Monday, 10 August 2015

Hiding behind a cloak

This blog, like many others, is written under a nom de guerre, as is my Twitter account. I’ll explore the reasons for that later.

The other day, I tweeted a link to this blogpost by Ben Nunn. As a non-Londoner, it’s not actually an issue on which I have strong feelings one way or the other, but I thought it was an interesting, forthright piece that deserved a wider airing. As said in many Twitter bios, “Retweets and links do not imply endorsement”. However, this seems to have touched a raw nerve and, even though it wasn’t my criticism in the first place, I ended up accused of being a coward who lurks behind a pseudonym.

Well, yes, but if you read this blog you will find plenty of information about me such as where I live and which pubs I like visiting. I’ve even referred to several letters written by myself that have been published in What’s Brewing and quoted my real name. Much the same is true of bloggers such as Tandleman, Tyson and Boak and Bailey. It is quite clear that I am a real, rooted person, not some anonymous troll.

So why use a pseudonym instead of blogging and tweeting under my own name?

  1. I have been writing a column as “Curmudgeon” in Opening Times since 1993, so it’s an established fact of life

  2. There is a long and honourable tradition of pseudonymous opinion columns in the press, most notably Cassandra, although it has reduced in recent years

  3. As someone who is not professionally involved in the beer industry, and may wish to change jobs, I would rather any internet search on my name didn’t reveal a load of rantings on the subject. I know of one beer blogger who occupies a senior management position and I’m sure wouldn’t appreciate Google revealing a long list of their beery thoughts to potential recruiters. It may well be something appropriate to mention at an interview, but not as search results. Hence I post on the CAMRA forum as “PeterE” (there is someone else called curMUDGEon)

  4. “Mudgie” is to some extent a persona, not the real me. Paul Bailey writes an excellent beer blog that draws on his own experiences. I want to adopt a more argumentative and detached line that may distil or exaggerate actual events. “Mudgie” is a kind of cartoon character loosely based on me – see here for more info. That’s a bit dated, and at least one of the answers would now definitely be different, but it still basically holds true.
This is a classic slightly fictionalised account of Mudgie’s exploits. But the only Morris Marina I personally own is the one shown below, although my father did have one of similar colour and vintage.


  1. I'd like to say my blog is the expression of a persona,, but no. I really am like that. Just ask anyone who's ever met me.

  2. No doubt Cookie will be along soon to say that Mudgie's "meat avatar" is a far worse pisshead and reprobate than the sanitised blog persona.

  3. I looked at Will Hawkes Twitter account, Anyone who posts something that just says "Whoo hoo" is a self-indulgent prat, and not to be taken seriously. I know you're a deluded right-winger, but you're OUR deluded right-winger!

  4. Hear, hear Nev. I was amazed at how Will Hawkes went off on one - and then tried to say it was harmless fun. What a fool.

  5. As regards to Ben Nunn's blogpost, it is like going to the butcher's and complaining they don't sell bread.

    As regards to Will Hawkes, what a cock!


  6. Up to a point I can understand Will Hawkes being a bit touchy on the subject as London Beer City is his baby, but it was the "shoot the messenger" aspect of his reaction that I found jaw-dropping.

    I did suggest in reply that the tweet pictured above had a whiff of "post-pub" about it ;-)

  7. That's a very natty picture of Terry Hall. As I'm hundreds of miles away I will sadly be able to visit neither (although I probably couldn't afford London prices) but I thought Ben Nunn's piece was pretty fair; and Will Hawke's various tweets make him appear a bit of a cockwomble. Maybe he's just a bit edgy with pre-event nerves.

    It did make me think a bit of the Edinburgh Festival/ Festival Fringe though. Which may mean in a few years that whilst the GBBF continues on, maybe even bigger than ever, it will be thoroughly eclipsed by the citywide beery upstart (the original players in it by then being the "alternative" beer establishment).

  8. Never got why people are so fussed about pseudonyms - but for what it's worth anonymity matters and we should defend it:

  9. If you want me to I’ll revert to rough arse cookie and make meat avatar comments about you and that Brittany Spears (bit ropey these days matey, you might wanna update that)

    But first I’ll be serious cookie and make two points. On twitter spats, twitter is a poor method of arguing as there isn’t the characters to get your point across, thus it can easily become short pithy insults. Expressing yourself that succinctly is difficult. You’d be proud to know I got blocked by that Melissa Cole, though not for calling her a cnut as you did with Pedro Broon. I commented on one of her many feminist twitter storms that a video of a foreign TV commercial wasn’t really making a rape joke. Thus I am an apologist for rape and practically a rapist myself. With more words you can make the point that cultural references are different in other countries and whilst the advert looks ropey and dated to UK eyes, in the country it is going out it is not joking about rape and the makers were not condoning rape or particularly concerning themselves with UK cultural sensitivity. What with selling beer in another country. Still, it makes twitter a fascinating mob and a bizarre place to argue. Jon Ronson has a book out on the subject, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, worth a read and it puts into context the true nature of a the crime of a brewery making a twitter joke about lying to the missus to stop out for a pint and finding it assailed by the angry mob of Cole and her army of righteousness.

    Secondly I’d make the point that we, as in you and your commenters have what’s called no skin in the game. Blogging and beery fun is just something done for a laugh. Our real commercial life that pays our bills is elsewhere.

    If you own a pub or brewery or write beer books, it’s your living. You care about “Craft” because its punters valuing a product higher, paying more and creating subjects to commercially write about for money. Hence rather than people having a laugh, they are brands engaging with customers. The brand is themselves and their product. You can see the changing nature of how bloggers interact when they move from amateur to actual published author with a book to sell. The shit got serious. They want a career out of it and know which way the bread is buttered.

    You can understand it. If I wrote a blog on SQL and I had commentators making rude comments and larking about taking the mick, I’d mug them off. The blog would be showcase of a professional service.

  10. Perhaps surprisingly, I haven't been blocked by Ms Cole. My recent tweet about Cwtch may change her mind.

    But I see her latest retweet is on a rather predictable theme - although I have to agree that pumpclip is a bit pathetic.

  11. What is fairly baffling is that Will Hawkes went off on a marauding Tweetspree, attacking Mudgie, Tandleman and probably others, and but he has never once raised the issues he has with my post directly with me.

    And yet Mudgie is the 'coward' here?!?


  12. I sign off all blogs, comments, tweets with the name that appears on my Birth Certificate and Passport. That way, although saying what I see and seeing what I say, I have a self editing head that tries not to upset people (too much) or cause them to get bent out of shape. #whycantweallgetalong

  13. Oh, the irony of calling someone a coward, whilst hiding behind a keyboard!

  14. What a load of old bollocks from Will Hawkes! (And an excellent - fairly commonsensical - piece from Ben Nunn.

    I personally am rather protective of my privacy and also spout using a pseudonym - one that I was forced to adopt for professional reasons. I won't be changing it any time soon either.

    Keep it up Mudgie. I don't know your real name and I'm not bothered.


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