Absolutely. All that’s changed is the place where I’m living. In 2004 Bow was just an overlooked neighbourhood in East London, and then in 2005 a Frenchman opened an envelope and dropped an Olympics on my doorstep. My flat hasn’t changed, and most of the streets close by haven’t altered much either, but the area just across the river has changed utterly. It’ll be a while yet before I stop living on the edge of a building site, but the ripple effect of that Olympic summer will last for a very long time.
Would we recognise you if we passed you in the street?
I hope not. I’d still rather be a playing card than a person.
What do you think is the best/most important new technology/online thingy to have appeared in recent years?
Twitter’s ace, isn’t it? I don’t use it much, but as a way of keeping up with what everybody else is thinking it can’t be beaten. However I do suspect that Twitter is also to blame for the fact that so many Uborka-generation bloggers have given up writing in long form. Why go to the effort of joined-up paragraphs when you can make your point in 140 characters or less, and get an instant response into the bargain. Please continue talking between yourselves, and I’ll carry on spouting paragraphs in the corner.
We all had a blog back then. Do you still have one, or are you mainly present somewhere else?
Do I still have one? Of course I do, I’m not some internet lightweight.
What achievement of the last 7 years would you most like to celebrate here?
Still being here. Seven years is about 2500 days, and I’ve posted something on almost all of those. The series of posts that best sums up this madness must be my Random Boroughs feature. Four Saturdays a year, for eight years, I picked a London borough from a set of folded slips of paper in a jamjar, researched the place in an hour flat, went out and toured its most interesting sights and then came back and wrote about it in depth for three consecutive nights. You have to be proper bonkers to do that, without once thinking “ah stuff it, Hillingdon’s actually quite boring”. The entire 33-part series was inherently pointless, but I’m still well chuffed to have got to the end, and I know I have a hugely better understanding of the entirety of London as a result.
And here are your questions from Anna:
How, after all these years, do you still find such boundless energy for your blog?
I have a sense of blinkered persistence, an inner urge which forces me to write stuff even when it might be more sensible to slouch on the sofa and do nothing, or to go out for the evening, or to go to sleep. And I have the time. Unlike you, dearest Anna, I don’t have another half to cosy up to, or a young toddler occupying my every waking hour, or another house move to organise. My evenings and weekends are a blank canvas, so either I fill them with blogging or else I’d have to get a social life.
What do you consider to be the ‘Golden Era’ of your blog?
Through necessity, rather than choice, it has to be last year’s Olympic summer. For a couple of fortnights my hyperlocal blog had global relevance, and the readership figures have never been higher. Even better I somehow managed to combine going along and attending tons of events with squeezing in the time to write about it, and what I’m left with is a first-hand account of an unrepeatable event.
And why would anyone with any sense ever live more than a mile from the sea?
I know I know. I have to make up for this deficit by visiting the seaside at regular intervals, often the Kent or Sussex coast, for a good maritime blowout. I do live about a mile from the Thames estuary, which is technically the sea according to some definitions, but in reality I’m entirely landlocked until the Thames Barrier fails.
Who would you like us to interview next, and what shall we ask them?
I’d like to invite Lyle, thanks. I’d like to know how he copes with moving around the country so often, and whether he was secretly glad to escape from Norfolk. I’d like to ask how he’s feeling about 80 days time, if that’s not too impertinent. And I’d like to know if anyone’s ever bought anything off his Amazon wishlist.