Dabbler Diary – The Three Faces of God

A shortish Diary this week to welcome you to the new-look Dabbler. I’ve been busy – though not as busy as Worm, who has worked tirelessly in his spare time to drag this beloved blog into its latest incarnation. You will know that we were down for more than a week; what you may not know is that prior to that we had been subject to a series of hacks, malware attacks and general ongoing expensive timewasting misery, such that it would have been odd indeed if we didn’t at dark moments wonder whether keeping the old D going was really worth the bother.

(After the second debilitating hack in September, which occurred just after I’d spent a late night putting a Nick Groom post together just in time for Michaelmas, I observed to Gaw that I felt death, however agonising it might be, was too good for the fat spotted virus-making geekgits who so pointlessly vandalise people’s labours of love. He replied that they already live in a Hell of their own making, which did console me.)

But here we are again, and if you’re glad about that then you should point your thanks Worm’s way.

We’re not quite finished on the rebuild. There’s a fair bit of mechanical work behind the scenes to do, on the archives, profiles, all sorts of links and widgets. The biggest innovation is The Squabbler, which will be a sort of blog-within-a-blog for short, sharp postages and debate.

In the meantime, the posts will start to roll again. This week we will be bringing you, amongst other goodies, the first parts of a major new series from Jonathan Law on a quite extraordinary family, and we’ve even published an ebook to accompany it. It’s awesome, as you’d expect from JL.

Onwards and upwards, and thanks for your patience.


At Temple Meads the other day I bought a copy of The New Statesman to read on the train to Paddington. I don’t often do that because I’m a Spectator subscriber and buying the other one is a bit like going to watch Everton when Liverpool are playing away and vice versa (which is something that in fact my father did do for a bit in the late 1960s – there’s probably an impolite word for it). But I wanted to read Grayson Perry’s piece about the ‘Default Man‘, as Perry can be quite witty and insightful.

Should have saved my money. The thesis, such as I can make out amidst a whole load of scattergun points about two-piece suits and whatnot, seems to be that the British world has been made by and for Default Man, defined as white, straight, middle-class and male, which description apparently fits only 10% of the population. To which the reply is: ‘And?’

Let’s take those elements in turn. First, for simple reasons of demographics it would be mighty curious if the majority of the influential people in Britain’s long history weren’t white. Given the percentages, it would also be odd if they weren’t mostly heterosexual. As to ‘middle-class’.. well what about the toffs? That leaves us with ‘male’. So, to sum up, society is traditionally patriarchal. Meh.


Both of my daughters are keen artists. My five year-old C combines a keen eye and steady draughtsman’s hand with an unfathomable mind. “I’m going to draw God,” she announced the other week. “Very well,” I said, keen to see what she’d come up with. I could not have anticipated the result, which turned out to be a sort of Holy Trinity. When I asked her to explain the picture, she answered with weary patience. “That’s God on the Inside, that’s God on the Outside, and that’s God with His Shoes and Gloves on.” Behold:



Last week I had a dose of food-poisoning (some Mexican chicken thighs, I think). I woke up on Sunday morning and quickly realised I was in trouble. A couple of immodium tablets later I fell into a strange and delicious sleep which lasted for many, many hours and I dreamt dark, bowelly dreams.

I dreamt that I was lying submerged just below the surface of a shallow pool with the weight of a skinless elephant pressing me down. I dreamt of Ethrelfroth, the Stinking King of some medieval realm, whose throne doubled as a commode and who sat all day delivering justice between twisted bouts of neck-stretching excretion. I dreamt of Obi Wan Kenobi, whose death left no corpse, only a brown robe descending, the soft collapse of which filled me with unnameable horror as a child. But in my dream a giant painted doll’s face lay amongst the brown folds, which were on the pavement outside Buckingham Palace, and then the pavement itself collapsed and down the face and robes tumbled to another pavement, and another and another, taking my stomach with them. I dreamt of The Three Faces of God. I dreamt, at last, of nothing.

And when I woke up I felt a lot better, and I had a piece of toast. With marmite.

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20 thoughts on “Dabbler Diary – The Three Faces of God

  1. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    October 13, 2014 at 09:58

    Three cheers for Worm, over and above the call of duty old chap, steady the old nerves gentlemen, light at the end of the tunnel and all that, nil desperandum. Bear in mind, when the ghouls are busy at the keyboard, at least they aren’t prowling the streets in flasher’s macs.

    C should fax a copy to Dawkins, demanding the complete withdrawal of his entire cabinet of theorem.

  2. henrycastiglione@hotmail.com'
    October 13, 2014 at 10:21

    What was funny about the Grayson Perry thing is that he is himself white, male, middle-aged and, despite a penchant for wearing a dress, heterosexual. Whether he is middle class or not is difficult to ascertain. He may have been born working class but seeing as he now judges the Turner, makes a fair bit of money and writes editorials for the NS, you can safely say that he’s no longer. Oh and he likes to wear women’s clothes. What could be more Establishment that that?

  3. Worm
    October 13, 2014 at 10:57

    Great to have to site up and running and the Dabbler Diary back- Let’s hope that the accursed hackers leave us alone this time!

    Good name for a poetry anthology ‘A Brown Robe Descending’

  4. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    October 13, 2014 at 11:20

    Measuring the different social classes is that most inaccurate of sciences (except when practised by Cleese, Corbett and Barker,) accuracy of colour is measured by the colour itself plus or minus shades of the colour so, say, ‘RAL702 minus one shade lower’ defines it’s adherence, or not, to the standard.

    Would a similar configuration work for social classifying, replacing the current pigeon-holing system greatly enjoyed by we British. “I say, that chap over there, looks suspiciously like working class to me, plus or minus two bottles of Brown Ale and a betting slip,” “Oi, that toffee nosed git in the corner, bet he’s posh, lives in a big house, plus or minus a a couple of en suites.”

    • Worm
      October 13, 2014 at 11:41

      It used to be that posh people had Range Rovers, but the builder in the office next door to me has a top of the line black one, and a bentley; and he lives in a bungalow and takes part in MMA cage fights. It is all very confusing.

    • markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
      October 13, 2014 at 11:41

      I think you might be on to something there, Malty. Although, given that we already split the three main classes into three separate sub-classes, the refining might end up being excessively exquisite.

  5. markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
    October 13, 2014 at 11:47

    Valiant and noble work, chaps. Such selfless giving by the Givers humbles a mere Taker such as I.

    Gaw is quite right about those inadequates who would strive to be your nemesis. Could you stand living your adult life in your childhood bedroom; sharing the house with the parents whom you despise but who support your every need? Living on a diet of Domino’s Pizza and with a sex life that consists solely of an intense relationship with five of your ten digits and not quite kidding yourself that your a feared online warrior. Hell it most assuredly is.

  6. peter.burnet@hotmail.com'
    October 13, 2014 at 12:49

    When I am out and about in an eye-catching frock, men often remark to me, “Oh, I wish I could dress like you and did not have to wear a boring suit.”

    Oh, I’ll bet. Perhaps the secret to Default Man’s success is that he knows when to just get on with it.

    Kudos to C for resolving both the problem of substance and the problem of universals at the same time.

  7. george.jansen55@gmail.com'
    October 13, 2014 at 14:17

    Using the usual figures of sex and sexuality, and assuming that about 80% of the UK classifies itself as white, one comes up with a bit over 30% white, straight, and male. Does the UK demography divide so neatly by thirds? In the US, practically everyone who is not dead broke or a plutocrat classified himself as middle class.

    My own proposal for computer vandals, back in the day when viruses were passed by floppy disk, was that the perps be given a shovels, and shipped off to guano islands, there to make themselves useful. These days, unfortunately, it has become a business as well as a hobby.

  8. mcrean@snowpetrel.net'
    October 13, 2014 at 17:01

    Well done folks. Spacious, easy to read and quick to load from here. As for God, food-poisoning and internet hackers, it sounds like the perfect nightmarish combination for one of GP’s tapestries.

  9. davidanddonnacohen@gmail.com'
    October 13, 2014 at 17:08

    Hurrah Worm. Glad that you’re all back.

    I suspect that C, like me, has been mislead by the term “Holy Ghost.”

  10. Brit
    October 13, 2014 at 18:53

    Thanks all. A word of warning on comments. The first time you make one, make sure the top box has your chosen display name before publishing. If you’re not careful it will default to your email address and publish it. If that happens, we can amend it.

  11. john.hh43@googlemail.com'
    John Halliwell
    October 13, 2014 at 19:51

    Well done, Worm and thank you. I’m so glad The Dabbler has got over such a pernicious bout of blood poisoning. What a great penultimate para, Brit!

  12. Gaw
    October 13, 2014 at 20:24

    Hurrah for Worm and Brit as they’ve done all the work (and in that order)!

    Funny thing about people in the arts complaining about the privilege of middle class white people is that tons of research has established that of all walks of life it’s the state-sponsored arts that has the biggest preponderance of… you guessed it.

  13. mauvais2@comcast.net'
    October 14, 2014 at 07:27

    I’m enjoying your new layout, at least the portion I’m allowed to see. My browser only occasionally allows me to see the new logo, and then only for a fraction of a second. Must be detecting some coded content: Is Paul really dead this time? But it’s a small price for me to pay in order to free you (for now) from the depredations of moronic nerds.

    Brit, next time, skip the Immodium (unless, of course, you’re on a plane or train, or anywhere near me). The extravagant discharges are your body’s way of expelling the beasties causing the problem. No sense interfering with its efforts on your behalf. A lifetime of travel to some of the most pestilential backwaters on the planet has taught me to take the full brunt of the assault, drink a lot of Pedialyte, and it’ll be over soon enough.

    • Worm
      October 14, 2014 at 09:22

      may I ask what browser you are using? This new blog template is probably more suited to newer browsers I guess

      • johngjobling@googlemail.com'
        October 14, 2014 at 09:35

        Ditto, Worm, running Firefox 32.03 in Ubuntu 14.04 with dark gnome themes, this tends to be the problem, this end, not yours.

        • hooting.yard@googlemail.com'
          October 15, 2014 at 16:49

          “Dark Gnome Themes”? Is that the name of a new album by Gong?

          • johngjobling@googlemail.com'
            October 15, 2014 at 17:12

            Geek gibberish, GNOME = GNU Network Object Model Environment.

            Geek gibberish (2), GNU = (recursive acronym) GNU’s Not Unix.

            Do you ever get that feeling, that life has overtaken you and left you up a cul-de-sac, sitting in a duckpond muttering whilst the cosmos expands exponentially away into the dark matter-spattered wide blue yonder.

        • Worm
          October 15, 2014 at 20:24

          you can get chrome on ubuntu now Malty- since I’ve switched from Firefox I definitely have a better browsing experience – even if google are now harvesting my every movement in order to sell me something somewhere down the line

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