Rewarding behaviour/Things wot I like

Lucky old Neil Clark, eh. He can now add Best UK Blogger to his cyberspace trophy cabinet in yet another somewhat pointless round of backslapping, this time of the virtual variety.

You might be shocked to hear that I’m not a particularly big fan of awards, or award ceremonies in general [1]. The free booze that invariably accompanies them is about the only decent thing that makes them worthwhile, although in one case on my part, led to an incoherent profanity-fest as an acceptance speech. That also forms part of my argument as to why I shouldn’t be put into situations that involve social interaction with people, but I digress.

In terms of judged awards, I’ve never quite understood why one set of opinions are more valid than others? Experts in their fields? Possibly, but I listen to a fair bit of music, and have a broad taste [2]. What makes my opinion any more valid than those of the Mercury Music Prize judges, say? I was slightly underwhelmed by The Klaxons. Does this mean their opinion is more relevant or valid? [3]

Then there’s the mass voting, as these ones were. If I’m not a fan of judged awards, I’m ever less of a fan of voted-for ones. Invariably, you either get a consensus vote of the least worst nominee, or a small, yet rabid/devoted [4] fanbase taking advantage of the multiple-voting rules to skew the result. Ultimately, winning voted-by-Joe-Public awards proves the winner can organise a decent PR campaign in a glorified popularity contest, and little more.

(Although, in the most recent case, choosing between Neil Clark and Iain Dale is somewhat akin to choosing between spearing your own hand or shooting yourself in the foot. Each to their own.)

Once you’ve got an award, what the hell do you do with it then? Use it as a point of small talk at dinner parties? If, in a professional setting, you’re just starting out in your career, then it has its uses for the CV, and perhaps opening a few doors that wouldn’t otherwise be opened. Other than that,there’s only so far it can get you. Trying to build your career on a couple of awards is the equivalent of John Barnes living off *that* Brazil goal for the whole of his England career.

To my mind, Matt Wardman sums up the recent set of blog awards rather nicely:

My impression of people who blog about awards they have won more than – say – twice, is that they have cut the outline of a six-foot penis from cardboard, and are waving it around vigorously in the hope that noone will take a sideways look and reveal how shallow it is in actuality.

My opinion of people who post more than – say – twice, in order to puff there own blog in votes for blog awards is to wonder why they apparently need so much help to cut a penis shape out of a piece of cardboard.

Beyond all of that, I just find people who take blog awards at all seriously rather amusing.

Perhaps, and despite me disagreeing with the majority of what he’s written, I’m taking a slightly Platonic (circa. The Republic) view of this: there’s some kind of universal idea of beauty (including music) or, erm, blogging. Or, to paraphrase Mick Jagger, a song isn’t good or bad. I either like it or I don’t [5].

Anyway, apropos of nothing, I thought this was a good enough point for me to introduce my own piece of mutual backslapping and public onanism to this blog by compiling a list of my Top 10 favourite current blogs. There’s no prize involved and anybody on the list will probably feel a sense of shame in being associated with this blog [6].

There’s also little reason for me to do this, other than I quite like lists. I’m a man. I’ve read Nick Hornby. I used to sit next to my tape player, finger poised on the record button, religiously every Sunday during the Top 40, before compiling my own, alternative Top 40. I didn’t get out much as a teenager, and it probably shows.

If this is any point to the following list, other than for my own list-like enjoyment [7] , it’ll direct all 10 regular readers, and the 250 who visited here following the Ebbsfleet post, to one or two blogs they haven’t heard of. And that, to my mind, is what lists should be about.

On with the proceedings…

1. Stumbling and Mumbling

Chris Dillow has repeatedly said he’s not a fan of being voted onto Best Blogger lists, so my apologies. But S&M (for short) is one of those rare things. A writer who is familiar with the complexities of economics, politics and ecetra, and explains them in a clear, coherent, and entertaining manner. I’ve probably learned more one the aforementioned topics from reading Chris’ blog than I ever did in school, and after every visit I feel a little more intelligent than I did before I clicked through. Occasional gratuitous pictures of cleavage also help.

2. A very clever and exciting place for words to live.

Is it the done thing to put a good friend so high up the list? Probably not, but my list: my rules. I may have worked with Matthew, gone through university with him, and exchanged random offensive text messages when drunk, but it doesn’t stop me being in awe of his writing. Arbitrary humour that’s had me in fits of giggles at the office more times than I’d care to remember. He can write absolutely nothing, and still make me laugh. The only criticism: his turbo dictionary stalled around D.

3. Bad Science

So he has a column in a national newspaper, which he reprints on his blog. So would I, if it were this good. Again, I feel I’ve actually learned more about science (a subject I was utterly useless at) after reading one of Ben Goldacre’s posts. Meticulous, intelligent, well-researched and very hard to argue again. Possibly a beacon for scientific truth and method in a headline-obsessed world.

4. Devil’s Kitchen

I disagree with vast proportions of what the Devil says. His politics are often somewhat removed from my own. We’ve had assorted bloguments [8] in the past, and will probably disagree in the future. And occasionally it does feel as if he’s trying a bit too hard to get outraged. But here’s the nub. There’s only one bloggerI can think of who fisks anywhere near as brilliantly as the Devil. And I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read the Kitchen, disagreed, but can’t come up with any good reasons why I disagree, as he’s lot meticulous and well-crafted in his arguments. Did I mention the fact he’s funny? And swears a lot? And is funny, while simultaneously calling somebody a jug-eared cunt. To be honest, I could disagree with everything else he ever wrote, but I’d still admire the man, not least for his wonderful, foul-mouthed deconstructions of Charles Clarke and Polly Toynbee.

5. Forever Amber

By all rights, I shouldn’t be reading this blog. I have absolutely no interest in fashion, shoes, bags, or neurotic women, and what I do know about these subjects could be written on the back of a Primark receipt. Somehow Amber manages to make these alien subjects, plus updates on her battles at the gym, and anger at those who mock her for ginger hair, absolutely hilarious. One of the few bloggers I’ll make a point of reading as soon as she has a new post. He style, while not unique, is done a thousand times better than most other writers on the same subject, and the fact she can get me laughing at a story about a gym towel puts her high up my list. It helps that I think people with ginger hair are hot.

6. Ministry of Truth

You know I said there was only one blogger who fisks as well as the Devil? This is he. I often wonder where the hell Unity finds the time to meticulously analyse, research, then produce some of the most detailed counter-arguments I have ever seen. A rare, calming, sensible voice in the shrill of the blogospheric bear fit of argument. I have no idea what he does for a living, but his posts put many professional journalists to shame.

7. Two hundred per cent

It was a tough call between this and That Magical Night, but 200% just wins. Passing comment on football is easy. Passing intelligent, and often amusing, comment on football is a lot harder. Reminds me a lot of When Saturday Comes, and as that magazine is only out once a month, and 200% blogs most days, this alone is a reason to celebrate.

8. Rachel from North London

This world needs people like Rachel North. No person deserves to go through what she’s experienced in life, yet no person deserves to be admired more for her steely resolve, her refusal to let matters drop, and her determination. Her book left me with a lump in my throat on several occasions. A fantastic writer, and a blogger I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for, and I pray she never stops blogging or keeping up the fight. If I ever get the chance to meet Rachel, I wouldn’t just offer to buy her a drink, I’d offer a whole crate of wine. No one deserve it more than her.

9. Tim Worstall

I have no idea how many posts he averages a month, but every one of them has something to say. Another blogger who I feel I learn something from after reading his posts, and also one I differ in politics from, yet still feel compelled to read and difficult to argue against. Probably one of blogging’s best-known names, and in Tim’s case it’s an accolade that’s richly deserved.

10. Doctor Vee

An admission. I occasionally skip over some of his posts. But that doesn’t stop Duncan (not a doctor. Not a Vee) being an entertaining, interesting, and down-to-earth blogger. I like the fact he doesn’t stick to one topic, and can happily switch from music to politics to Scotland to his personal life to F1 in successive posts with comparative ease. In fact, any casual F1 fan should make Doctor Vee a must-read. He’s got a huge depth of knowledge about the sport, yet never talks down or over complicates his posts on the matter, and is a great gateway to more in-depth info. I could spend a long time praising his knowledge and writings on other topics, but this post has been long enough. Suffice to say, Vee comes across as a thoroughly normal, intelligent, funny person and if I was compiling a list of Top 5 Bloggers I Don’t Know Yet Would Happily Go Down The Pub With, he’d probably be top.

[1] This is despite picking up a few gongs myself. As the majority of these were team efforts, I feel slightly less uncomfortable picking them up than I have done individual ones, but nonetheless still uncomfortable.

[2] At least, I think to think so. We’ll brush over the time I purchased a copy of Jagged Little Pill.

[3] Not that I’m angling for a music award judging panel slot here. I’d only get hideously drunk on the free booze and suggest Half Man Half Biscuit, Gogol Bordello and Showaddywaddy for every category, including Best Female Artist.

[4] Delete as appropriate.

[5] Ok, I know that’s not the exact quote. I can’t be arsed to look up the exact one at 11pm on a Sunday. Sorry.

[6] Or can shout about it. To which the correct response would be: “Gary who? Ah well, its probably better than being poked in the eye.”

[7] I once had a good 20-minute conversation drawing up The Top 5 Words Beginning With E. Ensconced came out at number one.

[8] See what I did there. I created a new word. Get me.


6 Responses to “Rewarding behaviour/Things wot I like”

  1. 1 doctorvee November 19, 2007 at 1:14 am

    What a nice chap you are. What did I do to deserve that? 🙂

  2. 2 Gary Andrews November 19, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Ah, just writing a good blog, keeping me up to date on F1 news, and generally being a lot more normal, yet also entertaining, than the vast proportion of bloggers. Even if you do drink Strongbow…

  3. 3 Christopher White November 19, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    “Once you’ve got an award, what the hell do you do with it then? Use it as a point of small talk at dinner parties?”

    Only if you do it ironically, otherwise people will think you’re a twat. (Of course by “you’re” I mean “I’m”.)

    They do look quite pretty sat on the mantlepiece mind, especially when you’ve essentially beaten a former editor of to win one. I reckon the CV-bolstering is balls though: nobody much cares. It’s always been the free money I’ve liked. That and the fact that it pisses off certain people.

  4. 4 Gary Andrews November 19, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    I reckon the CV boosting works in a couple of ways. If you’re still relatively low down of the career ladder, you can use the success builds success cliche, and at least it proves you can do something vaguely right. Otherwise, for about a week afterwards, it’s a case of striking while the award iron is still smoking and seeing what commissions and work you can get off the back of it.

    Other than that, the free stuff is really one of the only enjoyable things at award ceremonies. And the free money. I’ve really enjoyed that.

  5. 5 Christopher White November 20, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    I guess my cynicism as to awards’ effectiveness is borne of the fact that I got 1.14 student awards and was shortlisted for two more and don’t have a job. 😉

  1. 1 doctorvee » The meaningless difference between left and right Trackback on November 19, 2007 at 4:28 pm

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November 2007

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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com

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