Who's reading blogs anyway? By which I of course mean, who's reading this blog? I'm not; are you? Occasionally, if the subject of blogs pops up (as it sometimes does when I'm in the room) someone may say I read yours and a couple of others, or they might say I sometimes read yours if it's something interesting and there's nothing real to read. More likely, following the example set by my dad, they'll say no, I don't read blogs. Not yours, no. Actually my dad was kind enough to qualify his dismissal of my efforts by saying I would have read it if you'd written one when you lived in Japan. Which is clearly to be interpreted as I'm not really interested in the day to day drudgery of your work and/or social life, or your thoughts on anything and everything, unless of course they are taking place thousands of miles away.
I could have written a blog in 2007 when I lived in Japan from February until September, teaching English to Japanese students of all ages; I had all the tools (fingers, this very laptop, eyes and a brain), I just didn't know what a blog was. The only place I had ever seen the word (probably, I don't really remember, just pretending for the sake of it) was on MySpace, which was still the done thing at the time. Obviously being on MySpace (ha ha, remember MySpace? I don't cos it was like five years ago.) it was a dreadful fiddly little function that no one ever used. I think I used it once, to write a sort-of haiku series of stanzas about some terrapins living in the pond of Osaka's shitenoji (it's a Buddhist temple). Even if I did 'get' the whole blog thing, it still probably wouldn't have occurred to me to get off my arse, kneel before my laptop and actually do some work.
Had I begun the blog in Japan most days would have consisted of observations about how different everything was, but conversely how similar. In fact, I massively regret not having done that; what a wasted resource and squandered opportunity. The West (you know the west... here) is full of people who want a piece of Japan, that mystical technological mass of people and tradition and funny little doings. If I am successful in my plan to write this blog until the day I shuffle off the stage there will hopefully be further opportunities for adventure and observation. Honeymoon in Tanzania and Zanzibar? Working weekend on Moonbase-Alpha5? Riding like the one-eyed jack of diamonds with the devil close behind?
Instead of drinking whiskey and wearing a cardigan, I could have been blogging in a kimono drinking a sake one-cup, slurping ramen all over my tie like it was the most normal thing ever instead of an amplification of the vile sound of a person eating. I used to just wander around Osaka by myself looking at stuff and taking pictures and finding little places to eat things chosen pot-luck from a picture menu. On a few occasions I had to beckon waitress out of the front door in order to point at the fake plastic food in the window that vaguely resembled something looking like what I wanted to eat. Other times I ate with people more familiar to the country, people Japanese or otherwise, who could help me single out the delicious and the different. What I could have written! I've been meaning to write a post about the hot dog van on the corner of Piccadilly Gardens; that's pretty special.
All of my posts that get the most hits do so because of the pictures embedded or linked to. The two most popular for this reason are one about Ernst Haeckel, the Victorian biologist most well-known for his incredible illustrations, and one inexplicably featuring a picture of some semi-clad girls from Hollyoaks (for my American readers, Hollyoaks is a soap opera so nonsensical, hammy and unrealistic it could almost be American). Recently I've been experimenting with posts free from the clutter and distraction of pictures, in order to see my hit rate trail to nothingness. I might give up on paragraph breaks and full stops too