Reality struck me hard yesterday. Real hard. Hard like Judy’s elbow on a cold Monday morning. It left me so that I couldn’t cope. Couldn’t post. Couldn’t even function as the normal warm caring human being you’ve come to know and, I hope, love. Then it got worse. Dr. Raj wouldn’t answer my calls. He’s apparently still upset about my change of heart about paying for the psychotherapy sessions for all our mice. He’d planned to use the millions in fees to open his own private hospital. Judy wasn’t interested either. She thinks I’ve been a fool right from the beginning. Whisky was the only thing that could ease the pain on a Wednesday morning.
Having been in the public eye for so long, I’m somewhat use to having my own way. The best seats in restaurants, tickets for all the new West End shows, speeding tickets disappearing like an Amazonian’s leafy back garden. There’s not been a thing in my life at which I’ve failed. Until now.
What is this terrible failure, do I hear you ask? I did a foolish thing yesterday morning. I looked at the statistics for this blog.
I don’t know what made me do it. I imagine it was boredom. It’s always been my great nemesis. Nor do I know what I expected to see. I thought my readers might be in the thousands. Perhaps even tens of thousands once I took into account all the millions of housewives we get watching the Channel 4 show. I just wasn’t prepared for what I did see. It wasn’t tens of thousands. Wasn’t even thousands. It wasn’t even hundreds. It was fifty three. Fifty three people bothered to read this blog on Tuesday! We employ more people to produce the trailers for our show.
Things got worse when I looked at the statistics in detail. Seventeen of those people had arrived here from Google after searching for the phrase ‘Richard Madeley is a tw*t’. Hard to believe, I know, but true. Nineteen people came from other blogs where I’ve left some of my typically forthright comments. When I came down to counting the repeat visitors who clearly didn’t hate me, I counted seven. Think about it. That’s seven people who actually enjoy… Hang on, let’s not get carried away. That’s seven people who read this blog every day. And I know that one of them is Judy and another is me. In other words: I have five regular readers.
Once the tears began to flow, the bottle ran dry. I had no option but to ring up my old friend Phillip Schofield. Between you and me, Phil’s an unacknowledged expert on the web. If you can do it virtually, you can bet your bottom dollar that Schofield’s tried it. Hair extensions, penile products, Thai brides, commando holidays in North Korea…
‘Fifty three readers?’ he repeated. Then he laughed, a braying laughter like somebody had just inserted a red hot poker up the non-carrot eating end of a donkey. ‘You’re having a laugh, aren’t you? Gordon the Gopher’s website has ten times that number of hits each day and he’s been dead for ten years. You must be doing something to put people off!’
‘I’m just being myself,’ I said.
The phone went silent.
‘Well I think we can see your problem, Dick,’ he said.
‘I don’t have a problem dick, thank you very much,’ I said, indignant. That kind of loose talk was how the rumours began about Forsyth.
‘No, no, your website. You shouldn’t be yourself. You’ll be telling me that you’re as abrasive on there as you are in real life.’
‘Sod off,’ I said, perhaps a bit abrasively. ‘If telling the truth is abrasive, then I’m abrasive. I admit that I seem to offend a few people here or there. I can’t stick a mouse down a garbage disposal unit without somebody thinking I’ve killed their childhood pet. As for my problem with polygamists, I think it’s only reasonable to upset them. And as for the homeless…’
He gasped. ‘The homeless?’
‘Well, not technically the homeless, per se,’ I explained. ‘There are apparently many different types of vagrant in the city, many different levels. Some with homes, some without. It caused a bit of a stink when I lumped them all together. Though, if you ask me, lumping homeless men together has to be a recipe for something a bit pungent.’
‘There you go again, Dick,’ said Phil. ‘You open your mouth before you realise what you’re saying. That’s why people don’t read your blog. You are incapable of speaking without being deeply offensive.’
‘Yes, well,’ I mumbled. ‘It won’t be a problem for much longer.’
‘What do you mean?’ he asked in that sycophantic tone he has whenever somebody rings up This Morning and sounds a bit suicidal. I don’t know why he can’t just be more like me. I'd cut straight to a break so I could tell them to pull themselves together and do a jigsaw or go read the Guardian.
‘I’m thinking of closing down my Appreciation Society,’ I explained. ‘Do I really want to waste thirty minutes of my day writing a thousand words to an almost non-existent audience of five people? I might as well go work on the BBC if I wanted that kind of exposure.’
I shouldn’t have mentioned the BBC in Phil’s company, not after the way they treated Gordon the Gopher’s funeral. It took six flushes before they could get rid of his corpse. It was no surprise when Phil made an excuse to hang up, though he hadn’t had any useful suggestions other than I should let Judy write the blog and I should be happy nicking suitable photos from other websites like every other blogger does. Only, I’m not happy being like every other blogger. I want to be a shining star among blogs. I want every post to have ninety comments, watch small rivalries develop between groups of readers all vying for my attention. And if I can’t have that, I’m not going to play. I’m thinking of giving up unless somebody can come along and give me a good reason to stay. Any reason. Any reason whatsoever.