Monthly Archives: December 2016

Oh, what’s the bloody point?


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2016

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

And with the snippet of Kipling that’s thumped into the heads of trainee journalists across the English-speaking world, we’re off. Welcome to the Harlot of Wales, a new blog. My blog.

This first post is less of a manifesto than an apologia, or at the least an explanation. I don’t know what the world needs now: Google’s suggestions include “a hero”, “a return to sweetness and decency” and “a jetpack unicorn”, and only a knave would quibble with Bacharach and David’s “love, sweet love”. What I do know is that it hardly needs another blog to join the great unread. So why bother?

Here’s why and a quick word from my other five honest serving-men, too.

WHAT? The Harlot is intended to be a media blog, though I don’t doubt I’ll be using it as a brain-dump for anything else that skewers the interest. Its name is a nod to the famous quote from Stanley Baldwin a phrase pinched from his cousin Rudyard Kipling, as it turns out and to the Herald of Wales, a defunct weekly freesheet in Swansea. Its paper rounds were highly valued when I was growing up, as bundles could be offloaded to local chip shops in return for a free supper. No questions were asked.

WHY? This is the biggie. Aside from a swift experiment in the darkest Noughties, I’ve never blogged. Like most people who write for a living, I have an aversion to giving stuff away for free; and after cranking out words all day, I’ve never much fancied dredging up a few more for kicks and giggles.

I say, I say, I say: Do you like Kipling?

Today, maintaining a blog makes more sense. In the olden days, whenever I came across material that might form the basis of a feature, I’d duly put together a pitch and send it out to editors. Journalism etiquette has changed, and I might as well write a squib for the blog actually getting something out there and use that to gauge whether there’s any further mileage in the idea.

I’m also hoping that this will help to splice together the threads of my work life. As well as journalism and advertising, I now do doctoral research in media history. Every day, the file labelled “interesting but not relevant” gets a bit fatter, and I accumulate more stuff that I’m itching to share. This will be the place to do it.

Then there’s the question of social media, which rots away at my sanity. Time spent on ill-considered arguments, 180 characters at a time, may be better wasted on a more definitively ill-considered blog post.

WHEN? I’ll be posting as often (or as infrequently) as I have something to say, but I’ll aim to slap something up on here at least once a week.

HOW? The Harlot is not a professional operation, and funding isn’t an issue. Overheads are minimal: basically, my time and a nuke-proof hosting plan in Iceland.

WHERE? This comes to you from a small seaside town in South Wales. I’ve lived and worked here since leaving London in 2008, though I’ve never had any Welsh clients and seldom had the chance to write about the country. Yet another reason to operate this blog, perhaps.

WHO? See above. I’ve tarted my way up and down the metaphorical Fleet Street for around 20 years. I’ve been a staffer on three national newspapers, contributed on a freelance basis to most of the others, and written and edited for all sorts of magazines, books and websites. I also work on promotions and advertising for various clients, taking considerable pains to keep my editorial and commercial interests apart. (Is that ever entirely possible? I don’t know. Do your own bloody PhD.)

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