Blogfest 2013 Part II … I left you last time just before the final session of the morning with Professor Tanya Byron, Dr Sue Black and Jon Ronson discussing technology – quo vadis? I arrived late from my Blog Clinic and managed to sweep up a Mark Warner family friendly cocktail en route. Crept in and managed not to disturb too many by finding a late seat. Or so I thought. Just as the inimitable and perfectly coiffed Tanya was holding forth, I chased the plastic straw around the glass and sucked up the final drops of my alcoholic pink drink. (Appropriately for a Parent and Child friendly conference it was called Sex on The Beach). The noise was similar to a large mammal squelching through a swamp. Hhhffthllliiithshshshththhhss!!  It was magnified by the excellent acoustics in the largest auditorium of King’s Place and heads turned. Luckily no one knows who I am. The avatars on my Blog and Twitter account are cartoons.


Now when I see as a woman as beautiful as Professor Byron, I put my shoe in the nearest freezer to remove any chewing gum on the sole even before reaching for my comb. However, it’s not always easy to pass on these soigné sensibilities of good grooming (in the old-fashioned sense) to the younger generation without them laughing out loud. When I told my son how elegantly dressed Nick Clegg’s wife, Miriam Gonzalez apparently was last year, he said “let’s Google her”. Now, all I can say is PLEASE DON’T. Whatever you do DON’T GOOGLE MIRIAM GONZALEZ on Google images.  There, I’ve warned you.

Ms Byron told us not to blog about our kids without their permission – I say: we gave them life, I think we should be able to discuss every element of their growing up with whomsoever we like. Kids have too much choice these days. Anyway – now the dirty raincoat brigade have left their hiding places in the corridors of the underground stations, they are only lurking lewdly on the internet in the comfort of their bedrooms. So we have absolutely NO NEED to worry at all.



Jon Ronson showed us what happens when you meet the Dark Side; he was at war with a robot version of himself. He made a video of three computer spambots sitting in a row suggesting that he might have a problem with wanting to retain an exclusive right on his identity. Are we sure these characters are nothing other than second rate final year art students attempting a performance piece for their Degree Show? On the other hand if they were real, God help us all. It’s hard enough knowing who one is these days let alone finding several other people having an identity crisis on your behalf. Mindboggling.


Dr Sue Black, top computer science expert is what I need: someone who can give practical help with computer skills. Help that will in turn help the next generation to learn, is what the wise woman said. But I say, to hell with that – the next generation already KNOW it all. They absorb bytes the way us oldies absorb coffee and blueberry muffins. By some sort of electronic osmosis, kids go to sleep at night and wake up the next morning saying “did you know Mum, the non-configurable control on the keyboard has updated the new hit vector information which improves its metadata and scalability?” No, I don’t know what that means either but I’m sure as dammit going to find out. Dr Black is one seriously impressive person, campaigning to save Bletchley Park and motivating us ordinary mortals to inform ourselves better about techie stuff. Check out her website on

Lunch was delicious – for me, steak and mushrooms pie in a rich gravy covered by a crispy perfectly cooked pastry. I found a big dining room decorated with large enthusiastic abstracts by Sandra Blow R.A. There were people who’d come solely to view this exhibition and were bemused by the sight of 450 women tweeting and eating without looking up. So here’s to you Sandra Blow (RIP) friend of Francis Bacon and Elizabeth Frink and teacher to David Hockney – you have been mentioned on a Mummy Blog. At my white linen tableclothed round table sat an imposing and interesting looking woman, so I sat down next to her. She looked like she knew what Blogging was about, and to my delight found she was Rachael Lucas who had just signed a 3 book deal with Pan Macmillan. Many congratulations! No wonder she was looking happy. Here’s a sketch I drew of her at the time.


Next up was How to Make Money from your Blog

There was the sense that this session, more the others, was the reason most people had come to Blogfest. 450 bottoms on the edge of their seats, the atmosphere tense with 450 pens scribbling received wisdom into 450 notepads and 900 ears straining to capture every tip, anecdote and example of the best way to ‘Monetise’ our blogs. Why do people not say, “I’ve got to monetise my wardrobe” (sell off Granny’s Sunday best cashmere cardies on Ebay) or “We must monetise the house (get a lodger)? Never plagued by bloody verbing growing up. But what do I know. I used to think Twitter was Frankie Howerd’s catchphrase and a Blog was a poorly drained quagmire.


Anyway, the room was quiet, the speakers spoke. We have been instructed to Go Forth, Affiliate Link and Monetise. When I was a lass we were never expected to have careers.  So put that in your pipe Mrs Rowbottom from Y5. Women of the World Unite, We Have Nothing To Lose But the side columns on our Blogsites.



What I can tell you is do NOT be tempted to pay anyone to ‘increase your SEO and viewing stats’. However many blog plug-ins they promise to add and optimize, however many backlinks and progress reports they send you, the only result is that THEY end up with YOUR money. And lots of it. If anyone in Social Media Marketing is reading this, please examine your conscience and let your customers know that there is in fact very little you can do to help, beyond telling them how to use Twitter (see useful book here) and walk up and down their high street with a sandwich board. I’d love to hear from anyone who strongly disagrees with this and can prove it. (End of Rant).

During the day there was a Blog Clinic where several Blog savvy ladies gave genuine advice free of charge (well, included in the price of the ticket). I drew Mummy Barrow last week – here are two of more – Annie Spratt AKA Mammasaurus …..


… and Jax Blunt at LiveOtherwise. Thank you from me and many, many others for your time and expertise 🙂



For my third and final post on Blogfest 2013, I’ll be writing and drawing about Lionel Schriver and A L Kennedy, as well as Feminism & Mummy Blogs. Not to mention the wonderful Jo Brand and what happens when you put a few hundred women in a room with free flowing gin on ice.

Back in a few days !

Read Part III

Read Part I



Check out these other awesome posts:

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    1. Please bear with me till end of week – am a bit of a Lynne Truss when it comes to editing, so these posts are turning into all-nighters! Grateful to my family for trying to remember what I look like these days 🙂 Really glad you enjoyed it, Sarah x

  1. Wow, just wow! I have been drawn before! Thank you! Hopefully you can judge my excitement levels of this by the number of exclamation marks!
    What a unique and fabulous write up, you are one talented lady 🙂

    1. Thank you for such an enthusiastic response:) We all sit here typing our little hearts out and it’s so lovely when you get feedback like this

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