Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Closing the Eurogamer Circle: Things I Regret After Nine Years of Blogging

I've had a couple of good day of blogging, which means that traffic will plummet today and I'll be lucky if it crawls into triple figures. Yesterday was a particularly good day because it's rare that the subject of a blog post comes to visit. I think the last person to do that was (WARNING: gratuitous name dropping ahead) Russell Mael of Sparks, who republished my Sparks comic strip on their Facebook page. That was also a good day .

Yesterday's goodness was because Eurogamer's Ian Higton responded to my caricature and post. I don't feel quite as much the misanthrope when people seem to like what I do. Yet the visit made me realise that I've been blogging since January 2006 and that things have strangely come full circle.

It has come full circle because it was a reader of Eurogamer who  gave me my first seriously bad review way back in 2006. I began blogging in the January of that year. I'd set out with a simple plan. I thought if no bugger would read my novels, scripts, stories, or jokes, then I'd bloody well give them away to anybody who wanted them. I started writing fake news stories of that type which have since become hugely popular via The Onion and The Daily Mash. One of my first stories was about Gordon Ramsey being a captain in the territorial SAS and the UK's bare knuckle champion. At some point, a dumb American lawyer found my blog and used it as evidence against Ramsey in an American courtroom. This led -- and here's the coincidence -- to a discussion on the Eurogamer website in which readers wondered where this rumour began. One persistent soul  found my story and described my site as (here I have to paraphrase) 'some shit blog which is supposed to be funny'. Took me a few weeks to walk that one off.

It's been a long nine years. In that time, I've met some good people who have remained friends, good people who slid silently away. I've seen great bloggers give up and truly bad bloggers (and even worse human beings) become household names. I've done things which I'm prou to have done but I've also done quite a few things I really regret.

  • I regret writing a collection of pornographic short stories under a false name and then getting invited to Spain by a guy living with a prostitute.

  • I regret not moving to Spain to live as a prostitute.

  • I once fooled my hero, the great Clive James, into emailing me. That email still sits in my inbox, marked as important and in text as red as my face whenever I think about how shameful my trick was.

  • I had Robert Crumb send me a drawing he did for me (wonderful) but I never knew whether he was quite in on the joke.

  • Sending Jonathan Ross my original 'Harvey Gimp: Masochist in a Yarris' cartoon strip.

  • Putting any degree of effort into getting a reply from Jonathan Ross.

  • Never writing to Hunter S. Thompson. Never writing to Stanley Kubrick. These are my two big regrets.

  • I met Ralph Steadman in London (great) but probably made a bit of an arse of myself because he couldn't understand my accent (bad).

  • Doing that Radio 4 interview. I hate my accent which makes people underestimate me. People think I'm an idiot because I sound so northern.

  • Writing a letter to the Emperor of Japan because a friend told me that I couldn't write to the Emperor of Japan. The Emperor of Japan never replied despite it costing a fortune in postage.

  • Sending a poem to Alan Alda. Alan Alda was possibly the nicest guy with whom I played my letter game and I still feel bad that I probably pushed things a little too far into the 'mildly deranged fan' territory.

  • Not doing any promotion for my book out of a misguided sense of allowing Stan to retain his mystery but really covering up for the fact that I hate my voice and I'm introverted to the point of it being a mild form of autism.

  • Not keeping in touch with friends I made through the blog for reasons linked to number 12 but I didn't realise it at the time.

  • Sending a letter to Chuck Barris, who probably didn't like getting letters but felt obliged to send my postage back.

  • My letters to Alan Bennett. I love Alan Bennett and hate to think that he ever thought me an irritating man.

  • Getting paid for so little for everything I've ever done. I've drawn thousands of cartoons and written multiple millions of words over about 10 to 15 blogs, as well as unpublished books and short stories. The shocking thing to me is that I've never been paid for a single cartoon or comic strip. There are literally dozens upon dozens of common phrases that I can type into Google and see my cartoons appear in the top line of the search results. Even 'Harry Potter naked' brings up one of my pictures but nicked and posted on Uncyclopedia.

  • Being able to do nothing about one of my ebooks appearing on a piracy site two days after putting it on Amazon.

  • Pissing off people I like and not pissing off enough people I dislike.

  • Not being able to afford the price of stamps to carry on my letter writing. When each letter began to cost £1 for two second class stamps, it was literally throwing good money away.

It's been a very strange journey yet the one thing that was my ambition when I started out and I've still not achieved. I've not had a single thing, written or drawn,  accepted by Private Eye. My sister, by contrast, has sent them quite a few tip offs about media stories they'd missed and which they subsequently used. It's depressing. In fact, it's more than depressing. It's nine years.

Wiser men would have given up long before now.


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