My 'new best friend' in blogland (the delightful Tony of Other Men's Flowers) was kind enough to give me a very warm review the other week.
I mention this not, I hope, out of vanity or a pathetic impulse towards self-publicity, but simply to comment on or query his choice of words. While I would not disagree with the general tenor of his remarks (or seek to discourage him, or anyone else, from offering such encomia), I was doubtful about the appropriateness of some of the terms he chose to use.
For example, he described me as a "polymath". That's overstating things more than somewhat! I am a trivia-sponge, but that's hardly the same thing. I suspect that we Classicists always tend to seem dauntingly erudite to the hoipolloi because it's such a multidisciplinary subject; and almost nobody knows any Latin (much less Greek!) these days; and we do show off a bit by dropping words like 'hoipolloi' into our discourse at regular intervals. But that's really all pretty trivial and monomathic.
He went on to describe this foolish little blog of mine as "witty and urbane". The 'witty' part I'm more comfortable with, though I fear it is mostly an aspiration rather than an achievement. 'Urbane', though - that's not somehow a word I've ever associated with myself.
Then again, Tony's excellent blog is such a torturous web of irony and subterfuge that he may just have been gently taking the piss out of me. I don't think so, but....
The youth of today, I suspect, would regard 'urban' as a term of higher praise (I gather it's even become fashionable as a name these days - and not just for Popes any more!), but that hardly fits me either.
My modest social background is really far more 'suburban'. If only Suburbane were a word! That would be more le mot juste for me, I feel. I must try to popularise its usage.
And while on the subject of recommendations, I find that JES - one of Moonrat's minions and an occasional commenter on here over the past few months - has very generously, though perhaps erroneously, added my link to the sidebar of his Running After My Hat blog under the 'Writers To Be Read' category. Since JES is himself a published author, I am particularly touched by this accolade.
To balance things up a little, we had some drive-by snidery over on the Barstool last week: an anonymous commenter suggested my opinions were "obvious" and "relentlessly middle-brow". Really?? Now, I welcome a bit of verbal fisticuffs once in a while, and I like to think that I can take a punch or two, even the odd low blow, but.... well, has this chap got confused about which blog he was commenting on? There are many criticisms you might make of me and my writing - self-indulgent, bi-polar, indiscreet, and often in rather poor taste - but middle-brow I just don't see.
I suppose it's a term that only has meaning in a relative sense, a slice of intellectual snobbery: anyone who aspires to the cultural high ground and believes their taste to be superior to yours will denigrate your interests as "middle-brow".
Naturally, I resent the aspersion, since I believe my tastes to be pretty refined, even if my sense of humour is often rather coarse.
Regular readers and casual passers-by, do feel free to pitch in. I throw this thread open to your views on Froogville and the Barstool. Praise and criticism are equally welcome, so long as the remarks are cogently written.