Poison Street

Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.

My problem is, I don’t know when to keep my mouth shut. I’ll say things that other people dare only think, and it makes me unpopular. My friends—I really feel for them, actually—probably view me as a grenade that could go off at any moment.

But the thing about that is occasionally you need someone to say those things; to stand up and be counted; to make a difference. I think it’s part of the same personality trait. I was the first to support Jenny when she made her call-to-arms to save science funding, and I pushed hard behind the scenes to make it happen. I became the focus for the grumblings at Nature Network, setting up first a Facebook group to discuss what we might do, and when my patience finally snapped I built this website. Along the way I’ve made myself unpopular with some people.

Collateral damage, I guess. You do things, you push against the status quo; you actually get off your arse and do something about it—not everybody is going to continue liking you.

The fracas with leaving Nature Network ultimately wasn’t my fault—but I wouldn’t keep quiet about it, which definitely was. I don’t regret that—the things I said needed saying, and the record needed putting right. This is a shame, really. I didn’t get chance to say farewell to Nature Network properly.

I have a lot to thank that place for. It helped me develop as a writer, got me exposure, and even led to a job just when I needed it most. I wanted to thank Matt Brown for his hard work, and Li Kim Lee for martinis and recruiting me in the first place. To acknowledge the people who literally changed my life. And it would have been nice to say so there, to give credit in the place where credit was due. As it is there is bad feeling and smoke in my eyes.

Enough. That’s behind us now. What is, is.

Look, over there:

And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!

—Arthur Hugh Clough

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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30 Responses to Poison Street

  1. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Never a dull moment, eh?

    Well, we’re here now, and we’re free, to do what we want, any old time.

  2. ricardipus says:

    Well done. Extra points for avoiding the obvious metaphor of the burning bridge.

  3. rpg says:

    Indeed. And talking of doing what I want, I’m going to have a stiff drink.

  4. themothergeek says:

    It can be the case that the “loud mouth” is just saying what is on everyone’s mind. If things are getting bad, it is only a matter of time before certain people can keep their yap shut. Kudos to you for standing up for your beliefs and co-workers. I am sorry that you ostracized some along the way but am glad that your gang is still alive at OT (as I enjoy reading you all). Congrats on your new home and I am looking forward to reading the quality work coming from this space.

  5. Mike says:

    Nice to see you’re settling in comfortably. It’s a good looking site and easy to use. Props for that.

    I’m remain mystified and waiting for a response about NN’s goodbye presents to those of you who left recently. They still haven’t quite got the message about communicating with their content providers.

    Does a stale beer count as a stiff drink? Or were you thinking of sex on the beach?

  6. Eva says:

    Not so much a grenade, but a feral cat slowly adapting to living with humans: Sometimes nice, sometimes not, and always unpredictable. And I keep trying to tell people that you’re really nice behind all the growling and hissing, but it’s hard for them to see that when in the background you’re destroying the curtains and eating the canary.

  7. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Can we have a “Like” button, please?

  8. rpg says:

    @themothergeek thanks—you’re inspiring me.

    @Mike, again, thanks. It’s Southern Comfort on ice with a slice of lime.

    @Eva, that fucking canary had it coming. @Cath, Facebook is –> thataway.


  9. Austin says:

    My friends…probably view me as a grenade that could go off at any moment.

    Not for nothing are your initials R.P.G., rpg.

  10. rpg says:

    well, quite.

  11. rpg says:

    I could tell you, but then I’d have to eat your canary, tear your curtains.

    And dissect your cat.

  12. Jenny says:

    Just out of curiosity, why are the above comments gradually listing to starboard?

    I haven’t even had any Southern Comfort.

  13. Erika Cule says:

    @Jenny – It’s because they are nested comments.

    Go get that Southern Comfort. You deserve it.


    My friends…probably view me as a grenade that could go off at any moment.

    Yup, but we wouldn’t have this shiny new blogging network you in any other possible way.

  14. Austin says:

    Heh, Nanaimo. I used to have an aunt who lived there, but haven’t heard from her in years. I hear it’s pretty up that way.

  15. rpg says:

    You’re my best mate, you are.

  16. Kausik Datta says:

    Nested comments rock. Very pleased with the site design.

    RPG, you know how I love to disagree with you, but what you said here is very true. At some point, one needs to stand up for one’s convictions. Nothing ever comes for free. Even in my sadness, I admire your courage.

  17. rpg says:

    Kausik, I’m tearing up.

    Perhaps it’s the Southern Comfort.

  18. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    I can provide some Northern discomfort, if needed.

  19. jonmoulton says:

    Granted I spend most of my time in this trench wearing my helmet, but I LIKE the fireworks. Ooooh, shiny!

  20. cromercrox says:

    Buses and stations. I drove all the way from Cromer to Torquay today. Car got slow puncture. Left airpump at home. Facepalm.

  21. ricardipus says:

    Torquay, goodness me, why?

    Did you visit the Yacht Club? Spent numerous afternoons there with my Grandad, once upon a time.

  22. chall says:

    It is awesome! oh…. I miss BC….

  23. chall says:

    It’s hard to be the one who not only grumbles on the side line but does something… and I guess there are a lot of people out there who see their flaws and don’t want things to change since _they could’ve done something about it earlier too_ …it’s more important to look like “noone can do it so we complain/not ponder about it” than to realise that there is some responsibility in there, right?

    The site looks awesome. Fun adventures in the future, I see…

  24. Mike says:

    An evening with a Geordie lass? Discomfortable indeed!

  25. Frank says:

    I like the feral cat analogy! They look cute but can be scary!

  26. rpg says:

    Thank you Frank, for bringing us back on topic.

  27. rpg says:

    That was a joke, by the way. And this is a test.

  28. cromercrox says:

    This is a test, too (runs away, hides under table and puts paws over ears)

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