Like Zola, I have been cogitating [reflectively agitating myself] about the vast blogosphere and the tiny corner of it occupied by the Awkward Squad. In what way is our little ring ‘awkward’? Are we merely awkward individualists, or is there scope and ambition for concerted awkwardness?
In a memorable phrase, A.L. Rowse once said [in a letter to The Times] that “those who believe nonsense must expect awkward consequences”. I forget the context, and to my mind he hadn’t really thought it through – because the really significant and lasting ‘awkward consequences’ are usually those inflicted by the nonsense-believers upon those unfortunates who don’t share their beliefs, as we are now seeing all too clearly in the weird world that is 2007.
The Awkward Squad itself is a consequence of growing dissatisfaction with the way the Guardian’s CiF site operates. Some of us were more and more disillusioned with it as a useful and honest discussion forum [because of the hypocritical censorship] and regrouped around Big Pike when he suggested a blogring. I for one was far from clear as to what a blogring is, and how it differs from a loose federation of friendly blogs. I wonder what others of the ‘Famous Eight’ had in mind when they signed up? I suppose I envisaged us as a flotilla of little boats clustering around Commodore Frank’s racing yacht, about to set sail under his skull and crossbones upon a joint expedition of discovery, foray and pillage.
So far, this hasn’t happened. We have happily developed our individual styles, and enjoyed a warm glow of camaraderie, but so far no cruising orders have emanated from the Commodore. Such specifically Awkward Squad activity as there has been has mostly occurred on his site, taking some unexpected directions. The criteria for admitting new squad members was debated, and an unsuspecting applicant was pounced upon and mauled with such fury that he must have ended up feeling more like a wounded Tigger than a prowling Tyger. An – I should have thought – relatively uncontroversial request for squad support for a charitable effort for one member’s pet charity turned into a ferocious brawl about the nature, motivation, and desirability of charitable giving which must have left the applicant feeling pretty bruised.
These two incidents struck me as bloody-minded rather than just Awkward and – although they were not sparked off by an Awkward Squad blogger - left me increasingly confused as to what the Ring is for, and where it intends to go. I would be most interested to hear what other Awkward Squadders, and commentators on AS blogs, think. What is it that makes the Awkward Squad more than just a group of friendly people who enjoy chit-chatting with one another? What do we exist for? Are we seriously Awkward, or merely Cussed?