Elle écrit plus? [fr]

[en] Why I'm struggling to write, these days: I'm trying to clarify all my cluetrainy ideas about the internet, people, and the world – and though they come out readily in conversations (having a lot of those these days as I have launched my 2016 professional website) I am struggling to squeeze them into post format. I wish I had Euan's gift for concision!

Not that comfortable

Mes articles ont du mal à sortir, ces jours. La raison en est que je suis en train de mettre de l’ordre dans tout un tas d’idées qui servent de fondement à mon travail. Des évidences (pour moi) concernant notre condition d’homo numericus, la nature des espaces numériques qui imprègnent nos vies, nos relations les uns aux autres et le rôle que celles-ci jouent à influencer le cours de nos vies.

Ce ne sont pas des idées nouvelles, mais je les développe généralement au cours de conversations, souvent en tant que prérequis aux autres thèmes qui nous préoccupent plus officiellement: est-ce que je devrais vraiment être sur Facebook pour mon travail? A quoi ça sert de poster des photos de vacances? Twitter, je capte toujours pas, c’est nul… Sur quoi je vais communiquer pour ma présence en ligne?

J’ai déjà pas mal dégrossi en préparant la nouvelle mouture de mon site web professionnel (en anglais, mais il y a une page en français). Parlant de nouveau site, à part ça, n’hésitez pas à diriger chez moi les gens de votre entourage qui pourraient bénéficier de mes services ou mes ateliers, je vais avoir de la disponibilité pour prendre des nouveaux clients cet automne à côté des ateliers de développement de carrière pour musiciens que je donne avec Elisabeth Stoudmann.

Je reprends le fil: toutes ces choses que j’expose si joyeusement dans un contexte de discussion, j’ai du mal à leur donner une forme d’article. Tout est lié, enchevêtré, et somme toute assez complexe. Je n’ai pas le don de la concision de mon ami et collègue Euan Semple, et chaque fois que je me dis “ah je pourrais faire un article sur ça” je me retrouve à ne pas commencer de peur que l’article devienne un livre. Problème classique que je connais bien.

Histoire de vous montrer que je suis capable de suivre mes propres conseils, je vais me lancer directement avec quelques réflexions sur internet en tant que lieu de vie – versus canal de communication.

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No Blog Post Is an Island [en]

[fr] Une des grandes difficultés dans l'art de bloguer: intégrer des liens à son texte. D'une part parce que les liens rajoutent une dimension au texte, perçant en quelque sorte des trous dans celui-ci par lesquels le lecteur est libre de s'échapper, à la façon des "livres dont vous êtes le héros" de notre adolescence, et d'autre part parce que la nature hypertexte du web donne à l'intertextualité une place capitale. Un article de blog n'est pas une île isolée, mais un fragment textuel nageant au milieu d'un océan d'autres fragments similaires, avec lequel il a des liens plus ou moins proches, que la bonne maîtrise de l'hyperlien permet d'expliciter. Ceci nécessite, outre une habileté avec les mots (pour pouvoir retourner sa phrase dans le sens qui permet un bon ancrage du lien), une certaine culture des autres textes entourant le sien. Sinon, comment faire des liens qui feront sens?

Fellow blogger Adam Tinworth points to a leaked memo from The Guardian encouraging internal linking. He shares his astonishment on Facebook “that this still isn’t standard practice at most places”. I am not that astonished, I have to say.

During my many years as blog editor-in-chief and teaching blogging to students, I have seen again and again that from a technical point of view, aside from managing to write in your own personal voice, the most difficult aspect of blogging to master is integrating hyperlinks into your writing.

Autour du chalet, colliers de perles

I think this is because writing well with hyperlinks requires one to write differently. It is not just about “writing and then adding links”.

Adding meaningful hyperlinks to your sentences is going to have an impact on the way you construct them. You need to be comfortable shuffling the words around, or looking for others, so that you end up with a phrase that provides you with adequate anchor text for the link you want to insert.

Most people’s training in writing is probably in standalone texts. Offline writing, the type that worked well on paper. Your reader starts at the top, and finishes at the bottom. You may have footnotes and references, but nothing as dramatic as a hyperlink, which literally pokes a hole in your text.

I like to think of hyperlinks as adding an extra dimension to a text. Normal text is 1D. Just follow it through. Hypertext is 2D at least — remember those books we must all have read as teenagers? If you go right, head to page 16, but if turn left, run off to page 67?

So, the first challenge in writing with links is finding a gracious way to anchor all those links into your words.

The second challenge is less obvious, but even more important: intertextuality.

Intertextuality” is a rather vast topic, but it generally has to do with the fact that how you understand or read one text can be shaped by your knowledge of another. References or allusions, explicit or not, that connect different texts.

On the web, everything we write is swimming in a sea of other interconnected texts. It’s not called the World Wide Web for nothing, dammit. Everything that is published on the web is stitched together. The blog post you are writing now is not an island, it is swimming alongside all sorts of other pieces of writing. How you position your piece of writing amongst the others may be just as important as the writing itself.

Intertextuality in the world of hypertext is a crucial thing to be aware of.

What are you going to link to? What is there out there that complements your writing, or takes your reader further, or down a parallel path? What are the associations between parts of your writing and preexisting writing?

This requires, in addition to the will to connect one’s writing into this existing web, some degree of knowledge of what is out there. Culture. Or dexterity in the use of the search engine. Or both.

I agree with Adam: internal linking should be a no-brainer. I do it a lot on Climb to the Stars: whenever I’m writing a blog post, I’m wondering what else I have written in the past which is related to it. Am I building upon a previous post? Am I writing on a topic I’ve already touched upon? How can I work a link to this or that post into what I’m writing now?

I do it on Open Ears too. As editor-in-chief, I have read all the articles we publish. The difficulty is I often receive articles which are written as standalone pieces, so I have to either work with the blogger to incorporate a reference to another article, or do it myself as part of the editing process. But as I mentioned above, adding links changes the way you write and construct your text, so “adding a link” is rarely as straightforward as “just adding a link” — and in some cases can only difficultly be done if it wasn’t planned for from the start.

When I was discovering the web, one of the first sites I spent a lot of time reading was The Psychology of Cyberspace. It’s still online, and I encourage you to visit it: as the author explains, it is an online book, that is, written with hypertext in mind.

There is a table of contents, but in addition to that, inside the chapters, there are links to other chapters whenever there is a mention or a passing reference to something covered elsewhere. This frees the reader to wander around in the order they wish, and avoids redundancy — if you need to explain X again, just link to it. I think this was a very good learning example for me of how to build text online.

So now. How would you teach people the skills to do this, when it doesn’t seem to come naturally to them?

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Disconnection [en]

[fr] Certaines formes d'écriture ne peuvent plus se faire déconnectée, pour moi.

I’m at my chalet. Cats are curled up on the bed and I have a nice cup of tea ready. There is no wifi here. Cellphone reception is extremely patchy — and cellular data, when it works, is excruciatingly slow and unreliable. This is my “disconnected place”.

There is a lovely café in the village which offers free wifi as well as delicious home-made syrups, smoothies, and cakes. And tea for winter, of course. I go there to work and connect with the world.

I use MarsEdit to edit and write blog posts offline. As you can imagine, this is not something I do often. But this time around, I had quite a few to work on for my client, and I figured I could also do some of my work at the chalet.

While I was at it, I updated the settings for my blog (yup, still in server-move limbo) so that I could write an article or two. Everybody knows that being offline is great for productivity, particularly for writing.

Well, it turns out that there are certain types of writing for which it isn’t all that great. A lot of the stuff I write about here is nourished by things I’ve read online somewhere. I want to include links, check sources again to make sure I remember correctly what I have read. Search for more information.

I have become so used to writing/blogging plugged into the internet that I forget how much I rely on this extension of my mind that the network has become for me. (See, I’m sure there is a good piece somewhere to link to about that — but as I’m writing this offline, I can’t dig it out for you.)

I don’t think this is a bad thing. My brain still works. I haven’t lost the ability to write, and more importantly, to think. But I find myself in the situation where I am so used to functioning with a given tool that I forget its absence will prevent me from doing certain things.

The article I wanted to write is about doing what we want versus doing what we have to do. I’ve been through a series of realisations on that topic, and I want to be able to reference them and map them out for — maybe with the same sources, somebody will come to the same realisation, and my article will have been useful. Oh well, I’ll write it another time, when I have access to the internet.

Maybe I just have to remember that blogging/writing is not something I should try do to when offline.

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Some Thoughts on Blogging: Original Content, Linking, Engaging [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions sur l'enseignement de l'art du blog.

I like teaching people about blogging. Right now I have nearly 100 students who are learning to blog, with varying enthusiasm and success. Teaching blogging makes me realize that this mode of expression which comes naturally to me is not that easy to master. Here are a couple of the main hurdles I’ve noticed for the student-blogger:

  • Original content. It seems obvious that a blog will contain original content, but in the age of Tumblr (I love Tumblr) and Facebook (I love Facebook) and Twitter (I love Twitter) it seems there is a bias towards republishing rather than creating. One of the things that make a blog a blog is the fact that the blogger has taken the trouble to think and try and communicate ideas or experiences or emotions to their reader, in the written form. Some early attempts at blogging resemble Facebook walls.
  • Links. Writing in hypertext is not easy. A blog is not an island. A blog is connected to many other pages on the web, be they blog articles or not. It’s caught in the web. It’s part of the web. A blog which never links elsewhere? Might be a journal or a memoir, but it’s missing out on something. What do I link to? When? Which words do I place my links on? The art of linking is full of subtleties.
  • Engaging. Blogging is about writing, but also about reading and responding. Links ensure that a blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The parallel human activity is responding to comments, reading other bloggers, linking to them socially, and actually engaging with content found elsewhere. Some will say “comment on other people’s articles”, but that is not the whole story. Leaving a superficial comment is not it. Trying to understand the other, daring to challenge and disagree (respectfully), push thoughts further and drag others out of their comfort zone: there is something philosophical about the practice of blogging.

Some things are relatively easily taught: how to hit publish; how to write in an informal voice; how to dare being subjective. But how do you teach engagement? How do you teach debate? I know the Anglo-Saxon (at least American) school curriculum includes debating. Switzerland, sadly, doesn’t — and we tend to shy away from it, or end up in “dialogues de sourds” with two polarised camps each trying to convert the other.

2nd Back to Blogging Challenge, day 7. On the team: Nathalie Hamidi(@nathaliehamidi), Evren Kiefer (@evrenk), Claude Vedovini (@cvedovini), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Fleur Marty (@flaoua), Xavier Borderie (@xibe), Rémy Bigot (@remybigot),Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Marie-Aude Koiransky (@mezgarne), Anne Pastori Zumbach (@anna_zap), Martin Röll (@martinroell), Gabriela Avram (@gabig58), Manuel Schmalstieg (@16kbit), Jan Van Mol (@janvanmol), Gaëtan Fragnière (@gaetanfragniere), Jean-François Jobin (@gieff). Hashtag:#back2blog.

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Second "Back to Blogging" Challenge [en]

[fr] Un court article par jour pendant 10 jours, histoire de reprendre le rythme et de se souvenir qu'écrire un article sur un blog, ça peut être vite fait.

Do you have a blog?

Have you been really bad about blogging of late, like me?

I bring to you, for the second time, a 10-day “Back to Blogging” challenge.

Starting tomorrow (Monday), I will write a short blog post each day. Quick and dirty. Get something out the door. I expect to spend maximum 30 minutes on it.

Feel inspired to join in? Hashtag: #back2blog.

(Last time around I published links to all the posts of the day at the bottom of each article. It took way more time than the actual blogging! If anybody has ideas about how to automate this, I’m all ears.)

The winning team!

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Urges [en]

[fr] Un vieux texte ressorti des brouillons.

A draft dating back from March 2010. Probably inspired by a dream.

Loud rhythmic music started drifting in the air, and the crowd on the festival river boats slowly went quiet. People stood up and started dancing and cheering.

I looked at Paul. We could feel the urge, but knew that giving in would only make it harder to resist what would come next.

Everyone sat down as the music went silent.

People looked at each other grimly. They knew that however strong the urge, they should not jump overboard.

In a flash, I noticed the group of children a few seats away.

“You! Come here right away!” I ordered.

A little bewildered, they came withing reach. People around me had understood, caught the children as they arrived, and sat them firmly in the seats next to them.

As for me, I grabbed two under each arm — two girls and two boys.

The girls didn’t budge, but the little boys started struggling and hitting me. I didn’t let go.

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Help Stop Comma Abuse! [en]

Yes, there are some rules for commas. Some are strict, some aren’t. Some are debated (the Oxford comma), some aren’t. And some commas are just a question of style.

I’d like to draw your attention on a comma issue which is not a question of style.

You cannot use a comma to separate the verb from its subject or object. Look:

John, ate some bread.

John ate, some bread.

Doesn’t work.

But you do see commas floating around verbs. That’s because they come in pairs. Look:

John, without hesitation, ate some bread.

John ate, without hesitation, some bread.

See how those commas come in pairs, because we inserted “without hesitation” into the sentence?

I was prompted to write this article after struggling through this article. I struggled because the article content was interesting — but boy, does the author have comma issues. Hopefully they’ll fix them. In the meantime, I’ve used the text to provide you with real-world examples, corrected. You can try your skills at spotting missing paired commas. (And do read the article, though, it is interesting.)

In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich used a lot of his free time for playing cards.

Can you spot the missing comma? This is a situation where the first paired comma was used, but not the second. The “inserted” text in the sentence is “the 4th Earl of Sandwich”, which should therefore be surrounded by commas. This one is actually tricky, because it looks like we have avoided placing a comma between the subject and the verb. But we have. Better:

In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, used a lot of his free time for playing cards.

Here is another one:

Since recently a good friend of mine, gave me an introduction to the power of storytelling, I wanted to learn more.

This one has a comma which shouldn’t be there. No reason for a pair, as the sentence is not “Since John, a good friend of mine, gave me…”. Corrected:

Since recently a good friend of mine gave me an introduction to the power of storytelling, I wanted to learn more.

I’ll have to admit that I’m not 100% certain about the next one:

When we are being told a story though, things change dramatically found researchers in Spain.

Don’t you also want a comma in front of “found”? It probably has something to do with the fact that instead of the usual SVO order, we’ve switched to something like OVS. Here, try this one instead:

When we are being told a story though, things change dramatically, found researchers in Spain.

Isn’t it better?

Here’s one which might have more than comma issues, but let’s stick to the commas:

The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it, can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton.

I would suggest one of these two alternatives, though my prefer would probably add in an extra word or two:

The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton.

The brains of the person telling a story, and listening to it, can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton.

And a last one which is a classic example of paired commas:

A story, if broken down into the simplest form is a connection of cause and effect.

The “inserted text” here is “if broken down into the simplest form”. Proof? The sentence would be fine without it:

A story is a connection of cause and effect.

Now, let’s add in this if-clause, with commas.

A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect.

There we go. Pay attention to your commas!

Disclaimer: I’ve never really studied English grammar properly, so I’m sure there are fancy terms and maybe rules to come up with here that I don’t know of. And also, following a law which probably needs a nice name, as this is a post about language/grammar, there are bound to be mistakes in it that you can point to and laugh at — and probably, God forbid, a misplaced comma.

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Bloggers: an Opportunity to Contribute to the paper.li Community Blog [en]

[fr] Paper.li développe son blog communautaire et cherche des contributeurs!

Bloggers and freelance writers, this is for you! I’m working with paper.li (you know them, right?) and we’re plotting an expansion/development of their community blog. In short, this means:

  • more interviews of interesting members of the paper.li community (similar to what Kelly has done until now)
  • thematic articles (either original content, commentary on stuff published elsewhere, bundles of commented links…) around “curation”, personal online publishing and editing — and where it’s going, basically: how we’re dealing with the wealth of information online (I guess you can see why this is a relevant topic for paper.li)
  • …and I’ll be editing/managing publication.

We already have a few people lined up to conduct interviews of paper.li community members (we’re open to more if it’s the kind of thing you’d love doing) and we are looking for bloggers or other online writers who are interested in writing some articles with us.

Maybe you would just like to do a one-off guest post, or you think you’d like to contribute regularly, because you have lots to say or want to help us assemble, organise and comment the related articles and links we’re collecting.

If you want to be part of this, we want to hear from you! Please use the following form to get in touch.

The form is now closed. If you’d like to get in touch, head over to the Contribute page on the community blog.

A few organisational/context notes to help you understand what we’re doing:

  • we’re aiming to publish about 10 articles a month (so, pretty low amount of publications — we want quality first)
  • published posts will receive a (modest) financial compensation, but this isn’t Demand Media where you can churn out 50 posts a week to make a living out of it — so we assume you also have other motivations to participate (passion, another audience, visibility, intellectual curiosity…)
  • we ask for a week of exclusivity for the content you publish with us — after that, you’re free to republish on your blog or anywhere else
  • posts will of course link back to your blog if you want
  • we’re pretty open editorially (and still defining the borders or our topics), so feel free to submit stuff even if it seems slightly off-topic!

We’re waiting to hear from you, and don’t hesitate to get in touch or use the comments if you have questions or want more information.

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Blogging Inertia [en]

[fr] Peu d'envie d'écrire (et donc de bloguer). Pas courant pour moi!

This hasn’t happened to me often before, but I’m going through a phase where I don’t feel like blogging at all. Actually, I don’t even feel like writing, which is really quite unusual.

I’m still in a “tired of documenting my life” mood. And, related to that, I think my brain is simply tired, and I think it’s going to take me some time to get over having spent too long in overdrive. Burn-out? Maybe, or not quite, but possibly a family member of the big nasty one. For those of you who worry: I’ve had a medical check-up and I’m fine, I’m pretty happy, chugging along with my work, but I feel a kind of general tiredness.

So, I’m making sure I rest enough, and not pushing myself too much. Which includes not pushing myself to write when I don’t feel like it. Does this have to do with my experiment in keeping certain things to myself?

A lot of questions, you see. Maybe this is it. I’m going through a phase of my life which contains a lot of questions (personal ones only I can answer) and not many answers or insights to share with the world.

To be honest, though, I’m still blogging. It just feels to me like I’m not, but posts actually get posted.

That being said, now I’m going to give my brain a rest!

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Sam 1 [en]

[fr] Exercice d'écriture: personnage Sam.

The adventure begins.

She doesn’t know Sam yet. She just knows his name. She’s not sure if she’ll like him or not. She’s afraid of making him too likable, too cliché, too unidimensional. She realizes that if she makes him too cliché or perfect, he will not be likeable. You see, she’s stuck already.

Sam is roughly her age, in his mid-thirties. The jeans and t-shirts he wears make him look like he still believes he is seventeen. He has a job, though — not a very exciting one, but a stable one. His life is outside of work, with his friends. They go out for drinks on week-ends, play video games, watch football matches.

He met a girl he liked at The Great Escape the other night. Said like that, it sounds like an exceptional event, but it isn’t. He meets plenty of girls he likes, and has plenty of fun with them, but it’s usually short-lived. He hasn’t had anyone stable in his life since he and Greta broke up. He figures he still needs time.

She thinks Sam sounds pretty normal and boring so far. She remembers that stories are about putting normal people in extraordinary situations, and seeing how they react. Like a scientific experiment. She wonders what she could do with Sam.

Shove him through one of Dan Simmons’ Brane holes, straight into another universe? She thinks that’s a little radical. Baby steps, baby steps.

Maybe to start off, she could have him arrive at The Great Escape, hoping to see that girl again, but the bar has disappeared. Disappeared, as in “never existed” for anybody but him. That’s not a new idea, she knows, but it would allow her to see how Sam reacts.

Let’s do it.

So, Sam heads out into town like every week-end, and parks his car somewhere behind the cathedral. He’s got a car, and he’s a confident driver. She gives him a car because she thinks it makes him a little more grown-up. And also, chances are a 30-something living in Lausanne with a stable job and no family to feed will have one. The car also tells us he’s probably not a green activist. The truth is he’s pragmatic, like most people: he’s got a nagging concern about the environment, but he also wants his freedom and his quality of life. He’d go for a solar car if they existed (provided it didn’t cost twice the price of a normal one).

She’s starting to feel curious about Sam now. She realizes that she’s actually looking forward to learning more about him. She’s aware it might not make for fascinating reading, but she can see herself typing through the night to satisfy her curiosity. She might even start liking him.

As she gets ready for much more typing, she notices that she actually knows more about Sam than what she initially thought. For example, he’s not that good with domestic stuff. She doesn’t know why yet, but his flat is a bit in a mess at all times (though still functional) and he’s pretty crap and shopping for groceries, so he eats out quite a lot. Another thing she knows now is that although most of his friends assume that Sam’s proper name is Samuel, it’s in fact Samson. He finds his name a bit ridiculous (the biblical references and all that) so he keeps the information under wraps as much as he can.

She’s aware that if she was really trying to write a story, she wouldn’t be dumping those random facts about Sam like that for her readers, but she would be a little more subtle, letting them emerge from Sam’s interaction with the world and people around him. For now, though, she’s satisfied with the rather dry police-description of her nascent character.

So, back to the story. Sam finds a parking spot behind the cathedral — it’s a little walk away from his favorite hang-out, but he actually enjoys the fresh air on the way. He makes his way briskly down the steps to the little square next to Palais de Rumine, and heads for the bar. He absent-mindedly registers that the usual signs indicating tonight’s match and menu are not out as usual, but most of all, he’s disturbed by the absence of people clustering around the door.

At this point, she thinks she should probably go and check out The Great Escape on a Friday or Saturday evening, to make sure she’s not saying stupid things about the place, as it actually exists. She might do that sometime next week — one of her friends goes there quite regularly, it could be an opportunity.

Well, assuming she hasn’t got it all wrong, Sam arrives in front of what looks like a closed bar, when it should be open. (As she doesn’t have the bar handy, she checks online: it’s open every evening.) Sam has never seen it closed except a few times in the morning — like many similar places, it’s open all week, every day. (She’s looking up reviews on TripAdvisor, now. This almost feels like proper research. She decides to set aside the bar for the moment and concentrate on Sam again.)

So, Sam arrives in front of a closed door when he was expecting to find his usual favorite bar a-buzz with his friends and other strangers. He walks to the door, his legs chugging numbly beneath him, his mind floating uncomfortably somewhere between “bad joke” and “am I losing it”.

He tries the door. He can see it’s closed, but he tries it all the same. He looks around the little square: he doesn’t see anybody looking lost or confused because their usual bar isn’t open. He doesn’t see anybody, actually: the square is empty.

She’s starting to feel taken in by the story she’s writing. She feels a bit bad for Sam. She put him there, after all. But it was the only way she could think of to get to know him better. But she wants to know what’s going to happen next, and the only way to know is to let it write itself.

Sam is definitely confused. He checks the time, checks the date, tries the door again. As he’s trying the handle, a sinking feeling  as he glances at the building tells him more is wrong then he initially thought: the name of the bar has disappeared from the building — and from the door, too, now that he actually looks.

Something very wrong must have happened for it to close overnight (or rather, overday). And why wouldn’t anybody have told him?

He calls up Roger.

“What on earth happened to The Great?”
“Hey, Sam! The great what?”
“The Great. It’s closed. The signs are even gone from the building.”
“What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense. Oh, and when are you getting here? Sophie asked if you’d be there tonight.” Sam can hear the “nudge nudge, wink wink” in Roger’s voice when he mentions the girl from the other night.
“Oh, er…” Sam’s confusion has just gone up a notch. “I’m coming. Where are you?”
“Captain Cook! Where else? Are you OK? Come on over!”

Roger hangs up. Sam looks around again, and heads up the stairs to the Captain Cook, wondering if he is losing his grip on reality.

She stops here, and wonders if this kind of little adventure really tells her something about Sam. Wouldn’t pretty much anybody react like that? She’ll have to put other characters through this kind of exercise: make them face the disappearance of their favorite hang-out. Maybe they won’t all react the same.

But first she has to take Sam a little further. She has second thoughts about the brief phone call with Roger. Shouldn’t Sam have insisted a bit more? That dialogue makes it look like Sam readily accepts that Roger has no idea what he’s talking about. Hell, if she called up one of her friends with such an odd disappearance and the friend reacted like Roger, she would be calling the friend back instead of stumbling towards the next bar.

Maybe Roger has a history of being slightly inebriated, busy with girls, and generally not very coherent on the phone when he’s out drinking bear in a full noisy pub. That must be what Sam thought. He’s still confused, but he hasn’t yet figured out that he’s the only one to have noticed The Great’s disappearance (or escape, haha). So, he’s on his way to the Cook, confident that he’ll get some explanation from Roger once he gets there. He’s in for a nasty surprise.

Roger thinks Sam is playing some kind of joke on him. He reacts as if he’d never even heard of The Great Escape, or any kind of bar on the little square halfway down the stairs. Roger’s on his third or fourth pint, which doesn’t help Sam try and get his point across. He asks a couple of other people about The Great and gets confused looks and lots of question marks.

In an attempt to refrain from questioning his sanity, he decides to wash away his growing discomfort with something slightly stronger than usual and chats up Sophie (who confirms they met in the very same bar earlier that week, and gives him a puzzled look when he tries to talk about The Great’s disappearance).

She’s really getting into the story now. She’s going to have to make up for her tea-totalling habits with some “academic” research on alcoholic beverage consumption on normal Lausanne Saturday nights.

Sam drinks a little more than usual and follows Sophie to her place not far from the bar — not that he needs more drinking than usual to go and have some Saturday night fun with a cute girl picked up in a bar. Before picking up his car to go home in the pre-dawn haze of too much smoke, alcohol, and meaningless sex, he drops by The Great again to make sure it really is closed (“escaped”, he says to himself).

His mind is working, at least that much. There is no open bar where he remembers The Great Escape.

He drives home, collapses into his half-made bed — he must remember to change the sheets one of these days — and dozes straight off, hoping that The Great’s escape will have straightened itself out by morning, one way or another.

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