Friday, March 06, 2015

The Popular Author Of Self-Help Books On Constipation

It was one of those half silly, half embarrassing conversation most bloggers have had at one time or another. 
"So what do you do with your time these days" (the final phrase "now that you are waiting to die" was implied rather than said)?
"Well, I do a little writing".
"Oh, what type of thing do you write?"
I longed to say something daft such as "the instructions on the back of seed catalogues", "self-help books on constipation", or "epic poems in Gaelic", but settled for the old stand-by.
"This and that"
By now my conversational partner is clearly wishing that she had initiated a conversation about something more interesting such as the weather or the price of a pint of milk. I could see her, trawling her conversational fish-stocks, looking for the next sentence with all the ardour of T S Elliot in mid-stanza.
"What's the most read thing you have ever written?"
For a moment I struggle with the interpretation of the word "read", wondering whether it is an inquiry into the political foundations of my writing, but decide that it is merely an awkward sentence. I feel confident in my diagnosis as I am a bit of an expert in awkward sentences.
"I'm not sure, I will have to check"
She seems happy to allow the conversation to die a natural death at this point and turns her attentions to something more interesting such as clinically inspecting the possible content of the sandwiches. But, as an annoying know-it-all, I dislike being asked questions I don't think I know the answer to, so I prod my iPhone until I reach the Blogger statistics page and go in search of the one post in all the thousands I have published in the last nine years which has received the most page views.

The answer surprises me. It is a ridiculous little post I did back in February 2012 about winning the Pub Quiz which was accompanied by a scan of the Score Sheet. What few words there are are not particularly well-chosen and the subject matter is on the same level as paint drying in terms of capturing people's attention. Nevertheless, the piece - which is entitled Ant Hills Surrounding Everest - has had 5,947 page views which is probably more that any of the plays of Shakespeare had during his lifetime.

I go in search of my inquisitor in order to provide her with the knowledge she was so clearly seeking. She is talking to someone else, but I interrupt as I am older than the person she is talking to and with less time left on this earth.
"It's a piece about Mount Everest", I say, "and about winning the pub quiz"
She looks at me with an odd mixture of alarm and pity and then widens her view to see if she can spot a carer who should be looking after me.

I really must stay in more often.


  1. Anonymous9:46 AM

    She clearly has no idea what she is missing. When does your post about self-help with constipation come out? As it were.

  2. This and that Alan? Well, I suppose your posts are more thisy and thaty than mine which do tend to focus on a particular subject. My most popular post is Kolak Hot & Spicy Crisps Chilli & Lemon Flavour.
    I notice this in bafflement quite often because I have no idea why people are drawn to it in particular. Possibly because now it has reached the top of the "popular posts chosen by you" list?

    Looking forward to news about constipation. What photo will you choose to go with it I wonder?

    1. That's easy : see my post of 8 July 2012

    2. Did you open a museum or just fill the skip?

    3. The sad truth is piles - I just piled things in neater piles so I could fit more it.

    4. Oh piles! I know all about piles. I even have them in several different buildings.

  3. Well, she asked, so she deserved an answer. Heh, heh!

  4. Can't wait for that one, LOL!

  5. No, no, no, you must mingle and chat. You should win a prize for confounding a woman who does not know the art of casual conversation. We do presume she has time to acquire the skill.
    And a PS--my great great grandfather was a weaver in rural Maryland in the 18th century. He was first generation Irish.

  6. Your conclusion is very clever! Maybe you could have shared with her that your caregiver was not with you.

  7. This splendid post has the fiber to surpass any of your previous scores. Shakespeare probably measured for measure his box office receipts. Dickens had great expectation on his newspaper circulation. P. G. Wodehouse could carry on about his news agent's sales. But modern writers like you, Alan, pull it out of their ethernet!


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