I am very aware that anyone who has been following me, in my various guises over different blogs over the years, will probably be getting a little bit tired of all the name and blog changes I’ve managed. But I’ve also managed to reduce readership nicely over the years, by packing up, sodding off and then starting again with something new (but not really that new), so at least I’m not pissing off as many people now.
And at least this time it was just a name I killed when I’ve had a health break, not a whole blog. And I am always pleased to limit the effects of the darkness that comes with one of those to just the blog, and there’s still a me to come back from it.
Here’s an attempt at an explanation, which nobody has asked for, but it might feel good for me to do.
I blog, and nearly always have, under pen names. A few readers from here might also know and follow me on my photography blog, and even that’s under a pseudonym –although it is the one I use most often, for most of my online presence, and is more me than anything else.
The main reason for remaining effectively anonymous is experiencing an unpleasantness in the real world, after I had first started a blog under my own name early in 2011. We –me and variously Mrs Bryntin, Mrs B, Mrs H, etc., (that’s the same person and her name variously, not various people)– had gone through some turbulence (not with each other). This ended up with a person being convicted and going to prison for committing fraud who, once they were released from a three year sentence, set about a campaign of harassment, using the seemingly innocent information I had shared on that blog to target both of us with hate and vitriol, wherever they could (very easily with that info) find us online. Then, as they lived only a few miles from us, it spilled over into the real world.
It was dealt with, but way before all the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook information and personal targeting scandals, it had completely opened my eyes –and had probably made me slightly obsessive about– the very real necessity to be much more aware of protecting our online privacy.
So now, when searching my real name with various internet search engines, it gives no results at all, apart from finding other different holders of that name, and that’s absolutely how I like it.
Time for a picture to break the block of text up.
I had originally started blogging for having something to do while I was recuperating at home, after having suffered a stroke in late 2010. Initially the stroke paralysed the entire right hand side of my body, and after returning home, post the necessary hospital stay, left me at home in my armchair –mainly dribbling through the half of the mouth that didn’t work yet, and sleeping– for many months afterwards.
When I was awake for a couple of hours, the internet was my entertainment and connection to the world and its ongoing events, while I was gradually healing and renewing things. Things like being able to walk gingerly with a stick, to take the dog for, at first, a two or three hundred metre walk myself, instead of the very kind neighbours coming in to take him twice every day, and generally retraining my body to try to make it all work again.
I probably would hold the record for the left-hand only words-per-minute typing if there was one, but now after eleven years, I’m more or less back to normal. I can’t shake a bottle, or chop up veg as fast as I did (these are right-handed things and my right arm basically doesn’t do what it’s told still… it twitches when it shouldn’t, and doesn’t move when it should) or throw a frisbee accurately right-handed (my brain signals my hand to release it, the message takes too long to get to my fingers, the frisbee goes off into a hedge, I have to chuck a small boy into the hedge to go get the frisbee. I’ve tried left-handed instead, but the result is largely the same). But now, I can both walk (but still with a stick) and speak, and chew without the food falling back out again. And touch-type, two handed. I do run out of steam by about 4pm every day, but that might be because I am now the age that my Grandad was when an eight year old me found it amusing that he had to have his afternoon nap at 4pm.
My wife told me there were recognisable personality changes too. I had got more impatient with people, less empathetic, insensitive, more cynical, she said. Which is how I invented Bryntin in 2014 and called the initial blog ‘The Bryntin Project’. I didn’t agree that I’d had this change myself, so he was always just a character in who I amplified those characteristics more. It was a silly joke, to show her at least I wasn’t really as bad as ‘he’ was, and it was fun to create stuff as him. I have a writing voice in my head for him, and he was allowed to just flow freely and in ways that I find I can only write if I am writing as him. And it got all the negative snark and snide out of me and onto a page, in humour, so it was kind of therapeutic.
Let’s have another random picture. Maybe a cup of tea and a biscuit too.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and at least four different blogs later, when I was having the start of another energy and mental lull that I’ve recognised to be the start of a Relapsing Remitting MS episode (which was diagnosed pre-stroke, in 2005, but was not as immediately life-threatening or aggressively debilitating as that event was). It normally gives me a few days of mental low first –same shit, just the depth varies– with increasing physical exhaustion, then gives me a week or two of dyspraxia and muscle strength issues on top, generally with a slow down in cognitive and communication abilities too. Weirdly, an MS attack normally makes the left half of my body weaker, my whole face drops on the left side, my left eyelid closes by itself, the left half of my lips feels stiff, my speech gets slurred… I find some black humour in this –when the stroke had done such a number on my right side– such that I could joke with the hospital nurses about how I was used to all this stuff, it was just reversed in polarity.
So I blogged that I (as in Bryntin) was taking a break, because experience told me that stuff got dark pretty quickly, and it was probably best to step away from the keyboard and ride it out –probably better described as ‘sitting it out’ actually. I think I’m mentally all over the place anyway since the stroke maybe, very up, very down, but these are definitely the deepest down bits –and it tends to be the time when I am convinced I can’t do this frivolous blog stuff any more and pull the plug completely, so I was trying to avoid that as well.
When I came back from it this time, I felt different. The blog was always written in Bryntin’s style and, perhaps in common with many of you after two years of stress and weirdness in dealing with a pandemic, I was finding putting his sort of face on life hard. He had got softer over the years anyway, I think, but it was getting to be a stretch to play up that breezy but cynical voice, and that attitude. I always deliberately left any personal stuff out of what I wrote as him, either that or what I wrote was made up. Those real details wouldn’t be Bryntin., so being him was mentally setting limits.
I know, it might sound odd to you, especially if you have no problem in being yourselves online anyway –and if I’d suddenly started writing a bit differently, all seven regular readers probably wouldn’t have noticed or cared too much– but I felt he was stopping me being me. I’d already written a few attempts at posts before that I had deleted because they ‘weren’t Bryntin enough’. So I decided to announce his death and free myself of it completely.
Except of course, in the end, I loved him too much for that absolute finality of death –and he’s a bit of me– so at the last minute, I added a get-out paragraph that made out he was in hiding, and only pretending to be dead.
What’s next? Don’t know exactly. It’ll probably settle down and feel broadly similar. I just won’t feel it necessary to always try to be sardonic and funny. I’ve changed the author name to just SG for now, but doubtless I’ll probably tweak that. We’ll also see whether I can still entertain or interest anyone by not trying to be someone else, except you still won’t know my real name and nothing really changes for you. Or I might end up not working anything out and not coming back at all.
And, as usual, it’s all an irrelevant nothing to the world and universe at large.
So, there you are. Not that entertaining or funny, being read by about three people in total I expect, and the first post for nearly ten years not written by the character called Bryntin. Apart from that one time I called myself Scribblans –but it was the same guy, obviously.
Anyway, maybe see you around.