Sunday, 4 December 2011

When I am 64

When something nice happens to you, you are not supposed to talk about it.

At least that is the British way, and the way of social media.

But something nice happened to me last week, and I would like to say something about it.

I was included in a list of "100 Influential Men" by GQ, a magazine which I had never bought before.

They put me at number 64.

This, of course, is ludicrous.

I can think of 64 "Davids" of far more influence than I could ever muster.

Indeed, there are probably 64,000 more important "Davids" in London alone.

But it was still nice.

And this is why.

Four years ago I lost my job during the Credit Crunch.

No one wanted to pay me to do lawyering.

And certainly no one would have thought to pay me as a journalist.

Then in my late 30s - for the first time in my life - I found something I really enjoyed.

It was writing on the internet about legal and other matters.

Because of this, I managed to return to the profession - specialising in social media and internet law. It also meant I was able to share ideas and insights with similar-minded people wherever they were.

I got carried away with this, without thinking what it would lead to.

There was no grand plan, no "social media strategy" (dear god).

And so after a decade and a half of frustrations and obstructions, I began to enjoy myself, which I never really had done since before university.

It certainly helped my depression, which had dogged me for years, and still does.

(Depression is something else one is not supposed to talk about.)

So that is why it is nice to be on a list like that.

However, what me being on that list is supposed to mean is that Twitter and social media are influential.

GQ could have chosen from hundreds of other bloggers and Twitter users, and made a similar point.

But all the same, I now have a copy of my GQ in my bag and for a week or so, and I will think of ever-more ingenious pretexts to bring it into conversation.

I will put up with the well-meaning teasing and the mean-headed sneering.

Then I will get back to doing what I enjoy most: writing for the internet about law and policy from a liberal and critical perspective.


No purely anonymous comments will be published; always use a name for ease of reference by other commenters.


Miles said...


Korhomme said...


I'm 64 too, but chronologically; and somewhere towards infinity on a scale of importance.

I've read somewhere that you should only do (work) only those things that you would otherwise do for free.

It's about "self-actualisation" and it's good that you've found it.

What you don't want or need is to have a skinful of regrets later, like so many of us (I include me) -- see -- unless you want to end up with even worse depression (I include me).

Good luck!

Juliet said...

Nice post DAG. I think, slowly, we're getting to the point where it's not unacceptable to talk about depression, so it's good that you feel able to join the growing ranks of people willing to raise their voices on the subject.

I think you'd really relate to Stewart Lee talking about how a Channel Four programme named him as the 41st best stand-up comedian of all time:

Jobbing Doctor said...

Well done. I don't tend to real legal blogs, being an "average joe" GP, but I read yours. You were also very impressive in front of the select committee.

It is deserved.

The Jobbing Doctor


Elaine Hutton said...

Your inclusion on that list is very well deserved. And your honesty about depression is very refreshing.

Keep up the good work. It's appreciated by a vast number of people who you will probably never meet, but whose lives you change in a little way for the better.

last year's girl said...

As a fellow depressive, fellow legal professional and fellow former member of the redundancy club, I find this heartening and so, so deserved.


anarchic teapot said...

Congratulations, a well-deserved accolade.

SO says "see your depression and raise you a bipolar". Nothing to be ashamed of, it's just proof you're human with feelings.

nanoamp said...

Good for you!

(intended to be both diagnostic and exhortative :)

Jo said...

A lovely post - the bit that resonated with me most was finding out later in life what you really want to do as a career. I was 33 before I discovered it was possible to do science communication and answer people's questions about science (or, in the field and sector I went into: medical research and health).

My writing tends to be to one other person (in response to their enquiry) rather than blogging about it, but I enjoy it very much.

You undoubtedly have influence but you're also just plain old helpful in setting out what's happening, and what's important, when some new daft libel nonsense raises its head. I've learned loads from your blogging and tweeting. Thank you :)

Penglish said...

Congratulations, David. I don't know if 64 is correct, but I have no difficulty believing it. I'd like to think it's true.

True or not, this was a brave and personal post. Ad somebody who has been reading your work and following you on Twitter for a long tim, it couldn't have happened to a better person, and I'm delighted to hear it's made you happy.

Keep up the great work!

David J Mudkips said...

A worthy accolade. Be sure to mention it in the liner notes of your Bad Law book!

Accessible blogging on complex subjects, without dumbing down, is always a pleasure to read. And there are be few subjects out there as convoluted and incomprehensible as law (sitting comfortably alongside bistromathics, and well ahead of quantum physics). Reading your posts leaves me enlightened, occasionally outraged, but never patronised.

It helps, of course, that you're a damn fine chap. If every lawyer were as honest and decent as you, the legal profession wouldn't be stigmatised as being full of ethically-dubious, hyper-mercenary types. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the SRA should investigate you for "bringing the profession into Repute"

And good for you on speaking out about your MH issues - I'm lucky, in that my circles of friends are very open and understanding about it, but in many professional fields, that just doesn't happen.

PS: 64 this year, but with Paul's impending aquittal (the law's an ass, and it's going to get kicked), and Libel Reform in the air, you should be shooting for a higher rating next year!

Ben said...

Many congratulations.

You're going to get a t-shirt printed with that page on, right? For the times, like on the beach, or in the gym or walking your dog, when carrying a copy with you isn't practical? It seems the obvious solution.

Freda said...

Well done. You have certainly come a long way since I first listened to you speak so fluently at a Birmingham SITP meeting. Always enjoy your clear expositions of things I wouldn't otherwise have followed. So glad that twitter has brought you to a larger audience.

I expect to see you break into the top 50 GQ'ers next year :)

Pete said...

Keep it up David!
From an avid non-lawyer follower.

him said...

Wonderful! and well deserved. Thanks for sharing about the depression too, which I also live with. keep on keeping on :)

Anonymous said...

@InspectorChiz is sadly with you on depression. I never thought working so hard would cause it happily not caused by using coercive force but doing the other stuff I do :) nice article ....Pete

@CorelliViolin said...

This was both inspiring and totally warmed my heart. Congratulations and thank you for sharing this.

Lisa ansell said...

sent a tweet which included your name to Kate Belgrave which was agreeding that we liked this post. I just read the tweet back, and it looked like I was snipping. Was actually saying well done, and agreeing with an earlier tweet she had made. I have read Jack of Kent for a long time. Glad you write it.

rjh01 said...

For JREF forum members thread started here

Alice said...

Many congratulations David!

I'm so happy for you that the amazing and very distinctive work you do is being recognised, and that things have improved for you personally so much. Next time you see me, I want to see the GQ magazine. I'm sure I can throw a bit of teasing in. The first time I ever had a mag article published, it was the cover story. I went to buy a spare copy of the mag (Astronomy Now), and got talking to the girl in the queue with me, and couldn't resist telling her. I felt an utter prat for doing so, but it was bubbling out of me quite uncontrollably.

Well done, too, for speaking up about depression. Too many people suffer either directly from this or from knowing someone with it and feeling powerless to help them. When a problem cannot be discussed, the situation is unlikely to be improved. But influential voices like yours will, I think, be very helpful in changing that.

Ermintrude2 said...

Many congratulations! As someone who enjoys reading your posts and tweets (but more cat pics would always be appreciated!).
It's a fantastic achievement and quite right that you should be very proud.

Tolkny said...

When I was 22 in 1972, I was working as a clerk in the paper handling section of an internationally large bank, where it seemed every organisation was trying to make a 'turn' by trading on stuff we did not need, in such a way that some ordinary 'joe'paid a bit extra when they bought chococolate, eggs, fuel or anything.

Night times, I worked free for an organisation that tried to make people who felt on the verge of killing themselves, feel they were worthwhile and their contribution to life is as valuable as anyone else's.

I gave up the bank and became a social worker, till I got burnt out and bogged down with paper and being blamed for society's shortcomings. Now people suggest I am leeching on society by taking my pension.

Today I read of nuclear leaks into the Pacific Ocean, Climate change causing life threats, starvation, and eat more chocaolate for Christmas, type messages.

The unique skill of humanity is co-operation, yet we put so much energy into competing, it maybe too late to save our children from a holocaust more terrible than anything so far contemplated. I am 62 - nearly 63, so probably will see out my natural span before humanity is completely overtaken by computerised collapse and European starvation, but I sense it is coming!

clarinette02 said...

I read this morning on Twitter, coming from a French politician, no frontier has been pushed since Gallileo !!
Really? This guy seems to have totally missed the online world. After the land, the sea, the air, the space, here comes the cyberspace, the new frontier.
What is beautiful with your number 64, is that this new frontier gave you your chance to prove who you are, what your worth, and what you can do. It's nothing immediate, it took you a good time and effort to come where you are and being appreciated by the ones you've influenced by your share of knowledge.
This is 'La Magie de l'Internet'. not everyone get it.

Carl Gardner said...

Excellent stuff! Keep exerting influence.

I never realised you'd lost a job - it's been a remarkable bounce-back from there, that's for sure.

Undine said...

Bah. Hardly a time for ingenious pretexts, I'd say. Throw subtlety to the winds. Laminate the thing and wave it around! Boast a little. Be proud. What's the point of public tributes if you can't have some fun with them?

And I agree with that previous commenter about the cat pictures. :)

David J Mudkips said...

+1 for More Cat Pics.

Maybe Banshee deserves his own blog and/or Twitter account?

Andrew said...

Gosh - well done! - although I note that Boris is #1, "anonymous" is #9, and Brian Cox is #11, so there is clearly scope for a higher ranking next year! Perhaps you could aim for a slot as one of the 50 best dressed men in Britain too? :)

vjohn82 said...

I really enjoyed reading this article for its honesty and inspiration. I've suffered from Clinical Depression since I was 14 (placed on meds while still at secondary school) and I have lived through the social stigma (and continue to do so on some level). My libel case could well have finished me off without the tremendous support from both my family and friends but the people I have had the privilege to meet (such as yourself).

Your post has given me even more inspiration to fight this case and then complete my training to be a solicitor. Thank you for all that you do. It does have an effect on other people and especially on me.


Dawn Sinclair said...

Congratulations, I feel you sell yourself a little short with regards to the influence you have - but that just makes you more lovely!