I started making comments—friendly, mocking, complimentary, contentious or ribald—on other peoples' blogs soon after I started writing my own. Sometimes I used pseudonyms and then I realised that it would be amusing to link these to blogs which I wrote for them so that they might get some comments in return.
That was how it began, but over the past six years this has led me to devise a bunch of doppelgangers, each publishing a fairly convincing blog, so that I have a circle of non-existent people to play with. I suppose they're a bit like the imaginary friends that children sometimes dream up, in that they are me but not me. Since I lack sufficient imagination to create proper characters, they are only stereotypes.
Below are the details of the current cast. In most cases I give only the surnames since their first names are used as their IDs and I do not want them widely identified as fictional. They are listed alphabetically (any other order would cause dissension among them):
Ames is a Boston Brahmin and a keen yachtsman. He aims to be in the America's Cup Team before he is 30.
De Basil is a German/Russian collector of icons who lives alone in France. He writes about art and about his aristocratic relations, some of whom really did exist.
Frand is an English soi-disant artist whose pictures consist of digitally distorted photographs. He is, not surprisingly, virtually unknown in the art world.
Galinos is an anti-feminist, a Greek-born woman who now lives in Los Angeles with her attorney partner.
Hutchinson is descended from eighteenth-century immigrants to the USA. She is a writer and left-wing political activist who likes to quote examples of bigotry and racism on the net and then post comments on the blogs of the writers; this brings her a great deal of hate mail.
McGillivray is an elderly Scottish lecturer; his subjects are Scottish history, the Icelandic sagas and John Knox. He is very boring
Whittingham-Bohun is an an English country gentleman, stockbreeder and retired investment banker living in a Gloucestershire oast house; his grandchildren like to comment on his blog.
Riemenschneider is an amiable tough who lives in Bentonville AR. He is barely literate and is helped to write his blog by his partner Patsy, whom he describes as his "hot patootie". He recently inherited a fortune from his Uncle Herman who had owned an unspecified business which was "not 100 pacent legit".
Van Dilst (Created in association with Grumio.) Two brothers, Septimus and George, are Endtimers who want to warn the world that the Rapture will come in 2012, when the righteous shall be gathered unto the Lord and the sinful shall descend to the uttermost pit. Their blog has some impressive pictures showing exactly how it will be.
These people have between them a great variety of attributes—they are erudite, ignorant, coarse, sensitive, snobbish, misguided or just plain silly. What they have in common with their begetter is that they are, on the whole, well-meaning and without malice. I am really quite fond of them all.