Could write prose today
But inferior haiku
Tend to get more ‘likes’
Could write prose today
But inferior haiku
Tend to get more ‘likes’
Hello, I’m James and this is my latest post on a blog I like to call James Proclaims.
It’s not really a blog about weight-loss or fitness, although occasionally I have used my own lacklustre attempts to improve my health and wellbeing as the basis for some of my posts, which for the most part are meant to be amusing rather than inspirational.
I can’t tell you how to lose weight and feel great in three simple steps. I doubt there are three simple steps. Assuming you have no underlying medical conditions, if you eat healthily and do a reasonable amount of exercise you’ll probably be fine. I don’t think there are any obvious short-cuts, but I’m no expert. I don’t wish to dismiss how difficult it is to eat healthily and do regular exercise either – I find both to be soul-destroyingly difficult. Nonetheless, I think that is the only route that will yield results.
Obviously if you’re a regular visitor, you’ll have probably worked out that the title for the post was a continuation of a theme I started last week, when I decided to write a post with an obvious click-bait title to see if it attracted more people to my blog. I mainly did it for a laugh, but I also learned a valuable lesson. Which was that writing click-bait titles that have little or nothing to do with your post does actually work, if your sole goal is to attract more visitors to your blog.
And to be fair, although I did acquire some new ‘bot’ followers, I also did get lots of comments and engagement from real people. I was unduly rewarded for my Machiavellian ways and it was a busier day than normal over here at James Proclaims Towers*. Certainly, busy enough for me to try the same trick again this week.
Last week’s click-bait title was specifically pitched at other bloggers, and ultimately, although my post did not help anyone to generate additional followers for their blogs, the post in question was at least about the whole concept of blog followers, so hopefully none of my new visitors left feeling hugely short-changed.
It would only seem fair, then, to dedicate the rest of this post to the topic of weight loss.
But that does seem a bit boring.
So, I’m not going to do that.
Hello, I’m James and you are currently reading my latest post on a blog that I like to call ‘James Proclaims’. There’s a chance that you already know this of course and that you came here to sample my latest offering because you generally find my output tolerable. However, if you’ve stumbled here by accidently clicking on the wrong link or some other internet-related mishap (we’ve all been there), then I still want you to feel welcome and appreciated. We at ‘James Proclaims’ value all of our visitors, regardless of the circumstances that led to them finding themselves here. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’. I sometimes like to pretend this is a team effort, but it isn’t. This blog is entirely my fault and my fault alone.
There is, of course, a chance that you’re reading this on the basis that you were enticed by the ‘click-bait’ title I decided to give this post. If that is the case then I’m genuinely sorry. It wasn’t my intention to mislead you (well it was, but only in a misguided attempt at humour). In all honesty, there is very little chance that continuing to read this post will help you to get more people to follow you on whatever social media platform you’re currently operating on.
Because I don’t know how to do that.
Certainly not in three simple steps.
I don’t have that many followers.
Actually, at the time of writing I do notionally have something like 850 followers. Some bloggers would consider that a lot, while others would look on me with condescending pity as they bask in the glory of having thousands of followers.
850 is fine with me. It would be even better if there really were 850 people regularly reading my posts.
There are not. I think there are reliably about twenty people worldwide who actually read most of what I write and then maybe another twenty or so people who occasionally read what I write. I could be wrong. There could be more than that, there could actually be far far fewer than that.
The other 810(ish) followers either consist of people who did used to read my blog but haven’t for a while, other bloggers who followed me despite having no interest in my blog, solely in the hope that I would follow them back (I’m sorry to disappoint those people but I tend not to do that, although they aren’t actually reading this so it’s probably a redundant statement to make) and quite a lot of my followers are what we in ‘the business’ like to call ‘bots’. I don’t know what a bot is, but I do know that if I write about specific topics, things that normal people write about like health and/or fitness, then the bots go crazy for it. When I write about ducks and puddles, the bots seem less interested.
Anyway, the point to all of this, if indeed there is a point, is that in the month that has just gone, the month in question being June in the year 2020, my blog has enjoyed something of an upturn in fortunes. It was, statistically speaking, the most fruitful month I’ve ever had based on all of the different criteria that WordPress uses to measure the success of my blog. I had more visitors, more ‘likes’ and more comments on my posts in June than in any other month since I started blogging, way back in May 2015. And while you might expect a blog to get more successful over time, that generally isn’t how things have gone for me. My stats for June 2020 eclipse every other month by a considerable margin. The only month that comes close is August 2015 and that has always been an outlier, a beacon of shame if you will, reminding me that every other month has been a spectacular failure by comparison.
There are some factors which may have helped June, not least the fact that I’ve been producing content on a much more regular basis than I have in the past, but as this is my hundredth post in as many days, one might wonder why I didn’t enjoy a similar upturn in fortunes in April and May. Ok, May could be explained by the fact that I wrote exclusively about Star Wars for thirty-one consecutive days and April was fairly niche too because I mostly wrote about 90s indie music. But I’ve had blogging streaks before and they’ve never resulted in a massive increase in my blogging stats. Perhaps the pandemic has meant more people have time to read blogs. Maybe my particular brand of ‘whatever-it-is-I-actually-do’ has been more appealing during these coronatimes than it was when there wasn’t a world-wide health crisis.
Or maybe, somehow, I have finally nailed the art of blogging and June 2020 was the beginning of my humble little online journal joining the stratosphere of the ‘superblogs’. Maybe this time next year I’ll have 8000 followers rather than just 850.
It seems unlikely. But, while I’d like to pretend that I don’t care about things like ‘numbers of followers’ and ‘likes’ and that I’m really too cool for all of that, there is a part of me that has enjoyed this last month.
And I’d like it to continue for a bit longer.
So, I thought I’d get my July blogging stats off to a good start by writing a post with an obvious clickbait title.
Just to see how many more of the bots I could reel in.
Having been largely dormant for much of 2019, my blog has enjoyed something of a resurgence of late.
This may be a natural consequence of all that is going on in the world.
Then again, although it is abundantly clear, even to an introvert like me, that social norms appear to have changed for most of us (or at least those of us who don’t work as special advisors to the prime minister) aside from having to queue to get into supermarkets, not much has really changed for me.
Because I am the father of a very small person. A toddler if you will. So I never got to see anyone or do anything anyway.
Obviously I’m being slightly glib. I think. I’m not actually sure what ‘glib’ means, but it seems appropriate to use it here.
Yep, I’ve just looked it up and it was the right word.
I’m being as glib as a politician who tells you that they are being guided by the science.
Obviously life has changed for me in the last few months, but not as profoundly, I don’t think, as it probably has for people who like spending time with, y’know, other people. And who don’t have an adorable yet demanding small person in their lives.
But, even though I have mostly still been at work (and yes, I actually have been ‘at work’ rather than working from home, for quite a few weeks now, since I established that, as no-one else was there, it was as easy to social distance in my office as at home and far far easier to pretend to be working hard there), my job has changed quite a lot. Because I work in a secondary school, not strictly speaking as a teacher (though I could if I wanted to, I have the relevant pieces of paper that permit me to teach children how to not fail exams, which has, essentially been the main focus of the British education system for many a year now, not least since, fairly early in the decade just gone, when Mr Gove and his special advisor, a certain Mr Cummings, decided that anything resembling a holistic education for children was a massive waste of time), but as someone who attends lots of meetings in which many things are discussed but nothing is ever resolved. And though I have had to attend a lot of the same meetings ‘virtually’ and complete lots of unnecessary paperwork that no-one will ever read, the absence of any actual children in school has been different to say the least.
I’ve still been busy, but there have been fewer distractions and so I may have had a little more time to blog. On the other hand, for the last two months I’ve been blogging predominantly about music and Star Wars, and I’d been planning on doing that regardless of ‘you know what’. The birth of my daughter in August 2018 resulted in the latter part of 2018 and most of 2019 being quite unproductive in blogging terms. Because it turns out that being a new parent is both time-consuming and exhausting. Who knew? Roughly 65% of the posts I wrote between June 2018 and March 2020 were the Christmas-Adjacent movie reviews I write in the build-up to Christmas. And no-one ever reads those. So I’d pretty much decided that I needed to have a couple of ‘blog projects’ that didn’t rely on me writing about movies that may have a tenuous link to Christmas. And I’d planned my April ‘A-Z of albums’ some time in advance of writing the posts. I planned the Star Wars thing a little less well, but notionally I thought it might be fun to do a long time before May arrived. And I was right, it was fun to do.
There’s no doubt that having slightly more time, due to world events, has helped my blog stumble back into existence, but I like to think I would have written most of what I have written without the need for a global pandemic.
But now we’re in June.
And I haven’t planned anything for June.
Except to write the same sort of stuff as I was writing before my extended paternity leave from the blogosphere.
And I can’t quite remember what that was.
I have vague recollections of writing something about soup once.
And I’m pretty certain there was something about the etiquette of waving on a boat.
And I expect I moaned about Brexit a few times.
And there was definitely a lot of bad poetry.
And some stuff was just plain weird.
Anyway, the point, if indeed there is a point, is that I’ve definitely re-discovered my love of blogging, which should mean that there will be a fair amount of content on these pages in the coming months.
But I offer no guarantees as to the quality of that content.
Much like when I decided to dedicate a post to my collection of Star Wars mugs, I’m not feeling quite up to writing a review of an 80s cartoon that no-one remembers today. Which may come as a relief, in many respects, to those of you who loyally read my posts regardless of their content (and although that is quite a small collective, you have no idea how grateful I am that you exist…).
We are, today, over halfway through May, so even if I keep this nonsense up for the rest of the month, we will soon be back to a world in which I no longer blog exclusively about Star Wars.
I don’t know what June has in store for this blog. Perhaps I’ll go back to blogging about the worldwide pandemic, or maybe I’ll focus on my usual mundane offerings.
Or maybe I’ll come up with a new theme. I toyed with the idea of another George Lucas inspired project. I was going to call it Indiana June…
Anyway, back to today and rather than writing about some obscure spin-off in the Star Wars universe, I’ve decided to post some pictures of some Star Wars attire that I own.
It should be noted though, that although I do love Star Wars, if the garments below imply some kind of obsession then rest assured I own at least the same number of tops proclaiming my love for the Welsh rugby team. And a surprising amount of t-shirts which might indicate my support for several football teams that I don’t, in fact, support.
And Superman, Batman and Spiderman are also well represented in my wardrobe.
Essentially I own too many t-shirts.
But these are the Star Wars ones:
And because sometimes it’s Christmas, I also own the following:
Anyway, I’m off to watch more Star Wars cartoons so I can write about them in the near future.
I might even write about one of them tomorrow.
We’re now in the last week of February 2020 and I have clearly missed my goal of making sure I post something on this blog every Monday.
By failing to write anything at all this month.
Then again, the ‘posting every Monday pledge’ was when I was still subject to EU regulations, whereas now we’ve got our country back I’m free to post as little or as often as I want.
Although if I’m honest I would like to post something every week and my failure to do so in February is really a personal failing rather than as a result of Brexit.
Also, the EU don’t really care about my blog.
Which is another reason I’m glad to see the back of them.
Oh yes I may once have been a certified ‘remoaner’ but now we’re actually out I’ve seen the light. Britain post-Brexit is just so much better in every way imaginable.
Except for the fact that everything is largely the same.
But it would be churlish to suggest that Brexit wasn’t the best thing to ever happen to this country just because it was preceded by three years of economic uncertainty and massive social division and that it was predicated on lies and no small amount of racism.
Because now that it’s here it’s just brilliant.
Obviously I was slightly alarmed to discover that I can no longer speak French. I don’t speak a lot of French anyway, what with not having travelled abroad since the glorious decision back 2016 to reclaim our sovereignty, but occasionally I like to practice. But on the 1st February morning the words literally choked me.
And when I popped out to get my morning croissant that day I was met with blank uncomprehending stares in my local supermarket, who offered me a bowl of porridge instead.
And when I tried to get hold of some German sausage I was met with equal incomprehension and no small amount of innuendo.
Obviously, none of the above is true. Although I would always exercise a certain amount of caution when using the term ‘German sausage’. Context is key I find.
Anyway, it’s the end of February, more or less, and this is the only thing I’ve managed to write.
This is, admittedly, not fantastic.
But it’s still more than I managed to write in February 2019.
So this, believe it or not, actually represents progress of sorts.
It’s amazing what counts as achievment when you set the bar low enough.
It’s been almost three full months since I last elected to post on these pages, over five months since the post that preceded that and, aside from a flurry of activity over the Christmas period, it’s been a little over a year since I can claim to have been producing content regularly, so you might be forgiven for thinking that I had given up on this blogging malarkey for good.
But, with literally tens of followers the world over, I was never going to disappear from the blogosphere forever. The world needs James to proclaim. And by James I mean me. I probably should clarify that, because James is not an especially uncommon name. And, if we’re going to be technical about this, it isn’t really my name. It is the second name that appears on my birth certificate, and it’s the name that everyone who knows me uses to refer to me, so I feel I have a justifiable claim in using it for the purposes of the witty appellation of this blog, but the point could be contended. Proclaims isn’t really my last name either, but that feels marginally less fraudulent.
Anyway, I haven’t posted much recently, but regular readers will know that I’ve had some valid excuses, not least the arrival of my eleven-month-old daughter. Approximately eleven months ago. In truth, had I been blogging regularly for the last year, it would have been hard not to make the majority of my prose solely about her. Because I don’t really ever have time to do anything that doesn’t largely involve her in some way.
Then again, my posts have never really been about anything, so to devote most of my writing to the trials and tribulations of being a first-time parent would be out of character for me. Other people do that sort of thing far better than I do. Plus, if I were to write about the feelings my daughter makes me feel then I might inadvertently bring some sincerity to these pages and we could all do without that.
Needless to say, she is an endless source of joy and sleep deprivation. I love her profoundly, but I am very tired.
She is asleep as I write this though, as is Mrs Proclaims (for I wrote this last night). I am watching footage of the Glastonbury festival , which I have been doing for much of this weekend, often while keeping an eye on my, now very mobile, offspring to ensure that she doesn’t put anything in her mouth that might do her some harm, which she seems intent on doing all of the time.
When last I posted I was in the process of not celebrating my 40th birthday. This was less because I was bothered by the landmark birthday and more because my birthday fell on a workday and several days before the dissertation for my MA was due to be handed in. My dissertation was, of course, the other reason why blogging has been hard to find time for in recent months. My lack of posts subsequent to my hand-in date might lead you to believe that I either missed the deadline or that I failed to achieve a passing grade. Neither is true. Although I was very much still writing the first (and as it turns out only) draft in the early hours of the morning of the deadline day, I did submit it on time and not only did I pass, but I did rather well. Which is a little uncharacteristic of me really, as I tend to specialise in underachievement and mediocrity when it comes to academia. Indeed, I did so well that I am, probably unwisely, considering pursuing a doctorate in the not-too distant future. This may be partly inspired by Mrs Proclaims’ academic endeavours, for alongside being the primary care-giver to our small-person, she is also pursuing a PhD. But then she is rather clever. She often gets questions right when we watch University Challenge. Indeed, she is the only reason I even deign to watch University Challenge, which might as well be broadcast in Swahili for all I understand the questions. But while I may not be as academically able as my wife, who actually seems to enjoy studying, I am, I think, capable of dragging myself through the rigours of a qualification that will allow me to call myself Doctor Proclaims. And it’s all about the title really.
But that’s for the future. For now, I am enjoying not having any deadlines. I still have to go to work unfortunately but working in education means that in a few weeks I will have a glorious six weeks of holiday to enjoy.
Which could well mean that I have time to start writing posts for this site on a more regular basis.
Whether I use the time for that purpose is anyone’s guess.
Do bloggers blog about the very act of blogging when they can’t think what else to blog about?
I know I’ve been guilty of that before.
And perhaps I’m guilty of that today.
I’ve got loads of things I want to blog about though, so this post is not entirely about a lack of other topics.
For example I could blog about the time, recently, that I won a massive cake in a raffle. Or how Mrs Proclaims and I survived in near arctic conditions when we thought our boiler had broken, but in fact our boiler was fine and it was our gas meter that had broken (oh the hilarity of going for three days without heating only for the wrong kind of repairman to turn up!)
Or I could brag about how I totally won an argument conducted through the medium of email in work today.
Because I owned that email exchange.
But today I want to blog about this very blog.
Because I have been something of a blogging machine of late. Yesterday I posted my ninetieth post in ninety consecutive days. Today is my ninety-first post in ninety-one consecutive days.
That’s a pretty good record by anyone’s standards.
But some of the ninety-one posts have, I think, been quite good.
Not this one obviously.
But some of them have been.
And now I find myself a mere nine days and nine posts away from hitting a century. A hundred posts in a hundred days.
Will I make it?
Who really cares?
I mean I care a little bit. But it’s not really going to change my life. I won’t even get a celebratory t-shirt.
Maybe I should make a celebratory t-shirt.
That would be cool.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Because I’m not there yet.
Today I’m at ninety-one.
And ninety-one does not make for a cool t-shirt by anyone’s standards.
If you’ve clicked on this expecting a well-thought out classification of all the different chocolate bars available in the UK then you’ll be sadly disappointed.
Also, what is wrong with you?
Seriously, who needs to know about chocolate bars to that extent?
I mean I am reasonably well-versed in chocolate. I’m certainly no expert, but I know my Double Deckers from my Lion Bars and my Twirls from my Twix.
But this post isn’t really about chocolate bars.
Although if you’re in the mood for one you could do worse than any of the above.
But really this post is, as with all my posts, about not very much at all.
Normally I have no difficulty coming up with creative ways of writing about nothing, but recently I’ve been struggling.
Today I had a particularly bad bout of writer’s block
Indeed I have been sitting on my sofa for the best part of an hour starting, and subsequently deleting, various attempts at a blog post.
And even by the particularly low standards I set for myself, I was coming up with nothing that I considered acceptable for these prestigious pages.
And then Mrs Proclaims appeared.
I mean she came down the stairs, she didn’t magically appear in front of me like a genie.
Or someone off of Star Trek.
Upon her entering the room, I implored her to give me an idea to write about.
She looked at me suspiciously, as if having walked into a trap.
And rightly so, for I am not known to solicit suggestions when it comes to content for this blog and I can be more than a little ungracious when unsolicited suggestions are made. (This a particularly blog-specific failing on my part and should in no way be used to judge me in other areas of my life and is certainly no reflection on the state of my marriage…)
“I mean it,” I said in an attempt at reassurance, “I really can’t think of anything.”
Still with a slight sense of mistrust she pondered the situation for a moment.
“Why don’t you write a Taxonomy of Chocolate Bars?” she suggested.
I congratulated her on her brilliance and she returned to the upper rooms of our abode feeling pleased with herself.
Obviously I haven’t written a taxonomy of chocolate bars.
It’s too varied and controversial a topic for me to be able to do it justice.
But I did think it would make a good title.
And I have just eaten a chocolate bar.
It was a Lion Bar if you must know.
I’d have preferred a Double Decker, but we didn’t have any of those in the cupboard and the nearest shop is all the way across the road.
We did have Wagon Wheels in the cupboard.
I’m not sure if they count as chocolate bars, because of their shape.
If only someone had written a thorough and complete taxonomy of chocolate bars so I could find out.
Sometimes, when I can’t think of anything to write about, I write about the fact that I can’t think of anything to write about. It’s a little self-contradictory but it solves a problem.
Equally, when I don’t really have time to write anything, I occasionally write about the fact that I haven’t got time to write anything, even though by writing about a lack of time to write anything, I am proving that I did have time to write something. Albeit something pointless.
The other solution would be to write nothing.
Which may be preferable in the short term but writing nothing on one occasion often leads to a longer-term scenario in which I write nothing for weeks on end.
Which is bad for me.
It may be less bad for you.
But this blog is an entirely self-indulgent affair, for the most part, so ‘bad-for-me’ is undesirable.
Then again, at the moment, I really am quite busy and being busy seems like a state of affairs which is likely to continue indefinitely.
Which means this blog is likely to take a ‘back seat’ unless I can think of a solution.
And one solution is to write shorter posts.
About not very much.
As opposed to long posts about not very much, which is my usual modus operandi.
So that’s probably what I’m going to do for a while.
Write short posts about not very much.
Like this one.
But maybe I’ll aim to make them better than this one.
Although they probably won’t be much better than this if I’m honest.
Last week I was lamenting the fact that I actively got worse at blogging in 2016 when compared to 2015.
And although I rather churlishly claimed in that post that I was going to endeavour to be even worse in 2017, in actual fact I’d like to be a bit better.
Or, you know, more popular.
And having examined my ‘stats’ with a fine-tooth comb (that I bought off a dentist for a very reasonable price) I realised that 2015 was more successful than 2016 because I produced a lot more content.
Simple as that.
In the just-under eight months I blogged in 2015 I produced 153 posts, whereas a whole twelve months of blogging in 2016 yielded just 104 posts.
It was all about quantity and very little to do with quality.
I was clearly a man possessed in 2015, churning out all kinds of second-rate bunkum.
Did I really just use the word ‘bunkum’? What is wrong with me? Continue reading Introducing ‘Artist’s Corner’