sábado, 1 de septiembre de 2007
The likes and dislikes of a 95 year old blogger
Giles Tremlett Saturday September 1 2007
340,000 hits for woman with fans in Alaska, Australia, China and Nigeria
She is billed as the world's oldest blogger. At 95 years old and with a worldwide following that has seen more than 340,000 hits on her blog, Spaniard María Amelia López has achieved the kind of status that millions of younger internet chroniclers can only dream of.
López, who was introduced to the world of blogging by one of her grandchildren just eight months ago, has become such a global hit that she receives posts in languages as strange and impossible for her to understand as Russian, Japanese and Arabic.
"My name is Amelia and I was born in Muxía (A Coruña - Spain) on December the 23rd of 1911," she wrote as her first post on amis95.blogspot.com. "Today it's my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog."
With a mix of humour, warmth, optimism, nostalgia and feisty outbursts of leftwing polemic, she has won a regular readership of people keen to find out just what this Spanish great-grandmother is going to say or do next.
"You have to live life," the silver-haired blogger said in her most recent post. "Not sit around in an armchair waiting for death."
Her blog tracks not just a nonagenarian's day-to-day battles against aches, but offers musings on everything from politics and religion to broadband and death.
Among her chief hates are old people's homes, which she criticises for drugging their clients so they spend their final days snoozing quietly in front of the television.
New lease of life
"I blame the children, who don't want to help them," she said yesterday from the house beside the Atlantic Ocean in Muxía, in the rugged north-western corner of Spain, where she stays during the summer.
"Internet has given me a new lease of life, but I don't see any old people's homes offering their residents internet," she said.
López, as the recent pictures of her shaking maracas in a Brazilian hotel prove, lives as far as you can get from the "do-nothing and wait-to-die" culture that she regularly lambasts.
Her grandson Daniel, with whom she lives, taught her to navigate the internet after she pestered him to download biographies of poets and politicians. She likes to read online newspapers, for which she boosts the font size, and stay up-to-date with medical and scientific advances.
The blog was a gift from Daniel, who had no idea what he was unleashing into cyberspace. He has become her chief assistant: López navigates with the mouse while he types in the words she dictates.
"Now so many people write to me that I can't hope to reply to them all, though I want to," she explained. "My grandson complains that he has to work as well, he can't spend all his time typing."
Much of her traffic comes from Spain and Latin America, but newspaper and television interviews, with YouTube links given on her blog, have spread her name beyond the Spanish-speaking world.
When Daniel is not to hand, other assistants pop up on her blog, be they friends or hotel cleaners in Brazil.
"I love you, grandmother," said one Brazilian hotel worker who was drafted in to help.
López tells stories of her childhood and youth in Galicia. She recalls, too, the terrors of the Spanish civil war, and how her brother was sent to the front aged just 16- and came back with one leg shot off.
She was fined for refusing to show support for General Francisco Franco's National Movement. "I must be the oldest socialist activist in Spain," she said. "I've been socialist since I was 16, but my father would never let me actually join the party."
Her dislikes include daytime pill-popping, crude language and telephone companies that are slow to install broadband. Her main loves are poetry, politics, childhood memories, her native region of Galicia, a Jesus Christ who dislikes wealth and, she says, "the workers".
She has acquired readers in such far-flung places as Alaska, Australia, China and Nigeria.
Some people have suggested that she cash in on her popularity by getting paid-for advertisements placed on her blog, something she rejects. "I did this to amuse myself, not to start competing with people or making money," she said.
Fans in high places
Her fans include Spain's socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. A letter from his office is one of many documents that she has posted on the website.
"May you keep going with this for a long time," the prime minister told her.
The admiration is mutual. "I am not cultured enough for a prime minister to be writing to me. I am just a little old lady," she said. "I hope he governs us for a long time, because he is a true patriot."
López's blog may be popular, but she is the first to admit it may not last long. "One day soon I am going to die," she said. "All I am really scared of is losing my mind. In the meantime, I'll carry on."
In her own words
"Old people need to wake up a bit. Get your act together!"
"Life has to be lived. Don't take pills and fall asleep in the armchair."
"Scientists and inventors should try to create something to help the workers rather than inventing cannons and machines that kill and destroy."
"If I die when I am there [on setting off for Brazil], then they can incinerate me and send me home in a little box. I'll be a bit bruised by the time I get there, but this is an opportunity I won't have again."
"I'm not important. I'm a little old lady."
"I used to be shy about saying things, but now that I am old I am a lot more direct."
"There is nothing better than exercising the brain."
"I've read Jesus's life and I know he wasn't interested in luxury."
"To all the little old women in Spain, and those who think that I am not well [in the head] ... This old woman is on her own right now, but she is chatting on the internet and having a fantastic time."
"Does anyone know what language this is?" (beneath a message to her in Arabic script)
"No one listens to old people."