Following the sad news of the death of local online pioneer and friend to the blog and wider Walsall online community Mark Blackstock, I posted a short, clumsy tribute here that owed more to shock, loss and grief than anything else.
Over the weekend, fellow friend of Mark and grandfather of the the local blog community The Plastic Hippo has posted a beautiful tribute to Mark that puts into words what I was too ineloquent to say, and I think you should read it – you can do so here.
The Hippo is quite right in what he says: This blog here and now, like his, would not be here today without Mark. It simply would not exist.
I saw the YamYam when I first tentatively started the blog after being posted on it by Mark; the idea that I had anything worth posting there was bizarre, and flattering. Over those short developmental, revelatory weeks in Spring 2009, Mark encouraged me.
Mark’s emails, never asking who I was or what my angle was, encouraged me; they told me I had something to say and that I was saying it well, and that if I just did a couple of things, it would be good stuff. So I did. He would hold publication until I’d finished posts in the wee small hours. He was a gentle, supportive and reassuring voice.
Mark treated my work as he did that of other bloggers: every bit equivalent to published local journalism. Through Mark I learned how little ‘official’ news sources could actually be trusted to get stuff right, and how to watch my back. Mark was both my mentor and guardian.
And from that, we eventually met, and enjoyed some great times. My memory of him drunkenly riding away from the pub jeering into a dark winter night will always stay with me.
There is simply no way Mark’s place can ever be filled. There is a billowing void left by his loss – in this community and in our hearts. Please do read the Hippos piece – it says all this much better.
Sleep well, mate.
Like the Hippo, I am lost, hurting and bewildered.
I include the details of Mark’s funeral below once more, Kindly sent in by Derek Bishton.
The funeral for Mark Blackstock, editor and founder of the YamYam who died on August 3, will be held at Sandwell Valley Crematorium, Newton Road, West Bromwich B71 3SX on Wednesday 20th September 2017 at 1.45pm.
This will be followed by a reception at The Irish Centre, 14-20 High Street Deritend, Birmingham B12 0LN from 3pm – 11pm.
No flowers please. Everyone welcome.
If you have any photos or memories of Mark you would like to share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My condolences to Mark’s family and friends.