Well, that was pretty dramatic, eh? Managed to cram the blog into its little pocket of the internet with about 12 minutes of the day to go. My 100percent record is intact. Just. Let’s hope it doesn’t get quite as tense as that again. I don’t want to be in too many more situations where I’m waiting backstage, listening to Gok Wan, about to go on and perform to more people than I’ve met in my life cumulatively to date, and a little part of my brain is going ‘fuck, I wonder if I’m going to get the blog posted in time’.
What am I saying. Of course I want to be in more situations like that. It was awesome. I must say at this point, though, that if you’ve ever seen me live, you will have seen all the jokes before. It wasn’t the sort of gig where you risk new material. Not for me, anyway. Jack Dee spent half of his set just taking the piss out of the other people on the bill (highly successfully). But he’s Jack Dee.
Huge thanks to the people who have posted nice things about the gig here and on Twitter, by the way.
And so back to the more realistic world of blogging. Firstly, the responses to the Can I Help You? initiative (where I play a sort of agony aunt), the Very Late Review (where you review stuff I should have seen, but didn’t), and the Emergency Blogger Appeal (where I appoint deputies) have all been amazing, in both quantity and quality. It is a real source of joy to me how many people are not just reading the blog but participating. And some of the reviews, in particular, are really funny.
It’s all left me with a (pleasant) logistical backlog where, in the best tradition of the 24hour shows, I have set more plates spinning than I can watch at one time, and I will now spend at least the next year of this blog flailing between them. But suffice to say in the next few days your reviews will appear in consensus, I will choose some deputies – from a remarkable number of applicants, by the way – and I will devote one blog to answering the problems. This should all happen by next Monday.
In the meantime, other aspects of the Ten Year Self-Improvement Challenge can now be brought smoothly together, because I’m delighted to announce that, thanks to Linzy, the TYSIC section of the Fans’ Forum is now officially open. Ideally we would get someone like Prince Philip or Richard Madeley to open it, but as it’s online, I guess you can do a Google image search and get whover you want. Anyway, here it is:
www.markwatsonfans.com/tysic ( think that’s right. If not, you can easily find it via the forum).
Some people are doing this, but the idea is that you use it as a sort of micro-Twitter to update your Challenge progress, and specifically, you use the cunning function which allows you to publish a short summary of your efforts which comes straight to me. That way I can keep abreast of everyone at once, and report it back to everyone else, and I’m a happy man. It’s great. Sign up now. Or if you are signed up… stay that way. There is now no excuse to shirk on your Challenge.
One more thing. In the terrifying void that opened up when it looked like I didn’t have a blog yesterday, one applicant Emergency Blogger, Miss Anna Lowman, went to the extraordinary lengths of actually writing a blog all ready to go in case I failed. In the end it wasn’t necessary, but I publish it below to give an example of just how determined the TYSIC community is to accomplish our aims. So today is kind of a bumper edition. Thank you Anna, and keep it going everyone. You are making me more optimistic by the day.
Anna’s (Unpublished) Emergency Blog:
You might say I’m writing this blog because I’m taking the call of ‘emergency blogging’ rather too seriously… But I like to think of it in terms of the fact that we’re all in this together and I don’t want Mark’s daily blog challenge to come to an end at this early stage just because he’s off kicking comedy ass at the O2 when I have five minutes to spare. And these five minutes really are taking place on March 30th, I hasten to add. I can’t easily prove that, of course, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that Richard Hammond’s Invisible Worlds is on the telly and I’m currently a little excited by the fact that I only have two days to go at work this week despite it being Tuesday. God bless, well, God, I guess.
I have done this entirely off by my own back, by the way, and, writing this now without having asked permission, I realise that I’m taking quite an extraordinary liberty, and might yet find that it is entirely unwelcome. Indeed, Mark might have actually been looking forward to being able to say “well, missed a day; no need to keep it up every day now! Sweet freedom!” But, hey, I’m taking a chance, and having attended one 24 Hour Show, I think it is within the long-challenge ethos to take the odd risk. We shall see…
So here I am. Completely stalling, as you might have noticed, because if Mark does decide to post this, I’ll be speaking to rather more people than I normally do, and your comments reveal that you’re all so lovely and ambitious and supportive that writing something rubbish and letting you down is really not something I want to do.
Let’s stick with safe ground then, and let you know about my TYSIC. There’s no way we can all keep completely up to date with everyone else’s challenges, so I won’t assume you know what I’m getting up to; instead, I will lower your expectations from the start by telling you that they are deeply unambitious: 1) to read more (as an English graduate, it’s probably a good idea that my weekly word-intake extends beyond the Radio Times) and to experience live sport with my family, rather than consuming it solely from my comfy sofa.
I have to admit that little headway has been made with regards to the second challenge – I blithely reckoned I could call up the Oval and say “four of your best tickets for this summer’s ODI with England’s greatest rival, Australia, if you please” and they’d hand deliver them to me for ten quid a pop. As it turns out, quite a lot of people are really quite keen to go to that test – the price is incredibly high and, in any case, you had to enter a ballot months ago to even be a within a chance of attending. A re-think, then, is in order. I did sign up for Olympics tickets, but I’m hardly going to claim that as any great victory.
I have got the reading bug again, though, and it has quickly become apparent that my protestations that I don’t get much time to read was a total fallacy. There are five minute pockets hidden throughout my average day and at weekends it’s a genuine, happy-making joy to lie in bed reading for half an hour, safe in the knowledge that there’s nothing to get up for.
The first book I read during the TYSIC ten-year period was film critic Mark Kermode’s biography It’s Only A Movie – a real love-letter to “the frenzy on the wall”. His single frame of reference is film; he doesn’t just compare life to it, that’s how he sees it, remembers it. He is self-deprecating to the point of irritation, but his passion for the silver screen – total immersion in it – is undeniable. Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked came next, a good if not brilliant novel about life passing you by and fandom, and after an abortive excursion into a book about Europe circa 1000AD (not as gripping as it promised, if you can believe that) I’m now very much enjoying Vic Reeves’s brilliantly named Me:Moir. He had a childhood just as bizarre and incident-filled as you would imagine, and he has no qualms about weaving truth with the odd flight of fancy.
So there you go. Here endeth my unasked-for emergency blog, except to wish you all very well with your own TYSICs, and to self-indulgently share with you a hidden gem which I now look forward to every week: David Farrier and Rhys Darby’s (Murray in Flight of the Conchords) radio show in New Zealand on “animals of disputed existence”, Bigfoot and the like – The Cryptid Factor (95bfm.com/default,18,bcasts.sm?cast=195285/default,18,bcasts.sm?cast=195285). Whether you give a monkeys about the subject matters not a jot – it’s big-hearted and very funny. And big-hearted, very funny things are to be cherished, I reckon. Cheers for reading, normal service will now resume…