I shouldn’t be here. This used to be Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard. Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard was basically a travel blog with a disability slant which would often extend to blazing rants about disability access or lack thereof, as well as about the still appalling and lazy prejudices of the able bodied population in regards to disability. But then since a failed experiment at publishing elsewhere has persuaded me to come back to Blogger, you could just trawl through any of the posts on the front page and you would know all that.
Me and my partner Emma travel a lot. We have just come back from the south of France (Marseille, Nice, Monaco, Cannes, Toulon, Antibes) but down the years we have been to Tenerife, Salou, Orlando, Las Vegas, Benidorm, Barcelona, Vilamoura (Portugal), New York and Rhodes as well as cities all over the UK from York to Bath, Stratford to London, Leicester to Manchester, Nottingham to Sheffield.
The reason I say I shouldn’t be here is that on Tuesday night I decided to banish Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard, to consign it to history. This was mostly due to reading a disability-related travel blog by another writer which, although very good, was not spectacular or special or what you might reasonably suggest as being written to a professional standard. I am not a professional myself but I know one when I see one. I have a degree in journalism from the University of Leeds and as well as Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard I have written for FourFourTwo magazine, the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, St Helens Star as well as the now defunct London Football Review. For the latter I interviewed former QPR striker Kevin Gallen who seemed to get quite offended when I asked whether he would accept that he never really fulfilled his potential.
The blog in question was hugely and deservedly well received. There were scores of comments and something like 50 likes on Facebook. In seven years writing Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard, across 260 articles, I have received 67 comments and never more than 10 likes. This led my admittedly depressive mind down a dark path which could only end with a total and utter loss of self regard and motivation to continue. Yes yes, I know. Writing is its own reward (why do you think I’m doing this for nobody in particular?) but after a while a lack of interaction starts to wear you down. My work on my recent trip to France has been completely ignored by the few people I considered my readership, which means either that it is shite or that I am very unpopular personally. Either way, Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard had to die.
Yet the urge to write hasn’t left. Or at least it has reappeared less than two days after this crushing realisation hit me. So here I am. What I really wanted to talk to you about was Victoria Coren-Mitchell. I absolutely love Victoria Coren-Mitchell. She’s clever, sexy and funny. And very likely wealthy. What’s not to like? I’ll tell you what in a minute. First I have to mention her quiz show Only Connect. It’s a modern marvel. That rarity among the genre that is both entertaining and fiendishly difficult. But not in a University Challenge sort of way where your lack of knowledge of 15th century artists leaves you out of the game and disinterested. Only Connect requires some depth of knowledge but is more of an IQ test also. It’s not enough to know facts, you have to be able to identify connections between the things you know. If you haven’t seen it do so this Monday night at 8.30pm on BBC2. It’s a team competition, the format for which is in keeping with the mind-boggling questions, so hard is it to understand.
I’ve been trying to tweet Victoria. Every week I tweet her with some hopefully witty quip about something that happened in the show, or something relating to her Sunday column in The Observer. She has never tweeted me back. The only famous people who have ever tweeted me back are Rod Studd, voice or rugby league and darts on Sky Sports, and Bobbie Goulding, former Saints scrum-half, part legend, part nutcase. Yet I remain encouraged to do this because I see from her feed that Victoria tweets people back all the time. Like Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard, my tweets just haven’t been good enough to elicit a response just yet. Unlike Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard, I haven’t given up.
Last week’s Observer column concerned Sir Ian Botham volunteering to have fertility treatment while remaining at pains to point out that he does not need said treatment. This is when I discovered that there is something not to like about Victoria. In the normally witty preamble to the point of her story, she happened to mention that she had been sifting through the Sunday papers to find an article about Botham and his absolutely not faltering penis. One such paper, appallingly, was The Sun.
Now coming from the Merseyside area The Sun is obviously going to be on the dislike list. It is Room 101 fodder. The disgusting and vile way they reported on the 1989 Hillsborough disaster will never be forgiven. It was a Tory rag before then, but since then it has been nothing but toilet paper. To find that Victoria is among its readership was a cruel blow, a shock to the system. They say you should never meet your heroes. You should never find out what papers they read either.
So of course I tweeted Victoria to ask her to please say it wasn’t so. Her non-response, though predictable and entirely what would have happened had I been tweeting her to tell her that she should be made Queen of England, was still telling. She’s clearly ashamed of her dubious reading habits but doesn’t want to discuss it with a failed blogger who just won’t leave her the fuck alone. It probably won’t take many more tweets before I’m blocked completely.