Blogging Part 4: Etiquette Part II

That little badge of excellence.
That little badge of excellence.

Metaphorically strolling through the recent entries on the Freshly Pressed page, I noticed a disturbing trend. Some of these recent winners of that coveted page placement aren’t responding to their comments. They are responding to a few, but not many.

When I got Freshly Pressed last year, I tried my damnedest to answer every single person who commented. I would have continued doing so if I hadn’t had a heart attack and wound up in hospital and almost dying. At that point my blog and getting Freshly Pressed was forgotten. I think it would be safe to say that the only things that existed in the world for me at that point was the hospital.

If I remember correctly, when I came home four days later, full of scars, stitches and medication, the first thing I did was to check my blog and answer comments.

I can hear a lot of folks saying now, “What makes you think that what you have to say on the subject is worth reading! You don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers.”

And they would be right.

But what I do have is appreciation, manners and courtesy. And a real idea of time.

I have quite a lot of time. I’m ill-heath retired and I don’t have another paying job to go to. I am writing/hosting for other web sites, but that is non-paying and not enormously time-consuming. I do all my own housework (But honestly? How much mess can one bloke, on his own, make?)

I do my laundry, cut my grass, run errands. But all of these things, as a rule, don’t take hours.

Stop shifting in your seats and looking at your watches! I am making a point here!

But where I have a lot of time, most folks do not. They have full-time jobs, children to raise, an entire family to clean up after, hobbies to pursue and lives to lead. If one of these people take the time to read or like or comment; they are making a statement.

They are saying, I like what you’ve just written, or your point of view, or how you write. By commenting, they’ve taken even more time out of their busy lives to say something.

If these busy people can take the time to comment? You can take the time to respond. Don’t let getting Freshly Pressed make you forget your manners or, more importantly, your appreciation.

If you are like me, you would keep writing your blog, even if no-one liked, commented or reblogged your work. But it is precisely those little things that make blogging more satisfying and enjoyable.

Try to remember that in future you Freshly Pressed bloggers. I’ve been there and I’m telling you; only a heart attack kept me from responding back to everyone who commented on my Freshly Pressed post.

Etiquette is not just about leaving comments, it’s also about responding to them.

Photo on 27-03-2013 at 09.03
All advice given with a pinch of salt, the same way it should be received.

An English Village Highstreet – Old and New

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What used to be my favourite place in a village and the hub of activity for village events, the Pub.

In 1990 I came back to England after a four and a half-year stint in Holland. My then wife and I were amazed at how quickly the country had changed in such a short time. She was a “local” girl and we’d moved to a section of country that wasn’t her hometown.

Back then the USAF had a base outside the small village of Woodbridge. The village enjoyed having the “Yanks” here as they funnelled a huge amount of money into the local economy. No one was more upset than  local commerce about this loss of revenue when the base closed down in 1993.

I came to the village today on personal business. I’d been yesterday and as I did not know where I was going I took a somewhat scenic tour of the village. It had been quite a while since I’d been here and that was on the not very pleasant business of attending a work colleague’s funeral.

A tragic year, I lost three colleagues in the short span of six months. The small community of Prison Officers were reeling with the shock of losing so many friends way too early.

Today’s business was nowhere near as unpleasant and I noticed how much the village had changed from when I first got here in 1990 and how it looked today.

The village Information sign. You are here.
The village information sign. You are here.

The village is still an odd mixture of old and new; foreign and domestic; timely and faded. I took my iPhone 5 and took a slew of shop sign pictures and shop fronts. These images show much better than I could ever describe the dichotomy that is the High Street (main street) of a typical English village.

Sitting here in the ‘village’ Costa Coffee that would not have been here a few short years ago, I’m savouring my coffee while I savour the irony as I write this post on my iPad.

I’ll finish up with a few images of the village called Woodbridge and hopefully you’ll see the old and the new; and how they mix together.

The quaint.
The quaint.
The village shop, if there was ever a shop constant, it would be the Co-operative Store.
The village shop, if there was ever a shop constant, it would be the Co-operative Store.
The european influence.
The european influence.
The traditional.
The traditional.
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The new.
Considering that the word "gob" means your mouth, this is the funniest sign for a real estate agency ever.
Considering that the word “gob” means your mouth, this is the funniest sign for a real estate agency ever.
The ubiquitous Indian food restaurant.
The ubiquitous Indian food restaurant.
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More tradition in the way of lovely fresh baked goods. When I first came to England you could buy two loaves of freshly baked bread for under 20 pence.

The Last Demo Tape

*Looking over my previous post I was reminded of the last time I submitted a demo tape and the consequences.*

I used to read The Stage newspaper religiously for the job advertisements and auditions that were going. I wasn’t interested in the Stage acting portion of the paper. I had two reasons for not even considering stage work: 1) It had been years since I’d performed live anywhere and 2) The only decent paying jobs were in London and I lived a good hour and forty minutes away.

The Stage did have ads for the telly and for film auditions; they also featured voice-over companies that were “desperate for new blood.” Despite the rather ominous tone of the advert, I rummaged around and found my last ever demo tape.

I generally checked all my “demos” before I sent them out; listening to them from start to finish. For some odd reason I decided to only listen to the intro and not the rest of the tape. Satisfied that all was well, I popped it into a cassette posting envelope and sent it to the company. I enclosed a short CV and a covering letter. With my current lack of response, I did not expect to hear back from them.

And I did not; at least for a long time at any rate.

Coming home from work one day weeks later, I noticed another cassette envelope on the table. It was addressed to me. I opened it and there was my tape and a short letter. The letter went something like this:

Dear Michael,

You sound like an incredibly talented man. I would recommend that the next time you send a demo out, you get it professionally done. When you’ve had a proper tape made, please send it to me. I am sure we’ll be able to find work for you.

Sincerely,

Blah-blah

I went mental. “Nobody,” I shouted, “Nobody sends the tapes back. How insulting is that?” I carried on in that vein for some time. I was furious. Professionally made? What did she think that was? Chopped liver? I’d spent a fortune getting those damn tapes mastered, reproduced, and packaging them for posting all over the place…

I grabbed the offending tape, envelope and letter and tossed them in a drawer in the wall unit. I did not look at them for over a year.

A friend that I’d done some scripting work for and the odd training and promotional videos rang me out of the blue; he’d lost my demo tape and wondered if I had another one as he had a client who was interested. I answered in the negative; I’d sent the last one out last year. Ringing off, I remembered the tape I’d gotten back the year before.

I searched for the damned thing everywhere, until my then wife reminded me about the wall unit.

Found it. I started to ring Phil when I spied the letter that had so offended me. I popped it into the player to see if it was alright. Sure enough 45 seconds into the tape it started messing up; skipping and dragging. It was uselessly buggered up and the only tape out of the entire batch that was.

I ripped the tape out of the machine and flung the damn thing across the room. So the lady from the company was not being rude or capricious, she meant what she said; the quality of the tape was not “professional” at all. And she’d left the door open over a year ago to send in another tape.

I sat down with a cigarette in one hand and a coffee in the other. I knew I didn’t have any other tapes left. I’d lost Pat’s number and he’d moved his studio a year or so back and I’d lost the address. Pat wasn’t “in the book” so I had no way of tracing him. I’d misplaced the Master DAT and to this day have no idea where it is. The reel to reel, which just took up space, was relegated to the bin.

As I sat there smoking and drinking coffee, I decided that anything that worked so hard against me was not an obvious career path. Despite my rave reviews from the AFN community (a few of the adverts I did for them won awards) and my doing little projects like fronting videos and training tapes; fate or karma or something really did not want me to succeed in this area.

The last thing I ever did was to read a magazine for the blind onto tapes produced and distributed by the East Anglian Daily Times newspaper. And that voluntary job, like all the rest, ended too soon; future magazines were read by a group of “lovie’s” from the local theatre group.

I decided to concentrate on my acting and signed on with two agents in Norwich for extra work. Suffolk was the location for a lot television programs at that time and I figured I could at least get my mush on the telly screen.

I mean, really; who wanted to set in an air conditioned sound-proof booth with a bottle of water and a script anyway. Who cared if it was “money for old rope?” No one got to see you and you weren’t acting anyway. In what seemed like a good sign, I got a call just one week later from one of my new agents.

I was to be an extra on Lovejoy and the filming location was just about a 45 minute drive away. It paid the princely sum of 75 pounds for a half day’s work and I’d get to meet Ian McShane and the rest of the cast.

Now this was more like it.

The Lovejoy original cast:
Chris Jury
Phyllis Logan
Ian McShane
Dudley Sutton