I had just finished tuning the harpsichord the other day, when my human friend Brian said that I should consider getting an electronic one to save the bother. This was but the last in a series of ridiculous suggestions, which began when he decided that I needed to embrace the various technological advances of the twenty-first century.
The most absurd of his proposals, however, was that I should write a blog. Since I am now obviously doing so, you will doubtless be wondering how he put me up to it.
Before I get to that, you need to know that I am not a total stranger to technology. In fact, I have been using a PC since they first appeared in the early 1980s, when I began writing my memoirs about being a werewolf in the eighteenth century. (In those days, I was known as Lady Llewellyn, the 26th Duchess of Caerfyrddin.) After centuries of writing long letters by hand, I was intrigued by the possibility of making corrections elegantly, without the messy business of ink erasers - you know the kind, which scratch the ink from the paper, likely as not making a hole - or simply striking through the unwanted text and probably making a huge ink blot. Ever wonder what the sand-shaker was for?
In any case, I began with WordStar 3.3. Any of you humans who are old enough to remember WordStar will recall that it was a classic “green screen” programme, where What You See Is Not What You Get. Nevertheless, I loved WordStar, as it really made writing a pleasure instead of a chore. Back in those days, I even bought one of the first “schlepp-top” computers, so that I could write while travelling, which I do a great deal. (In some later post, I may tell you something about my job at MI6. To you Americans out there: MI6 is like the CIA, but with a British accent.)
After WordStar came WordPerfect, also a green screen application but with a real WYSIWYG preview, which greatly saved on wasted paper. At about the same time, Microsoft Word first appeared, but I remained loyal to WordPerfect for quite a long while. Of course, hanging on to antiquated systems is one of my foibles, and has often gotten me into trouble in the past. I was on the wrong side in 1793, for example, and had an unfortunate encounter with a guillotine. (Yes, I got better, thank you.)
I seem to have digressed, as the topic of this post is actually how I am learning to use new technology.
For years, I have been content to use the computer as a glorified typewriter. When someone first told me about the “World Wide Web” back in the 1990s, I was quite sceptical, partly because I am deathly afraid of spiders, but also because it seemed highly unlikely to me that the medium would ever become anything more than a playground for technology enthusiasts. History has proved me wrong yet again, though not quite as badly as in 1914, when I tried to prevent World War One (you see how well that worked). But I digress again. As you know, the Internet has turned out to be more than a passing fad, and in fact I have used it occasionally myself.
Which brings me to the actual point I was trying to make. I was just saying to Brian the other day how much I prefer reading books to reading on a computer screen. He is a former college professor, so I assumed that he would agree with me. Quite the contrary.
“It just goes to show that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” he said.
“I beg your pardon, sir! While I may be three thousand years old, I don’t look a day over forty. And I am most definitely not a dog. That is a term which we werewolves find most insulting.”
“Sorry,” he said, looking around for something made of silver, in case he needed to defend himself. “What I actually meant to say is that you are structurally conservative, which I suppose is to be expected from someone your age. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Look at me, for example. I’m also a dinosaur, born into a world before Microsoft, yet I’ve learned to change with the times. I’ve got four computers, a smart phone, a Second Life account, Twitter, Facebook and a half-dozen other accounts which I don’t even use. It keeps the mind active. Now look at you. Your mind is still stuck in the eighteenth century.”
“That may be,” I said, “but you must admit that the eighteenth century was a more civilised and genteel time than this so-called ‘modern’ world of yours.”
“Your objection is beside the point,” said Brian. “Of course the eighteenth century was more elegant – at least in the aristocratic circles to which you belonged – but you don’t live there anymore. You don’t live in ancient Rome either, and you are always going on about the ‘fish sauce’. I for one am glad that the European Union forbids the sale of rotten fish intestines.”
“It was called garum, and it tasted better than it sounds. So what do you suggest? How can I prove to you that my old wolf-brain is capable of handling the intellectual rigours of the twenty-first century?”
“Start a blog.”
“Blog. It’s short for weblog. You write your thoughts on any subject, and publish them on the Internet for the whole world to see.”
“How frightfully dull. Why would anyone want to read my thoughts on anything?”
“Well, for one thing, you are a three-thousand-year-old werewolf who has been around the block a few times, so you have a few interesting stories to tell. I loved the one about the human sacrifices at Stonehenge when you were a Druid priestess, or how you quite literally ate your first girlfriend. Furthermore, your age...uh, I mean experience...gives you a unique perspective on things. Take espionage, for example. You can compare and contrast the spying methods you once used in the service of William Pitt and Frederick the Great to those employed today by MI6.”
“Dull, dull, dull.”
“Alternatively, you could tell us about the Sisterhood of the Wolf. I’ll bet there aren’t many humans who are aware that there is a secret society of female werewolves living in their midst.”
“That’s because we always eat the humans who find out.”
“But you haven’t eaten me yet...”
“I’m tempted every time you call me a dog. Just joking. I haven’t eaten you because you remind me of my father.”
“Which father was that?”
“The one in 1735. Of all my fathers in all my incarnations over all these centuries, I loved him the most. He was the only one who ever learned my secret, and he never stopped loving me, despite what I had become.”
“Don’t you think that the world might want to hear about that? How a father could love his daughter, even after discovering that she was a bloodthirsty werewolf?”
“Then write about that. Or write about Lysandra.”
“Please don’t mention her name. You really don’t want to see a grown werewolf cry.”
“Sorry, but I really must ask. When did you last see her?”
“February 1945. In a Gestapo prison in Dresden...”
Now I really did start to cry. Brian tried to comfort me, but when the sobbing began to turn into a kind of snarling, he thought the better of it and returned quickly to his chair.
“Andronica, you can’t be sure that she died during the firestorm. In all the confusion during and after the bombing, it’s no wonder you were separated. But if you managed to escape the inferno, perhaps she did as well.”
“Then why hasn’t Lysandra sought me out in all these years?”
“Maybe she simply can’t find you. After all, you do work for MI6 under an assumed name, and that means you’re not the easiest person to locate. You’ve got to find some way to advertise your presence. Use the Internet.”
“You mean something like...what did you call it...a blog?”
“Exactly. Even if your blog is dull, perhaps Lysandra will read it and find you this way.”
“Very well, I’ll give it a try. But you must promise to help the old dog learn the new tricks.”
“You said it, I didn’t. As far as being old, well, I’d peg you at a youngish thirty-five. And thank God you haven’t got that dog smell.”
So there you have it: how Brian convinced me to start this blog. As you’ve just learned, I am only doing this so that Lysandra will come looking for me (if indeed she survived the firestorm in Dresden). But while I’m at it, I can tell some of my stories as well, just for fun. Since none of you humans will believe that any of this is true, I won’t get in trouble with the Sisterhood for writing it.
If you have any questions or special requests (e.g. the human sacrifices at Stonehenge, the real reason for the Black Death, or why Mozart’s first name was Wolfgang), please don’t hesitate to ask.