I’m not going to beat about the bush here – this is something of vital local importance to anyone who gives a toss about the local environment and wildlife, and I think it’s crucial that those engaged with it please show their support.
One of the longest standing local bloggers, and one who personally has taught me loads, is apparently throwing in the towel. Chaz Mason, hairy heavy rock fiend and birder extraordinaire has announced his blogging has stopped, and the loss to the local wildlife scene will be immense and long lasting.
I implore Chaz to reconsider, and would ask readers to comment here and do the same.
When I started writing, one of the first blogs I studied for tips and local focus was the Clayhanger Marsh Log: focussing on the wildlife, ecology and birds of the marsh, swag and mere, it had a massive influence on me and I still love it and read every post. Chaz shows himself to be what he is – a charming, knowledgable and caring man, who really, really gives a shit about the environment he inhabits.
Chaz has always played himself down as grumpy and antisocial – but those I know who’ve worked with him over the years – including on the stuff for Distinctly Black Country and High Rise Histories tell a vastly different story of a true gentleman.
The 1970s refugee who loves real ale and Canada Geese is so much more than a birder, environmentalist and writer – he’s a local personality and example of what a truly caring person can achieve in their community.
I read the last post with a heavy heart; I recognise his position with grim acknowledgement. It is indeed much tougher to keep a regular blog than many would imagine. It’s damned hard work, and it does become difficult; many times in the early hours of a morning I’ve felt like taking a torch to it all, too. It’s challenging to keep doing something that’s so often at odds with the position of others. It can grind down the spirit.
From emails over the years, I understand that Chaz became weary of campaigning, and fed up of the interpersonal politics around local issues concerning the patch he loves. I understand that.
I also welcome, and am hugely grateful for his supportive words. We both have a history of expressing views other people don’t like. I will not stop expressing mine because some people don’t agree. Anyone has a right to their view, and that includes me. I welcome criticism and debate, but I will not temper what I feel to satisfy the sensibilities of readers. If that loses me a few, I’m not bothered, frankly.
Our function as bloggers is not to reinforce your views, it’s to challenge them, whatever they are. If you can’t accept that, our work isn’t for you.
To do this thing we do, you have to be passionate. I am. I know Chaz to be and it’s that love of place that drives both of us. By expressing his support and irritation, Chaz exhibits the understanding and clarity that would be so lacking if he gives up blogging.
Chaz knows the wildlife around here like the back of his hand. He is a huge champion and asset to a place that is so often overlooked, and more often condemned as a post-industrial wasteland with nothing to offer. Clayhanger Marsh, Ryders Mere and the Swag do so much more than just separate Pelsall from Brownhills. The area has been host – and still is – to some very rare wildlife, which many wouldn’t otherwise know exists. Thanks to the eloquent, educated and entertaining Clayhanger Marsh Log, we now know far more about what we live alongside.
I implore Chaz to continue; I for one would miss his posts immensely, as would all his readers. Please reconsider, old chap. Your championship of the local ecology has been exemplary, and I count you as one of the oldest friends of the Brownhills Blog. You are a total gentleman and a hero to me.
It just won’t be the same without you, mate.