Virginia Barton

6 May 2013: Welcome — and this is no blog!

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6 May 2013


This is no blog. Perish the thought.  Such an ugly, lumpish word. Am I the only person in the entire world who objects to it? I need an alternative.

How about Cyberdiary? Or Biospace? The former sounds like pointy ears Spock’s reminiscences and the latter a green pesticide for a glasshouse.  But, says you, everyone knows what a blog means. Everyone knows what gaga means and it’s still a hideous word, something to do with “g”.

What about Posts scripta? Hello! Or Pensées? But the one is pretentious and the others already bespoke. I would have liked Logbook, in memory of the heroic loser Scott, but this is no book. Nuggets won’t do either – there’s that hard g again, neither will Jottings or Chatter.

I’m rather tempted by Bin… but it could be mistaken for Trash.

So I shall dredge up a decent old word not often used these days but which is ideally suited to the purpose without having to use the “b” word.





In 1720, in a Letter of Advice to a Young Poet, Jonathan Swift wrote:

“. . . A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories:’ and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there . . .”

The few and insignificant thoughts are exactly what will be found  in Commonplaces.

No cash prizes for thinking up a better word but suggestions always welcome.




But this first item is far from insignificant. Have you ever actually met someone who has had a kidney transplant? 44-year-old Sean had one last week and is already back home. Magic.

Some brave person remembered to sign up as a potential donor, or an even braver relation gave permission. If I were Sean I’d want to know who it was that gave this wonderful gift, but I expect he’s just grateful.




(Is Commonplaces rather fey? Trying too hard? Do we all hate it?)






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