‘Why ‘bakersdaughterwrites?’ R asked warily. ‘You’re not going to start cooking again, are you?’
It wasn’t my first choice for a blog name, actually. What I really wanted was ‘The Baker’s Daughter’ by itself. And I wanted it with an apostrophe, because I’m a stickler for correct punctuation. The name had come to me in the middle of the night – one of those vivid flashes that wake you from sleep and make you sit bolt upright in the darkness. It left me tingling. It felt like divine inspiration.
It worked on so many levels: my father had been a baker before becoming an economist, so it was correct in a factual sense. It was also a classical allusion, so appropriate for a bookish kind of blog: it’s a line from ‘Hamlet’ delivered by Ophelia in her madness, and reads in full as, ‘They say the owl was a baker’s daughter.’ It’s a direct reference to owls, then. (And deception. And pregnancy too, allegedly. But the owls are more important for now.) The thing is, I love owls – always have. I’m notorious for it. I owned 53 of them at last count. The fact that like Ophelia, I may also be unhinged, no doubt gives the name an added resonance. Anyway, it was perfect.
I rushed to the computer the next morning to secure it. It was not quite as easy as I had anticipated, however. ‘Letters and numbers only,’ the computer chided me on my first attempt. There were compromises to be made. I abandoned punctuation and principles and tried again. ‘Name already in use.’ I went to a different site, and tried it there. It was taken there as well. Inconceivable! I suppose in hindsight it was fairly predictable. I mean, the internet is awash with food and cookery blogs: even the cat follows a couple. There must have been dozens (baker’s dozens, even) of enthusiastic cake and biscuit makers eager to snap up the name before me.
So, I went for my fall-back, ‘Read Wine’. ‘Read Wine’ is the name of my book group. It is also the name of a wine appreciation blog, I discovered – a wine appreciation blog founded by an illiterate, presumably. I toyed with the idea of ‘Read Read Wine’ for a while, but was worried people might take me for a mad UB40 fan. I also considered ‘Read Whine’ but thought that verged dangerously close to ‘communist rant’.
‘Drinking Coffee Elsewhere’ came next. I liked the dreamy sort of feeling it evoked – you know, ‘I’m stuck here at my desk but I’d rather be drinking coffee elsewhere.’ ‘Elsewhere’ conjured up visions of cobbled streets which smelt like fresh croissants, or sundrenched balconies overlooking sparkling blue Aegean seas. I could almost taste the coffee: milky and tepid in the first instance; in the second, a thick, silty, tar-black, sipped from a small white espresso cup. I was delighted when I found this blog name was not in use and grabbed it immediately.
I had second thoughts later on, however. It seemed misleading. For one thing, it suggested a travel blog, and I’m not much of a traveller. More directly, it also suggested someone who knows something about coffee, which bluntly speaking, I don’t. I’ll drink anything, as long as its hot – you could heat up a mug of petrol and serve it to me on a saucer with a piece of biscotti and I’d probably drink it. Would probably ask for a second, in fact.
And then there was the book thing. There’s a well-known book of short stories called ‘Drinking Coffee Elsewhere’ by Z.Z. Packer. It’s a book I own, and quite like – but not enough to name a blog after. I didn’t want to seem to be giving it more prominence in my life than it actually has. There’s also the issue with the narrator of the title story: a black, lesbian, Yale undergraduate who lives off instant noodles to avoid leaving her dorm and cops a year’s worth of psychiatric counselling for announcing on orientation day that a revolver is the inanimate object she most identifies with. I mean if I stuck with ‘Drinking Coffee Elsewhere’ as a title, it would be reasonable to assume that I had something in common with her, right? And I never went to Yale. So that name was wrong too.
I started considering ‘The Baker’s Daughter’ again. I really liked it: it was the only name that felt right. Maybe I could just tweak it a little – add ‘speaks’ or ‘writes’ or something to the end? The extra word would only show up in the address bar, after all. I could make the title on the blog itself whatever I wanted.
So that’s what I did. I’m happy enough with ‘bakersdaughterwrites’ for now. It even has some unexpected benefits – for instance, it makes a neat preamble to any comments or posts I might make on other sites, almost like being announced by a discreet footman. It’s also inspired me to start cooking again (sorry R.)
I often think about that ‘drinking coffee elsewhere’ blog, though, floating orphaned and alone in cyberspace, perpetually blank. It seems untidy and disordered, and makes me feel somehow negligent – as if I’ve prevented it from ever reaching its potential. It reminds me of Victor Frankenstein and the creature he so thoughtlessly created and then abandoned (when I was teaching ‘Frankenstein’ for the HSC, I used to talk about this in terms of ‘irresponsible parenting’ – gulp.)
I would feel better if I could wipe away all evidence of it, make it as if it never existed, but there seems to be no way of doing this. I’ve searched in vain for a delete – or possibly abort – button and am forced to conclude that it is impossible to get rid of a blog once named. I imagine all the thousands of other forsaken blogs out there as well, created in a fit of zeal and then forgotten.
Do you remember the final, haunting scene from Jane Campion’s film, ‘The Piano’, with the abandoned piano resting still and silent on the seabed? The thick grey water trembles around it, making you feel submerged with it. A voice-over accompanies the image, the rhythms flat, limpid and oddly hypnotic: ‘There is a silence where hath been no sound / There is a silence where no sound may be / In the cold blue under the deep deep sea.’ …Poor little blogs: I can’t help but feel sorry for them.
But now I’m just being silly. Time for a cup of coffee…
* Apologies for the clichéd title but no other would do