Hang on, wasn’t that a horse?

A chap I know has always been keen on trail hounds. But a young dog can be as likely to piddle on the leg of the starter as he might be to run the course. Like everyone else they have to learn their trade.
Ideally this is done somewhere relatively out-of-the-way, where sharp tongued competitors don’t get the chance to mock your latest exploits. So he and a couple of mates used to set up a trail across our land for their young dogs, just so they could make their embarrassing mistakes out of the glare of publicity.
It was always impressive watching these young dogs run, hell for leather, following the scent. To get a decent length of run the trail had to cross a lane, so one of the dogs’ owners would stand in the lane to stop traffic in case a car came just as the dogs were crossing. I watched with him, we’d opened gates on both sides of the lane so the hounds could just run.
The young hounds came hammering across the field. They passed a group of suckler cows with their calves so fast the cows never noticed them. The calves did and ran a short way after them before falling behind and loosing interest. Then the hounds ran between two Shetland ponies. As the hounds crossed the lane the owner was counting them to make sure no one had got lost. “One, two, three, four, five…Hang on, wasn’t that a horse, seven, eight…”

trail hounds

We’ve all got to learn our trade somewhere. We come into this world with a very limited repertoire of social skills and suchlike and we have to learn them on the hoof.
Now I’m lucky. I wasn’t merely born before the web happened; I was married with kids before the web happened. So my unconvincing chat-up lines and awkward faux-pas have sunk without trace.
But one thing I do know. There is no privacy on the web. Forget what any company says about the settings, once you’ve posted it electronically, you’ve handed it to the world to do with as they want.
Wisdom says that when you send an email, a tweet, a text message, or post something to facebook or whatever; act as if everything you send will be blind-copied to the Sun newspaper. You might not send it to them, but the recipient might, or the person the recipient forwards it to might.

I don’t think people realise just how long the written word lasts or the impact it can have. I’ve been writing for money since the late 1970s, and even now stuff written back then resurfaces in my life. I’ll give you two examples.
The first was a column I did in our local paper, probably about ’79. About a month ago I was having a cataract operation. There were six of us being prepared as a group for surgery and one lady said, “You’re Jim Webster aren’t you.”
I confessed, (but there are two Jim Websters round here and folk do get us confused.) and she told me that in one column I’d said something about Milk Tanker Drivers. Her husband was a tanker driver (I knew him, he collected our milk for years) and when she read the article she was so incensed she wrote a letter to the paper.
However writing the letter meant she actually properly read what I’d written and she discovered that she was agreeing with me. And thirty something years later she got the chance to tell me that she agreed.
Another example is the first article I ever got paid money for. It was about the war between Chile and the alliance of Peru and Bolivia. There was an interesting warship action where the Peruvian Navy’s ship the Huáscar was finally captured. (Look I’m from Barrow in Furness, Warships are important!)

Huáscar

Anyway, unbeknown to me a guy called Paul had been taken with the article. He ended up as a contractor, working in BAE Systems here and joined our wargames club. Earlier this year, thirty-four years after I wrote the article, he and I refought the action, something both of us had been intending to do for the previous thirty-four years.

Occasional google searches have brought up articles I wrote on a type writer and delivered as hard copy which are now on websites as electronic documents.
So next time you’re about to post something, anything, just ask yourself; “I wonder how that’ll look on my CV in thirty years time?”
But then again, the way things are going, those of us who haven’t posted pictures of our genitalia on the web might be regarded with deep suspicion as the unusual ones who are too dangerous to employ.

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4 thoughts on “Hang on, wasn’t that a horse?

  1. willmacmillanjones August 8, 2013 at 11:08 am Reply

    Jim, as usual you are spot on. Posting things online is like standing in a busy market place and yelling yourself hoarse. (Or horse, if your preferences go that way)

    • jwebster2 August 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm Reply

      I’ve seen articles I did for a NZ mag being used as training material for a church somewhere in the Mid West. As a guy once wrote on usnet
      “I’ve seen things you newbies wouldn’t believe. Attack-lusers aflame off the shoulder of rec.arts.sf.written. I watched Cancel posts glitter in the ether near the waikato.ac.nz gateway. All those moments will be lost in time – like beers in the rain. Time to unsubscribe.”

  2. M T McGuire August 8, 2013 at 9:32 pm Reply

    God help the Internet if we all have to post our rudies on I. Phnark. I hear you though. Say nothing on the Internet you wouldn’t say to the person’s face, hat’s my rule.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • jwebster2 August 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm Reply

      Yes, once you’ve reached the age where only someone with the ego of an American political candidate could regard themselves as the body beautiful, you realise that the rules that work well in the real world are there for a reason.
      I’ve seen the trolls frolic since I used to go on usenet back in the 1990s. I’ve watched them try to destroy people, I’ve seen them send anonymous emails to people’s employers.
      And then kids are posting everything and we wonder how come they’re being bullied to death.

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