A belated in memoriam…

Just returned from a couple of weeks based in Kingussie: tired from the M6; body back in the English midlands, head still somewhere meandering one of the endless trails; intending to make a start on a series of posts about selected days and escapades. But, before any of that, an oversight needed to be rectified…

We travelled north on Friday August 4th and there was something about the date that nagged at me; a couple of days later I would remember what it was. A year ago to the day, the blogging community sadly lost one of its finest: he went by the online name of Oldmortality and his blog – witty, erudite, original, thought-provoking, never dull – can be found among the links to the right, under the name One Small Step; OM’s final post was dated 27th July, 2016 and among the comments is one from his daughter confirming that he had passed away. If you’re not already familiar with the blog then I’d urge you to read through the backlog of posts while they still remain available; I still do, and I know I’m not alone. They are unique reflections on a life well lived.

This was where I was when I remembered why August 4th was significant…

It’s the Cairngorm Club footbridge across the Am Beanaidh, which flows north from Loch Einich, and the reason it’s significant is because it’s the spot where Oldmortality once met up with fellow blogger Mike Knipe (whose also excellent blog can be found here: northern pies); their rendezvous is also remembered in the comments attaching to OM’s final blog entry.

Memory jogged, I took a contemplative moment and resolved to do the same every time I’m fortunate enough to pass this way in the future.

Oldmortality loved his music and would often sign off with a link to a tune of his choice. I’m not sure this would have been on his playlist, but it somehow seemed appropriate…

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A goodbye to 2016

So much has been said and written about 2016 that there are probably few, if any, stones left to turn. The level of attrition among well-loved and iconic celebrities seems to have been unprecedented; the shifts in the political landscape certainly caught out the commentators and experts – pollsters included; indeed pollsters in particular. If I’m left with any overriding impression, it’s of a year where seminal, potentially life-changing events seemed to have moved beyond the control of anyone and assumed a momentum all of their own.

Turmoil: it’s not exactly a new phenomenon but it does make me grateful for the cathartic effects of walking among the hills, getting some separation, if only temporarily, from what passes for reality. This year, those have been the best of times; and that’s probably true in most years.

The worst of times? If I had to single out just one, it was the senseless, incomprehensible killing of Jo Cox.

On a personal level, I shall forever miss Leonard Cohen; there won’t be another to fill that particular void, not in my lifetime. Since his passing, I’ve listened to a number of discussions about which was the best cover of Hallelujah – Rufus Wanwright? John Cale? Jeff Buckley? The list, like the debate, goes on…

There’s a custom in football of, in exceptional circumstances, ‘retiring’ a shirt number worn with distinction by an outstanding player: Cruyff, Baresi, Zola, Henrik Larsson as just a few examples. Similarly, every now and again somebody just makes a song their own, for posterity…

jo-cox

Jo Cox : 1974-2016

A happy 2017 to all: perhaps we will get to live in uninteresting times for a while.

The blog parasite

By the way, that’s not some very selective strain of computer virus specifically targeting Blogger and WordPress. It’s me I’m referring to; although it’s taken me a while to realise…

Back in the summer, the outdoor blogging community sadly lost one of its finest – Oldmortality. And there, straight away, that tells its own story: I never met him, never knew him by his real name; only by his blogger username.

His blog, One small step, was (and remains – follow this link) wise, funny, erudite, provocative, irreverent, endlessly entertaining, and all of the many other things you’d want to find in a blog. As if that wasn’t enough, he’d also frequently add links to some exceptionally fine musical treasures.

But here’s the thing: I visited One small step regularly, have read pretty much all of the back posts at some point, still do, and will continue to do so for as long as the link works. But I rarely commented: only a handful of times over the years and that’s true of other blogs as well and for all sorts of reasons. Now I’m wondering if passive reading of the efforts of others, without the mutuality of leaving at least a brief comment is tantamount to taking from the (blogging) community and contributing nothing – or not much – by way of reciprocation. People go to a lot of trouble to put this stuff in the public domain, generally without reward or any desire for it; maybe they deserve better recognition – something a bit more tangible than another tick in the stats counter.

I know some blog sites – this one among them – can make commenting less than straightforward: crossing platforms seems, if anything, to become less intuitive as the social media options continue to proliferate. Measures intended to keep the spammers at bay can be a deterrent to like-minded souls whose only intention is to add a constructive comment.

So, not normally given to the making of resolutions, I’ll break the habit and resolve firstly to comment more regularly on other blogs when I visit them, and secondly to explore ways of making this one a bit more accessible and welcoming.

I hope I’m not breaking too many laws by adding this…