Saturday, September 01, 2007

Life of Brian

Of course, I never knew Brian. Not in the way I know family, friends, colleagues or even the nice lady who works in the mom 'n' pop store where I buy milk and mosquito repellent. I just knew the basics about him: that he lived in Donegal; that he worked in advertising; that he was married with a seven-year-old son. And of course that he was dying of pancreatic cancer, which is why he started the blog in the first place.

Maybe it wasn't a great blog. He never got the hang of links, or tags or blogrolls. The spelling and grammar could have used some attention. But, hell, why should he have cared about little things like that? As he said, his mission was "trying to squeeze the sweetness out of every second".

He was diagnosed in early April, and they gave him between six and twelve months. He didn't even get that. He died yesterday. And as I read his last post, and the bad news from his friends, and the comments from those who knew him and those who didn't, I realised that this is what blogging is about. All the whining about whether blogging is taking over from journalism is an arcane backwater, the preserve of crap hacks who can't stand the heat. It's something bigger.

Patroclus calls it a conversation, which is very true. But there's something else going on. Brian's illness and death obviously affected a lot of people. But through his blog, the ripples went out just that little bit further, so a few more of us got a taste of the quiddity of Brian. Yes, the posts and the comments were a conversation, but the whole thing acted as a sort of amplifier, bringing what can only be described as Brian-ness to a wider audience.

"Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night."
-- Dylan Thomas

"Only connect." -- E.M. Forster


Ruben Bike said...

Hi... nice blog

patroclus said...

That is all very sad. I remember you mentioning Brian's blog before, but I didn't want to look at it after everything I'd just been through with my mum. I'm glad it brought Brian some solace and some new friends and supporters and something else to concentrate on.

You're right too, it does put the whole supposed media vs. blogging thing into perspective - the vast majority of blogs aren't written by people who want to do journalists out of a job; they're just people sharing thoughts and experiences, chatting with existing friends and making new ones.

The next time I see someone asking what blogging is 'for', I'll point them to this post.

Tim Footman said...

Thank you, Ruben, and welcome. Unfortunately my Spanish extends not much further than "Please show me the way to the Sagrada Familia", but I can still see from your blog that you are a man of excellent taste (Mick Harvey, Jim Jarmusch, Joy Division, etc).

Yes, Patroclus, I did think of your recent loss when I read Brian's blog. One thing that I do find slightly unnerving is that his upbeat "ABOUT ME" is still there. It's a bit like those posthumous video messages you can have played at your funeral. Or Bernard Manning's auto-obit.

amyonymous said...

How sad, but also how cool for Brian that he connected with so many people before he died.

i was in japan for 2 weeks and come back to review all the blogs i read, find it a daunting task, but also feel as if i am reconnecting with friends (honey, i'm home!).

each blog gives me a different connection: yours keeps me connected to Asia and indirectly to friends who moved to thailand this summer. another blog has me connected to a woman my age who goes to all the LA music clubs and seeks out new bands.

thanks for writing about Brian; it was heartwarming to read his blog and the final comments from his real and online friends.

Tim Footman said...

Hi Amy, welcome home. Looking forward to your Japan posts. I was in Tokyo in December - check out my archive if you're interested.

Valerie said...

I like to think that the Internet makes us more human.

It's that belief that has kept me such a vocal proponent of networked communication for the last 25 years.

Tim Footman said...

It's thanks to the work of people like you, Valerie, that the humanising properties of the Net become feasible - as people who don't define themselves as 'techies' join the party.

Anonymous said...

Hello Tim,
I was very suprised to see your name as it is the first time I have seen Footman in the news. I am English, living in Brazil for many years and have always been interested in my family tree. Maybe there is a possibility of us being related, as my name is Barbara Footman.
I would be very interested in hearing from you.
My e-mail is

BiB said...

Yes, that is sad and I'm glad you'd alerted me to his blog, Tim. In case you haven't noticed it, a link to an interview with him has been put up so you can hear his voice and thus make him even more real. RIP.

Tim Footman said...

Barbara: have mailed you.

Yes, that's a nice interview, BiB. He does sound like a great bloke.

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