Ten years of like, comment, share

Communicating with friends from all around the world, some I know very well in person, many of whom I have never met, is now just part of my life… and has been for ten years! Yes, ten years ago today I signed up to Facebook. it has changed enormously, and so have I!

I looked at my ‘friends’ list, which no doubt is quite short compared to a lot of people, but really actually did seem quite long… except when I break it down into sections it has a different perspective… because the word ‘friends’ on Facebook is not the same as in the actual world; a lot of people who aren’t on Facebook and are mistrustful of it, don’t quite understand how it works – and how it can work in different ways according to how you need it.

So… my Facebook friends:

  • actual real friends, real people I know in my actual life, everyday sort of friends; why might I need to have them on Facebook if I know them and see them regularly? Well, actually maybe I don’t see them regularly – for example, my friend who lives in Coventry – I maybe see her a few times a year, but we are in constant contact! Ditto my dear Dutch friends – we usually only meet once a year so it is great to be able to see photos of what they have been doing, and keep up with their news!
  • old friends – two sorts of old friends – those who I have kept in touch with by phone or letter and the occasional get-together, friends who live far away – and those who I was close to in the past, lost touch with and have been reunited by social media.
  • acquaintances who for one reason or another I still keep in contact with
  • people I have met through a shared interest
  • people I used to work with, and also, wonderfully, people I used to teach who still like to keep in touch.
  • and then the biggest group, other people who follow my favourite band, the Mavericks!! Some of these I have met at gigs, some live in distant countries; some I am in closer contact with than others, but really we are like a family, some more connected than others!
  • bloggers – other people who write blogs, but have become ‘friends’ through Facebook
  • writing – other writers, other writing groups, people in my own writing groups
  • interest groups – for me the main one is music and musicians, but also photography, art, Buddhism, Ireland, history and archaeology, places I used to live or have vested (especially Tasmania, Iceland and Ireland)
  • news and media people
  • and last of all, people I have just come across on Facebook, who are interesting and connect in some way

I have been through my list, long as it is, and there are only a couple of people who I have no actual idea how they came to be there…

More about Moving Dragons

It was just over eight months ago that some writing friends and I got together to try and promote our work, and to share the work of others too. We knew people in writing groups who for various reasons did not have their own blog but wanted to put their writing out in public view. We called ourselves The Moving Dragon Writes, and we started a WordPress blog as a sort of writers’ community blog. It’s called Somerset Writers, because that’s where we are, but it is a notional rather than actual  name, there are no county borders in our group!

Earlier today, I published  a piece about using social media to share and promote and publicise.. This is what I wrote:

One of the driving desires of a writer, as with any artist,  is to get work before an audience, to share what we have produced, to have people read what we have written. I guess we are fortunate these days in living in a world where we can show strangers our stories and poems and other writing and get feedback and comment – and often appreciation!

Social media gives us a wonderful stage on which to parade our characters and scenes. Yes, there can be a dark side to it – but odd things can happen anywhere in real life too – when you sit next to a person on the bus, or get into conversation with someone you don’t know very well in a pub or café, or encounter strange and sometimes downright weird folk in other situations.  We usually can deal with that as part of life, and have strategies and know how to find help – so it is with social media. Yes, there are stories in the press about unfortunate things which have happened from on-line encounters, but there are far more wonderful stories of friendships made, opportunities explored – and for writers and musicians – audiences reached!

We Moving Dragons share our work, and those of friends here on our blog – (and if you have a short story, article, poem, or anything which fits our eclectic group, then please get in touch!) and we also promote it through our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/TheMovingDragonWrites/?ref=bookmarks

and we tweet too –

https://twitter.com/brimdraca

… and here is a link to our WordPress:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

Carol Ann’s peach and blueberry custard pie

People have such strange ideas about social networking – people who don’t do it and probably know nothing about it. When I say to some people that I’m on Facebook they almost make a sign of a cross or some other gesture to repudiate evil. I’ve made some really good ‘friends’ on Facebook – and some of my closest friends in my off-line life are people I met through various on-line sites, mainly music.

One of my good Facebook friends is Carol Ann, we have a love of music in common but also cooking and she is a great cook… how do I know? She’s shared her recipes with me and everyone’s a winner!

The other day she posted a picture of a pie she had made which looked magnificent, mouth-watering! She very kindly shared the recipe and it was a sort of pie I had never heard of, a peach and blueberry custard pie.

As a child we had a peach tree in our garden, and they are one of my favourite fruits. In the days before the availability of everything all the year round regardless of season, the only way to have peaches apart from summer time was to have them tinned. Those tinned peaches must have been cooked or processed in some way, but I had never had home cooked peaches… it just wasn’t something we ever had, so the idea of them in a pie sounded intriguing and delicious.

Blueberries are a fruit which I don’t think many British people had come across until the last ten or so years, now they are everywhere and people grow them in their gardens too… we tried but our bush died… So the combination of blueberries and peaches was something again which I had never tried.

In Britain custard pies are just that, a tart with a baked custard in it, and a baked custard is somehow different from custard sauce which you pour over puddings… so to use the word intriguing again, the idea of having cooked peaches, with blueberries, and custard, inside a pie was intriguing.

We had cousins come to stay so making the pie was a great idea. I made a sweet pastry, and I admit I used custard powder to make the custard, Bird’s of course, but into the oven it went…

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It was actually all shiny and sparkly with glaze and sugar by the time it was cooked

It was a brilliant success! We all loved it, and I would post a picture of t except we greedily ate it all – we had it with clotted cream as well as the custard inside, just to add an English twist. The cousins loved it so much they put in a request I should make one for the next Christmas party!

Giving the game away

I love surprises! I’m one of those people who do not feel the presents under the Christmas tree, who don’t read the last page of the book before the beginning, who don’t even watch ‘Coming next week…‘ on TV programmes. It really annoys me when other people do ‘give the game away’, tell you what’s in the present with your name on, as yet unwrapped, do tell you who ‘did it’ in the book you’re reading, do tell you what’s happening on next week’s show. What’s even worse is when there is a programme which involves some sort of week by week competition, and someone has found who will be ‘eliminated’ next, or worse still, who will actually win!

What is the point? Why tell people? Why spoil it? I do all I can to avoid having the surprise spoiled; if I see an article about ‘Masterchef’ for example, or ‘The Great British Bake-Off’, I won’t read it and try not to even glance at it in case I inadvertently see something. I even avoid talking about it in case someone else tells me something they have seen, read, overheard. I don’t go on any forums or Facebook/Twitter pages connected to it until I have seen the episode myself.

I should know better… but I went on a Facebook page about ‘Celebrity Masterchef’ to see what other people were talking about the episode which had just been broadcast, and there was someone blatantly saying who had won!! There’s a whole week left to go and some idiot is telling everyone who the winner is. I’m seething! I can’t take it out of my head – I can’t un-know what I know!

It is a small thing, but I am really cross!

Word of the day – rhotic

I found a new word today, a word I don’t think I have ever come across before, rhotic. It means the sound in English spoken by Americans or those from the south-west of England who pronounce the ‘r’ in words such as ‘hard’ and ‘far’… other English accents make an ‘aa’ sound. It’s quite a new word, it only arrived in the 1960’s and I don’t suppose it is one much used… although I did come across it on Facebook! In a conversation about the radio soap-opera ‘The Archers’, someone mentioned the way a character, Eddie speaks. (Mummerset is a pretend country area of England with a south-west accent)

  • B: Eddie often does this. He inserts Mummerset “r”s when none exists in the spelling. Someone who actually does have a rhotacising accent – ie sounds an [r] in a word like “Torrbay” as opposed to Tawbay for other English speakers – would never sound an [r] in the second syllable of Yarmouth, but they certainly would sound the [r] at the end of the first – so [yarmuth].
  • L: and of course, as a Scot, I know all about rolling my Rs  
  • J: Why are rhotic accents sexy? Because they arrrrrr!
  • C:  I have spent a good deal of my life in areas with rhotacising accents (my new word of the day!), originally in Bristol, now in Devon. No one rhotacises quite like a Bristolian ( – from south Bristol.. a north Bristol accent is different). I have never encountered anyone saying “Yarrmirth”, so I concur completely with B.A.

This video gives an interesting introduction to the Boston accent which has the particular feature of non-rhoticity, the non-pronunciation of ‘r’ and an intrusive ‘r’ between words ending in certain vowels, and the next beginning with a vowel, for example the idea is good which becomes the idea ris good:

Causing trouble in an empty house

My husband has a great phrase to describe folk who seem to upset others, either deliberately or without thinking, “S/he could cause trouble in an empty house!” I’m sure you know people who like this,people who say things without caring that they upset others ,speaking their mind or calling a spade a spade, they would say. They seem to be able to provoke others and yet do it with an air of innocence and a sort of I’m-only-saying-this-for-your-own-good look on their face.

I’ve had classes where there have been one or two pupils like this, who while doing nothing actually wrong, or nothing they themselves could be reprimanded for, are able to cause all sorts  of strife and antagonism between others, while standing on the side lines surveying the carnage. I don’t mean this literally, such folk seem to enjoy verbal attrition rather than actual fisticuffs. As a teacher I was swift to target such young people, finding away to make sure they knew that I saw through their outraged innocence when I challenged them on ‘starting it’.

Causing trouble in a n empty house is something I associate with young people, it’s a sign of immaturity to my mind, and so it surprises me when I find adults who seem to relish doing this. I shouldn’t be surprised really, some people never grow up – and I don’t mean that in a complimentary way. Not growing up if you retain a child-like wonder at the world, an innocent delight in simple things, a trust and belief in the goodness of others is a gift. Not growing up when you behave like an attention seeking child who wants to manipulate others and yet remain a pious bystander is annoying at the best, troubling at the worst.

There was a recent spat on a Facebook page I ‘like’… someone made a comment which escalated into a furious exchange of bad-tempered remarks, name-calling and people leaving the page. I made a comment about the foolishness of the whole thing but secretly wanted to write “OI! YOU’D CAUSE TROUBLE IN AN EMPTY HOUSE, YOU WOULD!”

Hey guys — I’m thinking of trying fiction writing… Really, Tim Ferris?

I just saw this posted on Facebook by Tim Ferris:

Hey guys — I’m thinking of trying fiction writing. Any good short-fiction exercises or books you’d recommend highly?

Why does someone of Tim Ferris’s obvious drive, determination and proven success, need to have short-fiction exercises recommended? Apparently his blog has become a publishing clearing house for many now acclaimed writers (so it says on Wikipedia!) He himself has published ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, ‘The 4-Hour Body’ and ‘The 4-Hour Chef’ so he is obviously able to write and able to write very well. So why has he put out this appeal on Facebook?

I notice as I write this he has had three hundred and one suggestions, including mine… do you think he’s going to gather them all together and use them as a guide to writing fiction? If he doesn’t, can I?