittedly there may be some who thought that the last one was about mushroom hunting. Which it was. Amongst other things.

Casual racism masquerading as common sense has faced a couple of mustelid denunciations, but I admit that it may have seemed to some that one of those was about bears. Other topics have included religion, education, capital punishment, the Iranian situation, civil disobedience, the Queen and her choice of newspapers, and recently a greater focus on what some term the social fracture, particularly in France where they’re more given to discussing things in such grandiloquent terms.

So I suppose that a year on, if someone asks me what the Militant Pine Marten is about, I might have to say that it centres on civil liberties, comparative Franco-British and European politics, with to some degree a thread of idealistic altruism throughout. I might also add that maybe what gives the Pine Marten a distinctive flavour is a dusting of whimsy. That’s what I might say. One of my artist friends however just says that “it’s quite an anarchistic website”, a comment that highlights the gap between my own perception and intention and that of the (thinly spread) world at large.

I have bothered to write over the past year for several reasons. An important one is that it has forced me to structure my thoughts in order to be able to convey them in pixels. In this way my ideas have grown clearer if not necessarily any better, and how they have evolved even over such a short time has become apparent. I also think that in years to come, I may be glad of a written record of what I used to think of some the salient and not-so-salient issues of the time. This will be useful, as it should stop me from lecturing younger people about how daft and wishy-washy they are. Finally, I don’t think that I would bother with this if I didn’t think that from time to time, someone would read what I had to say and possibly even like it (I’ll take the opportunity to thank all the people who bothered to argue about the death penalty). I suspect that vanity is an inherent part of any creative activity, and the Militant Pine Marten certainly isn’t above a little light narcissism.

This is the thirty-seventh post on this site, and by the standards of most blogs, that’s really not very many at all. Partly as a result of this, this blog isn’t exactly one of the great cybercrowd-pullers. On the other hand, most blogs don’t survive more than six months as the authors discover that it requires commitment, that it’s pretty thankless, and that maybe they don’t have that much to say. In this respect I have been very fortunate in that, if the Militant Pine Marten’s Blogotov Cocktail hasn’t exactly set the Blogosphere ablaze, there have been a couple of bright candle stubs. Very early on, attention was drawn to this site by the now sadly defunct Shot-by-Both-Sides (although John B is back in the saddle here!), and two articles were included in Tim Worstall’s excellent Britblog Roundup (first here, then here. I am also grateful to Tim for including my second ever article in his anthology of 2005 British Blogs (still available through the link to the left), which gave the Pine Marten a confidence boost. More recently, the Militant Pine Marten took its first tentative steps out of the online forest and was quoted in print on the second page of the Guardian (“Today on the web – The Queen at 80”, Friday April 21st 2006).

Utterly chuffed by these small triumphs, the Militant Pine Marten is now convinced that it’s well worth continuing with this exercise. If anyone is still reading this, thanks for taking the time. We’ll see how this has evolved in May 2007!