Monday, 4 July 2011

Inexplicably popular in Iowa

Today of all days I'm reminded of something really quite marvellous that happened a few years ago. It was 2007, a momentous year. North Korea announced her intentions to close down all nuclear powerplants in the country. The UN Climate Change Summit was held in Indonesia. JK Rowling released the final final Harry Potter book. In music news, Ace of Bass reformed. And in Japan, scientists announced that they'd discovered a 2,100 year old watermelon.

I know. Crazy times.

Closer to home, a heavy-set bloke in the UK's West Midlands was trying to lose weight for charity. Thinking that it might be nice to document his efforts, he started a blog, giving it a name that made sense for precisely ten minutes.

Yes, I'm talking about this very weblog, dear reader.

After a few weeks our heroic blogger realised that endless photos of his feet on the scales was not exactly going to bring the visitors in, so he started writing about matters of the day; the perceived anti-Wookkiee language in Star Wars, swimming squirrels, dogs that could recite Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative.

Admit it, you're glad I don't write so often these days, aren't you?

Even with these added attractions, the hero of our story was pretty sure he would get absolutely no visitors. It was all too random, too disconnected.

But then something really rather odd happened. The blog started getting hits. And comments. Hits and comments. Comments and hits. You get the idea.

But these comments weren't just coming from his 'real-life' friends and family. In fact, they weren't coming from friends and family at all. (Pause while I raise a virtual eyebrow at those people; the Comment link is there for a purpose, folks).

No, the traffic to Make lard History was coming from all over the place. Some of it was from Britain, but a significant chunk of these readers were, in fact, not from these parts. They had great teeth. They enjoyed wilfully extravagant breakfasts. They didn't just desire happiness, they were actively in pursuit of it.

In short, they appeared to be American.

My experience of Americans until this moment had been limited to a handful of trips to New York. They'd always been unfailingly polite and charming, the people I'd met, however this was perhaps to be expected from a touristy location. But now I was dealing with people from Iowa. And Alabama. And Michigan.

I don't think I've pandered. I haven't Americanised. I don't shy away from references that are peculiarly British. I've written about Marmite, the flying sausage on a fork featured from the opening credits of Grange Hill, pubs and the tills at B&Q.

I haven't covered the whole 'aluminium vs. aluminum' debate. There are some things even I can't solve.

We're led to believe that an American audience needs things to be translated. I don't subscribe to that point of view - and the people reading this rubbish from sea to shining sea appear to be living proof.

There's random stuff here. Impenetrable, sometimes. People who know me in real life often look pityingly at me after some of the posts. But others seem to like it. Well, perhaps 'like' is a little strong. It's maybe more along the lines of 'can't be arsed to unsubscribe'. But this is the Internet. Hits are hits.

I realise that as an Englishman, Independence Day has a particular resonance in my national psyche. In fairness, it's not loss of Empire that plays on our minds. No, we're still having waking nightmares about the whole 'tea-dumped-in-Boston-Harbour' thing a few years earlier.

But it's 4th July, so I will raise a bowler hat to my readers across the pond. I feel I should use some words like 'awesome' at this point, but that would be cheap and unnecessary pandering. Which would be gross.

Besides, I need some tea.


Tom said...

I came for the excellent writing and stayed because of the superior quality of character of the author. And because Fabs is funny as hell! That helped too.

alejna said...

Congratulations on 4+ years of successful blogging! I, for one, am glad to have found your blog. I very much enjoy the way you turn a phrase.

(For the record, in spite of being American, I don't believe that I have ever used the word "awesome" unfacetiously. Also, I don't have great teeth. However, I do say "aluminum." Not to say that I say "aluminum" daily. Other days I talk about zinc or copper.)

greeneggsntam said...

I have used awesome unfacetiously. I am going to have to be unapologetic about it on principal. It's like realizing you've made a social faux pas but you've gone too far to go back. Now where was I? Right. Thank you for your blog. I check in frequently and love your writing. Q: Are you unexplicably popular in Saskatchewan?

fatboyfat said...

Thank you all, the cheque's in the post. Or the check's in the mail.

greeneggsntam said...

Me fail English? That's unpossible.

Anonymous said...

I don't read you as often as I could; of course when I do, I go back and catch up (like now).
You're funny. Very funny. I was hooked back on your column about cold weather - living in Alaska, it just tickled my funny bone. And you still make me chuckle and at times laugh out loud. No translation needed.
Congratulations on 4 years of blogging - that's no small feat!
(from Alaska)


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