I’ve not blogged for a while and I won’t blog in this way, here, ever again. So I’ll write what I want and say what I like. I’m gonna be doing a new blog which is reet different and stuff. It’ll be about television. But. Never say never and all that, and I’ll happily write for other people if they want, but let me explain my ‘why the why and where it’s come from’. Here. Now.
Pull up a chair, this may take a while. Take a biccy and put your feet up on the pouffe.
I’ve blogged as me since September 2011. I was a married me and a stay at home dad to two children at that point. Now it’s May 2014 and I’m not what I was before. Well, I’m still me, obviously, but I’m not married, and I’m not a stay at home dad. To quote Donald Rumsfeld ‘stuff happens.’
I’ve just quoted Donald Rumsfeld. Can someone pass me an antibacterial wipe for my soul?
Anyhow, this ‘stuff’ has gone on and I’ve blogged about it. Divorce, depression, life, cheese, random stuff and very recently the difficulties I’ve experienced with caring for my mum. People have read, commented, offered support when Life got black in the past…. I will never forget how utterly mindscrewing, in a good way, it was when people just started saying ‘Hope things get better’ and ‘Thinking about you’ and ‘If you need a chat, here’s my email’ when things turned in on themselves. Thank you all.
When things have been tough and I’ve needed to spout, people have offered support in many ways, and offered great advice. If I’ve gone random, then people have laughed too. Thank you all for that. I will blog again, but not here.
I had a chat with someone on Twitter today, someone who I was fortunate enough to meet at the last Britmums conference, and I said about Twitter, because that person was having some wibbles, say what you like on Twitter. If people don’t get you saying how you feel, or don’t respond, it ain’t a problem and you can do that. I wanted to say ‘Fuck em.’ We all have our down days. It’s your space. It’s a unique space to just rant and vent about what makes you sad or pissed off. Don’t expect an answer. Blogging is the same for me. I’ve got no agenda. Never had. I’m not selling a book or a range of swimwear. It’s just me. Words about what’s gone on. Some of which I’d love to take back. Some of which I wish I’d never written because of how that can inform what goes on. For others.
Sometimes, those words which come from intense pain can be uncomfortable for others to read so I get why some might vent and rant and feel bad about not getting a response. If someone is having a hard time, we can ALWAYS SAY what we want and people might reach out but don’t expect it. I’ve experienced times when I’ve been low and people have extended a cyber-arm of friendship. I know it works for others. It makes my shit itch when others subtweet about others need for attention and then talk about their ‘need’ for this pair of shoes, or that style snood. Mainly because I fucking NEED a new snood as mine is borked.
I had a chat ages ago, in a pub, with, I shall use a codename and call her Agent Nutella, and talked about how good Twitter can be. The thing that I gleaned from that conversation is that you can see, through who you follow, what some might say, and how two-faced some people can be. You can also see how consistent some people are. You can also see cock pics.
It was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had.
But, I’ve not blogged for a while because SO much has gone on I can’t write it all down. I’ve made those close to me cry because of what’s gone on and all they want to do is help, and take it away. I think when you can’t write it all down as some form of therapy, or don’t have the time, or can’t find the words, it’s good to take some time away. I have done that, and I need to write about things differently. Through a lens perhaps.
I’ve decided to close this one down and write about something else. A new start. A fresh notebook. A change of the bedsheets, so to speak. I’ve blogged about being a dad and parenting and been a PR friendly blogger for a long time and it’s been fun. But, as mentioned above, the stuff with mum has taken precedence. I’ve gone from looking after my children to looking after my mum while also looking after my children. Or, to paraphrase Pete and Dud, and for those that know exactly what’s gwan and ting, not also but only.
I feel bad about it though. The not blogging thing. In the midst of all this working out which shoes my feet went on, while my head was somewhere between London and Barnsley, while I was looking at carehomes and.. ach, LOTS, I’d committed to writing a review for a couple of products. A slow cooker, which was sent to me, and a cracking little baking set sent by @SuzyPelta
Let me do the latter now. The baking set was a lot of fun and a gorgeous wee product. A beautiful little tin containing all the ingredients to make 20 cakey chocolate dough balls, which we made, and put in a little tin, for my girlfriend’s brothers birthday. I didn’t go to the party as I had life and shite to sort out that afternoon. When everyone came back home I asked how the dough balls went down and I was disappointed by the response. Disappointed only because all of them were scoffed while I wasn’t there and not one of them made its way back to me.
Buy this tin of goodness here. It’s a laugh making it with your kids, and so easy even a me could do it. While I had my head up my arse, emotionally speaking.
And so I’ve also moved away from le blogging in a parenting stylii as I can’t understand the relationship between some bloggers, brands, PR and all that. It makes me grind my teeth. I see how, on Twitter, some people moan about not being part of some marketing scheme offered by some companies, I see how people moan about not being paid for blogging, I see how some complain about not getting comments on their blog posts. Three tips: Don’t moan about not being offered a Mark Warner holiday when you’ve been given a Dyson the same day because it makes you sound like a greedy person and it’s all swings and roundabouts. Don’t complain about not being paid for blogging unless you strike that agreement at first point. Let’s face it, a marketing budget for a product is always gonna be skewed towards advertising via telly or journals, press or magazines, and in agencies PR sections claw for a small section of that budget as part of the marketing mix. PR is a very hit and miss art but a lot of the people who work in PR are young, creative, hungry and bright. They also write well and ‘get’ social media and know how it can work. And PR people work brilliantly with very small budgets. They have to. Compared with advertising budgets, £500 for advertising is expected to do the same as spending a fiver in PR and they try to work with bloggers because it can work well for both. A lot of bloggers moan about PR’s. So what if they get your name wrong in the email. Don’t be a dick. If you’re gonna go into this with a PR agency then you’d have the professionalism not to subtweet about it.
I’d love it if PR agencies did the same.
‘Sent an email to a blogger. They wanted £300 for 300 words and a Lexus’ #DontBeADick
It does, also, arse me off to the high winds when I see the SAME bloggers, day in, day out, tweeting about a product they’ve got from the ‘lovely people at…’ and posting pics showing the new Robot Tank they’ve just been given. But perhaps that comes from jealousy as I’ve never worked with fashion brands to get a decent pair of culottes.
People like Suzy and Deborah at Crushed UK, Deborah I ALSO owe a review to, have worked hard on the products they offer, and have also worked hard to make sure the lock on the shed is firm while I type this, because when I do, they’ll let me out.
They deserve success and I love what they do and how they do it. They work with good heart, a solid ethic and they’re also a lot of fun to chat to. Product is also flawless.
What was my third tip? Ah yes. As for comments on your blog?
Well, maybe write better content? Engage people so they do want to make a comment. That comes from content so you are the master of your own fate. You can’t buy honesty and readers respect that. Most viewed posts I’ve ever written? When I’ve been sad. My funny ones? Tumbleweeds. Be controversial or, better, interesting. I prefer interesting otherwise you’ll end up sounding like the Daily Mail or Parentdish.
Apologies to all at the Daily Mail for comparing you to Parentdish, but I digress…
Ask a question at the end of your post. I remember seeing a blogger on Twitter once have a FUCKING MELTDOWN because people were making comments about a post in Twitter and not on their blog because no comments on the blog meant less visitors, which meant that blogger had less interesting stats which might mean problemise their relationship with PRs.
Problemise. It’s a word.
And don’t START me on the monthly drama that is the pointlessness of Tots 100 scores. It isn’t peer reviewed. It isn’t done by votes from the Swedish jury. It’s all bollocks.
And… I’ve felt a bit like a curates egg in the dad blogging community. I’m not an Alpha male, yet it all, sometimes, feels a bit like that. I’m not the grizzly silverback and I’m not the font of all knowledge. I was once told I was ‘famous’ by another dad blogger. I put Crimewatch on the telly that night to try to understand what he meant. I didn’t. I’m not. I’m just me. I’m Tiernan and Keela’s dad.
I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at Britmums last year, and also got the Writer award in the BIBS. Insane. Two people who came up to congratulate me within a minute of sitting down were @ministryofmum and @ageingmatron. I remember getting an email from @ageingmatron one evening and I responded in 5 minutes just before I set the kids down for tea. From that we chatted, and carried on talking. As a writer and a blogger, @ageingmatron has always been someone who’s words I wish I could steal. @ministryofmum is, and always will be, the funniest, warmest, most Oldhamy-midAtlantic soundy, smallest but loudest person I have ever met. Granted it’s a unique space to hold in my life, but she’s a unique person.
I’d also like to thank those at Britmums for being more supportive than I deserve.
I was asked to speak at Britmums last year about what it’s like to be a successful blogger. In my first year I got 120,000+ views and now the average is over 30,000 a month, so I guess that makes me successful in some people’s eyes. Hashtag BOOM. But in that session I asked other people what THEY thought made a successful blogger. Comments, stats, and things like that were mentioned but I remember someone talking about how they once wrote a post about something very close to their heart, and people responded in a supportive way. Too fucking right. That’s the key.
I summed up with my nonsense, which is to write what you want, and to write from the heart. Everytime I sit at this screen I think those words. If you do that then you’ll be successful, as you’ll be doing what you want. But if you want a free Lexus, then please don’t bad mouth PR’s on Twitter.
I may be tired, I’m rambling. I’ve only had a wee pouch from Deborah at @CrushedUK as food today. But it’s kept me going. It’s like Redbull for the soul.
I settled mum into her new nursing home on Tuesday by the way. Thank you to Red for… well. Everything. If I had to write my thanks to Red down on a piece of paper, it would have to be a piece of paper the size of Siberia. Mum has always lived in London and prior to her stroke which did for her, she enjoyed watching TV. A lot. She can barely talk now. Can’t swallow. Can’t use the loo. But she can say no. Clearly. So she’s not totally gone. It’s hard, as it’s all about cognitive capacity. Can she make decisions? Yes and no, is the answer. Which helps no-one. It’s complicated. More complicated when other family members… ach. Enough. I’ve had enough.
Part of the good bits of staying with mum while I cared for her were watching reruns of Law and Order UK and preempting the ‘dung-dung’ sounds. She was better than me as she’d seen them before and would point her finger at me as if to say ‘Ha. Got it. Quicker than you’. She always did. I held my hands up in defeat.
Bad bits involved bathing her. Bad bits involved her self-neglect. Bad bits. Molto bad bits.
The past is another country. In some ways, now, it’s another county. Shakespeare would shit in his urn if he knew I’d violated his words in this way but it fits. LP Hartley would too as it’s his words and not Shakey’s, and Pinter would punch me too, but I digress. The past is another county. They do things differently here. They do them better in Yorkshire. This is Barnsley, where things get sorted.
Mum made the move up to Yorkshire from St Thomas’ Hospital on Tuesday, about 5ish in the evening and this is a good thing. I can see her regularly and… ach. We’ll be okay. She had a long journey in an ambulance and as the nurse was putting her meds in via her PEG I sat down and held mum’s hand.
‘You okay mum?’
She moved her eyes.
I thought about how, at this time of the day, we used to watch soaps. Neighbours, Home and Away, all the rest. 5pm ish was an argument about what she’d eat for dinner and then a settle down to watch the telly. Hollyoaks and then…
‘You’re out the hospital now.’ I said. I tested her cognition. She’s never lived out of London and after such a long journey and due to her stroke I didn’t know what she knew. ‘Do you know where you are mum?’
I guess she knows she’s in Yorkshire.
Thanks for reading. Any word. Truly.
I kiss you on both cheeks.