Chain mail (noun) 1. a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. 2. (also chain letter) letter intended to be copied and passed on to as many recipients as possible.
Just as with the knight in the image above there will be no links to the first definition of chain mail (he’s wearing plate armour, you’ll note). There will instead be a short discussion about a particular kind of chain correspondence: blogging awards.
Now, any online commuter these days will be familiar with pleas to copy and repost or somehow share text portrayed as of vital importance. Old timers may recall the emails that urged you to share information with a given number of correspondents, the passing on of such messages bringing you massive amounts of good luck but with failure to do so resulting in the breaking of the chain and dire consequences. Anyone on Facebook will have come across the urgings to copy and paste text (which you slightly alter) to all your Friends, though the incentives to do so are often less crude than the simple threat of the arrival of one kind of luck or the other.
The blogging community has its own version of this unsustainable pyramidal lovefest: the blogging award, awarded by bloggers to other bloggers. The most common is the Liebster award but there are quite a few other ones. Now I normally find this an annoyance as it commonly involves work in adapting wording before the next stage, work I’d rather expend on bookish matters. The best argument I’ve seen in its favour is that it can help promote deserving blogs. That’s as may be, though I personally doubt that such awards are as effective as claimed.
For me, then, my response is usually ‘Thanks, but no thanks’; as with most things in life, the key question is nearly always What’s in it for me? Rather selfish, I know, but that’s how basic human nature works — there’s no such thing as pure altruism, though some people do approach this ideal. For me to get involved in something I have to be intrigued, have my curiosity piqued. And so it proved with …
The Mystery Blogger Award
The Mystery Blogger Award is billed as an award for “amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get.” Now I — and no doubt you too — will recognise that this is sheer flattery of the most generic kind: “one of the best out there”? Really? The award, created by Okoto Enigma, is supposedly “for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.” It’s less love and passion with me, more laugh and impatience.
Now here’s the Big But. BUT, in this case, Calmgrove was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by the wonderful flash fictioneer Petra at Inkbiotic, for whom I have great respect due to her imaginative creative writing and general good sense. And I was intrigued by the tinkering she’d done to the standardised text to personalise it (a prerequisite for awarding such awards). So — against my usual judgement — I’ve decided to give it a go. Excuse the following formalities:
List of instructions for nominees:
Display the award logo on your blog.
Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
Mention the creator of the award and provide a link.
Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
Answer 5 questions from the nominee.
Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including one weird or funny question.
Share the link to your best post.
Okay, here we go.
Three things about me
- I saw Queen Elizabeth II travelling in her golden coach down The Mall at her Coronation in 1953. I was four years old. I asked my mother where the Queen was going. She said, Just down the road to a roundabout and then coming back past here to her palace. What she didn’t tell me was that Her Maj had to go through a long coronation service first. We were waiting rather a long time for her return.
- For most of the first ten years of my life I lived in Hong Kong, first in Kowloon, then on the island. My father’s employment as a marine engineer meant the family got to visit countries as various as Japan, the Philippines and Thailand before I hit my teens. The result is I’ve a ragbag of isolated memories: deer in Kyoto, a glass-bottomed boat for viewing coral in the South China seas, a snake farm in Bangkok …
- I started learning the piano aged 5 from a Russian émigré teacher — “Bach, Bach, and more Bach,” was her parting shot — and after a lifetime of exams, diplomas and teaching I still keep up my technique by accompanying instrumentalists and singers for concerts, competitions and exams.
- Where did the idea for your blog title come from? What does it mean?
Calmgrove is a default blog name: the first four letters are from the four forenames my parents chose to lumber me with (clue: first name Chris) and the ‘-grove’ is the second half of my surname. CALM then is a good example of nominative determinism as, temperamentally, my inclination is to be exactly that. (I’m also inconsistent.) Nothing to suggest it’s about books though.
- What are your plans/ambitions for 2017?
I’m essentially — despite a predilection for social media — a very private person. I’ll go as far as revealing that I plan to continue to live, to laugh and to love. As far as blogging goes, my plans are … more of the same.
- If you could download any file of knowledge to your brain (Matrix-style) what would you choose?
Hmm, this is a bit like that question What would your superpower be? As the ‘download’ aspect somehow precludes changing the world for the better — universal peace, anyone? — I’d go for being able to accurately recall the notes for every piano piece I’ve ever learnt, so as to play them all from memory.
- What do you find difficult that other people find easy?
That’s an easy answer: I find it difficult to remember names of people I meet. In fact, there’s often a real disjuncture between my recognising an acquaintance and recalling their name, even if I’d only been introduced to them moments before. I’ve even forgotten my partner’s name on one famous occasion. And yet I have fewer problems with people I’ve never met, such as politicians, authors or actors whose names appear in print.
- What modern saying or common language error gets your hackles up?
Goodness, where to start? I suppose I find it irritating when the traditional British English way of pronouncing some slightly less than common words is superseded by North American pronunciations. Surveillance I always knew as ‘surveyance’ and not ‘sur-vail-unce’, harass as ‘harris’ and not ‘her ass’, covert as ‘cover’ with a ‘t’ and not ‘overt’ with a ‘c’. But that’s just me being a stick-in-the-mud; it suggests that I’ll have to go to the end of the queue, though maybe that’ll be “the end of the line” in the near future.
My ‘best’ post on Calmgrove? I’m going with ‘Time to Read’ which as well as being the most ‘liked’ post of 2016 was also the one that produced the most response from bloggers — which, let’s face it, is the lifeblood of blogging, especially when it’s both thoughtful and stimulating.
Remember, I’m not at all in favour of corresponding by chain, so the following ten bloggers are ABSOLUTELY under no obligation to respond, to take up the challenge or to take any notice WHATSOEVER of their nomination. But if the spirit of these awards (what is a Mystery Blogger anyway?) is to promote worthy bloggers and their platforms, well, the following are all very worthy.
P.S. These are in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, not even alphabetical, so resist seeing any favouritism in them: I’ve only chosen bloggers who — I think, and hope — won’t take umbrage at being involved in this exercise or, at the very least, won’t unfollow me out of pique. If I haven’t nominated you don’t be offended — I’ve assumed you’re too busy or much less frivolous than moi — but you can still join in if you want to …
- Simon at Travels in my Own Country: reviews, travel, food, reflections
- Sari at The View From Sari’s World: Shakespeare, politics, life
- Lizzie at Lizzie Ross: writing for kids everywhere, and the occasional review
- Leslie at Colonialist’s Blog: rhyming punster and occasional ranter
- Lynn at Word Shamble: fantastic flash fiction
- Dale at Earth Balm Music: music and pretty much anything else
- Gert at Gert Loveday’s Fun with Books: fun and, er, books
- Lynne at Echoes of the Past: exploring the past in text and pics
- Stefy at e-Tinkerbell: literature, politics and whatever intrigues her
- Joseph at Implied Spaces: asemic poetry and altered images
My four serious — plus one frivolous — questions
- What three words best describe your blog?
- In your opinion is the world going to hell in a handcart?
- What would distress you more, the loss of your books or web connectivity
- Excluding English, what should be the world’s lingua franca?
- What piece of music would be the soundtrack of your life?
I’ll leave it up to you to decide which of the five questions was the “weird” one.