Genesis Of A Blog

Observatory

In August 2008 I started this blog with a post about the neighbour in ‘Bewitched’.

The posts were short and funny. They were not often about books.

Sometimes we had songs or musical numbers. We had competitions, crosswords and treasure hunts, as if we were big children.

Most author websites discussed literature, but I didn’t want to take a busman’s holiday, so I cut loose with foolish things that amused me. If I’d wanted to discuss Aristophanes or Barthes here I would have done so, but this was ‘Picture Book’ for writers and their friends. In fact, whenever I posted about literature hardly anyone bothered to comment, so I phased most of those posts out. People only add comments on things they can get their heads around, so if I wrote a piece called ‘Camus and Marmite’ the posts would mostly be about Marmite. Which is understandable.

Often I posted five or six times a week. It was exhausting work that I fitted around my regular working hours, because I loved doing it. I hardly even remembered my publisher’s request; to promote my books. Witty voices emerged from regular followers. I still miss Dan Terrell’s urbane humour in the Comments section.

In December 2019, I collapsed with flu-like symptoms. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with cancer. Later the pandemic began, and between chemo and radiology my life became very challenging. I logged some of funnier/grimmer events here. Even when I discovered I was terminal I kept up the blog, although it’s hard to be the court jester when you’re on morphine.

Now that I have limited time which I should be spending on writing books, the blog is becoming harder for me to maintain. It’s not been helped by a new element coming in from a few disgruntled readers in the Comments, complaining that the posts are too serious. I suspect what they dislike are my liberal politics. Well, I’m a North London gay leftie non-driving, hipster-restaurant-dining, fringe-theatre-going liberal fucking nightmare. So if you can’t deal with that, be off with you.

They’re right, of course. As the blogs are written spontaneously when I rise, my current mood seeps into them. But it takes too much time and energy to continue this, so I’m considering my options. If I do end the blog we’ll have one last laugh and after that you’ll be able to find me on Twitter.

 

91 comments on “Genesis Of A Blog”

  1. John Griffin says:

    Thank you, whatever you decide.
    I not only have loved your B&M books, as well as others, but I have enjoyed the banter as others – more erudite than me -have brightened up my universe. The world needs far more gay lefty liberal wits like you.

  2. Keith says:

    Hi Chris,
    I’m definitely not a ‘new-age’ leftie, though I once supported the left wing movement, I was a member for a long time of the PPU and nuclear disarmament (another time another place), and Michael Foot was one of my heroes. Still though, I love your blog, and even though I’m not on twitter, I do try and keep up with whatever’s going on in Fowlers world. As a cancer sufferer myself, now doing added time, I admire your strength and courage and whatever you decide to do, nothing will put me off my love for your books.
    As John said, they brighten up my universe too.

  3. BarbaraBoucke says:

    Wayne Mook – don’t know if you’ll see this but I’ll write it anyway. Thanks for the turnip reciipe and the Marks and Spencer mention. Every trip to England found me in the Food Hall more than once. I loved all the fascinating foods I found there – especially if rhubarb was one of the ingredients.

  4. Debra Matheney says:

    Do whatever YOU want. I am sick and tired of people only wanting happy, uplifting drivel instead of reality. Democracy as we knew it and the earth are dying before our eyes. COVID is a mess’ and climate change is real. Denial is a cop out in my mind. I wish you fulfilling days and hope you find pleasure in what you enjoy. I am a fucking fellow liberal. Because I live in California, I drive. I miss live theater and dining out.
    PS I just read Bewilderment. Deeply disturbing, but well worth the angst it created for me.

  5. Vic says:

    As others have said – You must do what is best for yourself.

    To me you have attained immortality, never to be forgotten. I shall continue my self-imposed evangelical crusade to enlighten those I meet about you and your books. I am encouraged by some success which is more than when trying to persuade people the advantages of brown rice. Incidently your description of yourself will certainly help my cause.

    One request. Please find a way to keep the Blog available as a reference source for Fowlerites.

  6. mike says:

    you’ve stirred up a real hornets nest here!
    Just to add my two penn’orth I would miss this blog but I’d miss you and your books more.
    Good luck and happy days whatever you decide.

  7. Wayne+Mook says:

    Sorry Chazza, the bankers made me do it.

    Barbara you are most welcome. At the moment there has been an argument about M&S’s Halloween line being ‘revolting’ while other think it’s splendid. The Bleeding Brains are the main culprit, I’m currently eating one as I type. Chocolate shell (brain shaped) with gushing red caramel inside, so you can guess which side I’m on.

    Peter if I did it would probably go more the way of Keith Floyd TV chef with a lot less food knowledge.

    Not sure about this twitting thing, I’ve got involved with FB and I’m not so sure about that.

    Wayne.

  8. Corina Grigorescu says:

    Dear Mr. Fowler I have enjoyed reading your books immensely because I like London I have visited it every summer, going to the theatre, etc. Your books have also been and are therapy for me because I keep rereading them when I am stressed ( my mother got ill six years ago) and I would like to thank you for creating a world in which I can immerse myself, an interesting, erudite, funny and optimistic world if I can put it like that. I wish you good health and believe that miracles can happen! Maybe you are an atheist as I was , but I am praying for your recovery! Respectfully yours, Corina Grigorescu,

  9. Joel says:

    as stu i am said “You generously permit just about all comments and related asides, tangents and diversions and allocate as much ‘space’ as needed to accommodate all. Thank you for that. To the best of my knowledge, no one is forced to read all of the comments; that’s what the scroll function is for, and should a ‘satisfying’ comment not be found, there’s always the next time. Or one may be contributed…i usually stop by here on my lunch, mon to fri, and it is enjoyable…so as i heard bette midler say, “kiss my tuchus (had to look up the spelling) and plant a tree for israel”..i’m not entirely sure what she meant, but i’m pretty sure it was irreverant and it always made me laugh…much like you and your bm books…thank you.

  10. Richard says:

    I know that most publishers loathe collections of essays, but have you ever considered gathering in a book your favorite blog posts (comment free but revisions permitted)? I’d buy it.

  11. Gareth says:

    The Perculiar Chroniclers Universe will be poorer for it. Thank you for the time and effort it’s a wonderful companion to your fantastic books.

  12. Janet Couture says:

    Thank you for Arthur and John. I have enjoyed the journey and will miss them.

  13. Helen+Martin says:

    Richard, that was one of the suggestions for the “thank you” gift to Chris and Pete, but it would have been impossible to have done it as a surprise. What do people think, though? Would it be a good idea? Would you like it, Chris? Is there something you would like? We’re prepared to fund a one of edition – selected posts? Posts that match to passages in the books? That would be something that a lot of us would buy if it was a limited edition instead. I knew I’d get a good idea eventually. What do you think, Chris? I know you wouldn’t want to do the editing but I know there are those here who could and you can have your choice.

  14. Ed+DesCamp says:

    @ Stu-I-Am: that’s perfect. Thanks.

  15. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Helen+Martin I think CF would almost certainly want to curate any ‘published’ collection, which would probably be an imposition at this time, when he’s trying to finish a book or books. There would probably also be rights issues which would have to be worked out. It’s not that it isn’t a nice idea, and couldn’t conceivably be ‘self-published’ (although that would probably be one of those rights issues), but it would be a ‘project’ and one that almost certainly would have to involve CF and his representatives.But this is me speaking, not CF and he would, of course,have to be the final arbiter. Not sure sufficient funds could be raised, but I would almost rather see some kind of literary award in his name (so long as it doesn’t go to Richard Osman )

  16. Roger Allen says:

    “I’m definitely not a ‘new-age’ leftie…”
    It’s odd how things go, Keith. Fifty years ago I was a “one-nation” Tory and was derided as next door to a fascist. Today I hold much the same opinions and the people who derided me as next door to a fascist think I’m a dangerous leftie.

  17. Jan says:

    Sorry Chris only just found this
    Do what’s best for you here hope you are doing ok. Jan

  18. Phil says:

    What a sad day it will be should this blog finish. Entertaining, witty, wise, erudite. Apropos the ruder elements now cropping up I came across this comment in an article from The Oldie : ‘when it comes to posting comments, normal, balanced, polite and thoughtful readers are greatly outnumbered by bigots and the unreasonable’.
    Thanks admin, and all my best wishes.

  19. Roger says:

    ‘when it comes to posting comments, normal, balanced, polite and thoughtful readers are greatly outnumbered by bigots and the unreasonable’

    An exception here, Phil.
    Perhaps we should keep posting comments for ever and Admin can look in for amusement when he needs a rest from his literary labours.

  20. Keith says:

    Why don’t we all have a go at creating something crafty, comical, horrific, witty, poetic, nonsensible….just to cheer our favorite author up, to read at his leisure, pleasure, or just to cringe at 🙂

  21. John Griffin says:

    Roger, I can empathise. in the 70s I was an MOR Labour type, neither a pacifist nor a treehugger, a family of mostly Labour voters who served HM in the forces, education and the Strength (cops) – and haven’t changed my views much. Now exiled from Labour as a dangerous far left type.

  22. Stu-I-Am says:

    @John Griffin Guess the question is, have political parties and their ‘labels’ outlived their usefulness (assuming you agree they ever had any, of course) ? A growing number of political scientists say they have, and suggest the notion of an ‘open democracy,’ in the face of the loss of considerable goodwill and influence by the parties throughout the world. There have been a number of small scale ‘experiments’ that show it might work — with an emphasis on ‘might.’ Btw — since this may be the last time I will be able to say this, please allow me to thank you (and in so doing, your teaching colleagues as well), despite an alarming lack of respect in the public at large and financial support, for the critical work you do in trying to hold off the ‘barbarians at the gate.’ You are the first (and too often, the last) defense against ignorance and small-mindedness, and I thank you for persevering at what must often feel like a thankless task.

  23. Brian Robertson says:

    A couple of years ago I picked up a copy of “Strange Tide” at a car booty for 50p (apologies to Brexiteers, I’m not sure what that is in LSD). Since that serendipitous day I have hoovered your oeuvre, and at full price I should add. Hence the addiction you foisted upon me has earned me a right few quid on my Waterstones loyalty card. Thank you for this and for the countless weird & wonderful tangents of research your Peculiar pair have set me off on. I look forward to finding more next time I hoover, cos’ we always miss a bit…
    Love & peace.

  24. Hazel Jackson says:

    It’s your blog. Write what you like. I shall enjoy it whatever

  25. Tim Lees says:

    I love the blog — it’s one of the few excuses for not working that I can actually justify. Its highlights, including some of the grimmer pieces of late, should be collected in a “real” book (you know, one of those things with pages and stuff). As for continuing it, you must do what you need to do. I will say that, through the blog, twitter, the books and various other means you have built up a following that is not merely admiring but also deeply affectionate. Not many writers achieve that!

  26. Sarah Griffin says:

    Dear Mr Fowler,
    By pleasing yourself you have pleased others, so do what pleases you. This is your time.
    Your work, attitude and disciplined/tangent mind has been appreciated and given a great deal of resonance to all your readers of the blog and readers of your books.
    I wish you long lasting clarity and continued fascination with the mechanisms of the world and humanity.
    Xx

  27. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Roger I think your suggestion of hijacking the blog à la HAL 9000 (Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’) is an inspired one. Who needs ‘Dave’ (a.k.a. Christopher Fowler) — we’ll just carry on by ourselves, continuing to demonstrate our sentient intelligence. ‘Dave’/CF might even occasionally get a smile (or a grimace…) from the effort. As HAL informs ‘Dave,’ ‘This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.’ Of course we need the participation of the others (or do we ?) and some topics. Then again, ‘Dave’ could do a reverse HAL on us and refuse to open the ‘pod bay doors,’ as it were.

  28. Helen+Martin says:

    That’s not a bad idea, but someone does have to get Chris’ permission to act as admin. And no one else could ever be anything like the same. It would be a blog *about* Chris Fowler and his books – and London, of course.

  29. Rupert says:

    Why not just turn the comments of Chris? We’ll still be reading. (And the more left, gay, and liberal the posts the better!)

  30. Peter+T says:

    Continue the blog without comments or continue the comments without the blog or a reduced blog effort and calmed down comments version of the present system? All are possible though they may require application and goodwill.

    Some interesting reasons given to the UK authority for loss of a vehicle registration document:
    My parrot ate it.
    I left it in a hotel when crossing the Gobi Desert during my gap year.
    My grandchildren buried it in the garden.

  31. John Hudson says:

    I’d be very sad to see your blog end. Please keep it up as long as you can, and I wish you luck with your health.

  32. Stu-I-Am says:

    Since we all need something to smile about these days (or at least something that doesn’t set our teeth on edge…), I thought this year’s winning entries in the Ig Nobel Prizes for Improbable Research might do the trick. The awards are presented each year at Harvard University in the US by Nobel laureates. Who says scientists don’t have a sense of humor ?

    (Ecology) Using genetic analysis to identify the different species of bacteria that reside in wads of discarded chewing gum stuck on pavements in various countries.

    (Chemistry) Chemically analyzing the air inside cinemas, to test whether the odors produced by an audience reliably indicate the levels of violence, sex, antisocial behavior, drug use, and bad language in the movie the audience is watching.

    (Economics) The discovery that the obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption.

    (Peace) Test of the hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from punches to the face.

    (Biology) Analysation of variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat-human communication.

    (Kinetics) Experiments to learn why pedestrians do not constantly collide with other pedestrians.

    (Medicine) Demonstration of the link between sex and nasal function. (Finding: It works as well as a nasal decongestant)

    (Medical Education) Demonstration of a “self-colonoscopy” technique using a small endoscope.

  33. Stu-I-Am says:

    Following Helen’s suggestion (to start with) how about alternative titles (or subtitles) for the B&M series books ? Fanciful or ‘sensible’ but preferably related to the plot. Who knows — they may more readily translate (and be understood) in Hindi or Japanese, should at least some of the series finally be rendered in other languages. For ‘The Victoria Vanishes how about — ‘Pub Today, Gone Tomorrow.’ (Collective groan is heard) No doubt you can do better.

  34. Peter+T says:

    Matchstick Men
    My head’s on fire
    London’s Gory

  35. Stu-I-Am says:

    ‘Full Dark House’ = ‘Mythchief’

  36. Stu-I-Am says:

    @admin If you’re still looking at this, how about a review of Bond Nº 25 ? Were you stirred or shaken ?

  37. Nelle Stokes says:

    I’m late to the party as ever. I’m in Florida, where my beloved 97-years-young mother is in the hospital with two fractures, multiple stitches and a mild concussion resulting from a fall. Hospitals are overflowing with patients, and the governor… well, the less said about that unfortunate waste of space, the better.

    @admin, this blog has made me smile, and think. Your books make me do both of those, plus laugh and cry. Life is too too damn short. You should do what you need to do. Just know that you, and your work, matter. I, speaking as one of many, am a very grateful reader.

  38. Roger says:

    ‘Pub Today, Gone Tomorrow.’ – ‘Beer today, gone tomorrow’, surely.

  39. Phyllis says:

    I’m sunken into a chair Arthur would envy in the waiting room of a tire warehouse. I’m trying to figure out what the hell a crank pulley harmonic balancer is and why I need one. I think I’m being had.
    I’m sitting here rereading the blog, a smart spot in another day of listening to dull people speak in emojis.
    Let me be selfish, Chris, I’d love you to keep on keepin’ on but that’s me and not necessarily compatible with what you need to do for you. Blogs are work, at times too much. You know better than any of us what your daily limits are. Whatever you choose to do, I’m good.

  40. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Roger. Of course, give the man a stuffie of his choice!

  41. Mitchell Greaves says:

    Hi, I’ve been a big fan of your work, can’t count how many times I’ve read Roofworld. I’m shocked to hear your health news. I hope as the days pass you can face them with strength and dignity, and of course your usual wit and dark humour. Much love.

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