When I posted this week’s Tuesday Tunes piece I got a little badge from WordPress congratulating me on making my 500th post:
But as I had to post one of my pieces twice last year, thanks to WP mucking up the timing and relegating it to the lower reaches of the Reader, it only felt like 499 to me. So I thought about what I should do to mark my milestone, and here it is.
I considered giving you some kind of review of the past 8+ years that I’ve been doing this, but had no idea how to go about it. I looked back through the records to see if the categories in which I’d posted gave me any bright ideas, but what would you have made of this:
Thoughts – 236 posts
Music – 106
Mental Health – 47
Dates To Note 39
#SaturdaySongs – 18
My Story 8
Reblogs (of others) – 7
Probably as little as I did! My first puzzle was why the total only came to 461, when I know that every post has been attributed to one of my chosen categories, and in some cases to more than one. My default is ‘Thoughts,’ which WP chooses for me unless I change it, so that’s probably why it is the leader – but if I’ve only had 236 thoughts in the past 8 years it doesn’t seem as if I’ve been over-stretching my brain, does it! It probably speaks of a lazy mind, but if I started a new category for every post the menu would quickly have become like the filing system a secretary once set up for me, in which every new incoming letter or memo was given its own file! I would have expected to see more in the ‘Mental Health’ category, though probably quite a lot of those in the early days went under ‘Dates To Note’, when I was featuring a lot of those. Both ‘Retirement’ and ‘Memories’ added a few more, but not enough to fill the gap. To be honest, the stats were such a jumble that I quickly gave up on that approach, and decided I’d have to do something else instead. But what? A lengthy diatribe about what I have and haven’t liked about blogging, perhaps? Not really suitable for a ‘celebration,’ though, so that idea was consigned to the virtual dustbin. But what this milestone did encourage me to do was to look back on my posts, and I thought that maybe a good way to mark my 500th would be to re-share my very first post, which most of you won’t have seen.
From little acorns, great oak trees grow, eh? Or perhaps in this case, a stunted tree blown about in the wind. I made that first post on 2 October 2012, and here it is:
HELLO AT LAST!
I’ve had this blog set up for 6 weeks now and have somehow acquired 3 brave followers without having said anything, so I thought it was about time I introduced myself and told you what this is about (cue rapid exit of aforementioned followers!). So, I’m Clive (but you guessed that from the blog’s name, right?). I’m 59 (but only just!), divorced, living solo, and I have two beautiful grown up daughters who are the centre of my world. I work in the NHS, for a large Trust in London, and am planning to retire on my 60th birthday. I love books (on a Kindle), music (folk, rock, Americana, alt-country) both at home and live, I enjoy TV sports, especially football and cricket, and am a long-time supporter of Dover Athletic (home town team) and Spurs (someone has to!). All very ordinary then, so why am I telling you any of this?
Almost exactly a year ago, I was diagnosed with depression, along with a still unspecified sleep problem. This eventually kept me off work for nine months, and I went back in July, part-time working up to full-time after a month. As part of this process I was referred for counselling to help me adjust back into the real world, and I’m about two-thirds of the way through a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This has involved a lot of thinking and writing, in ways I’ve never really done before, about me, my feelings, hopes, self view and the whole experience of the past year. And this will continue into the future – I’m still on a high level of medication, barred from drinking and advised to be careful when driving, either separately or together, and still have big problems sleeping. But my counsellor has said that he finds my writing ‘inspirational’ and has encouraged me to start this blog, both because it will be good therapy for me to open myself up like this, but more importantly because others suffering from the same debilitating illness may see something they recognise in this and will hopefully draw some comfort and encouragement from it.
A subject like this could well be, erm, depressing really. But that’s not my way. I intend to write this from my perspective, of course, and I can’t do that for long before throwing in elements that could generously be considered to be ‘humour.’ In no way would I belittle the subject, I’ve experienced too much for that, but there’s no point doing this if people find it depressing or boring to read. And I’ll go off at tangents along the way too – things which strike me as interesting, usually but not necessarily related to my current experience of being ‘in recovery’ from the illness, which I hope you’ll find interesting too.
Enough for now, I’ll start the real posting soon. In the meantime, the three of you, I’m relying on you to help me spread the word and get me millions of followers. No pressure then! See you again soon.
Some of that became the template for my ‘About Me’ page, and I should point out that the original blog name, to which reference is made there, was the incredibly imaginative ‘Clive’s Blog.’ The current name was chosen when I retired, to reflect how I intended to live my life from then on. Like many of my post titles, it was borrowed from somewhere else: that has become a habit that has stayed with me, whenever I think I can get away with it – like with this post. Those ‘tangents’ I mentioned have taken me to a variety of places, but there has, as you will have noticed, been a particular focus on music. It has been such an integral part of my life since I was very little, and I couldn’t be without it: that’s why I love sharing it with you. Have you ever looked back at your very first post and compared what you said then with the way your blog has developed? A potentially revealing exercise – or possibly downright scary! Go on, take a look – I’d love to know your reaction to seeing yours again.
It would feel remiss of me, given what I have just said about music, not to include a little to mark my milestone. As the title for this piece is partly borrowed from a song, that seems a good place to start. There are several songs with the same title as this one, and many versions of it, but this is my favourite:
If anyone is disappointed that I didn’t choose The Proclaimers, all I can say is that you should know me better by now! This track was released in 1989, with an extra verse included in support of the victims of the massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and the iconic image of the man standing in front of the tank, which you can see in this video. I’ve posted a lot of music videos during the course of my 500 posts, but few have been as powerful as this one. This was on the Hooters’ fourth album, Zig Zag, which reached #115 in the US album chart. 500 Miles was released as a single, making #97 in the US. I loved the band and had all of their albums – I still do, in streaming form. I think the first version of this that I ever heard was the one by Peter, Paul and Mary, who provide backing vocals on this – a neat piece of symmetry. As a side note, the identity of Tank Man, as he became known, is still a mystery to this day. Time magazine named him one of their 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.
To compound the disappointment of Proclaimers fans, here’s another song which isn’t by that pair of nerds, but also has ‘500 miles’ in its lyrics, if not its title:
That was one of a whole series of songs that John Fogerty recorded last summer, accompanied by his children Kelsy, Shane and Tyler – and on this occasion by a few of their farm animals too. It is in stark contrast to the Hooters video, but that just goes to show how music can fit so many moods and situations. And who wouldn’t welcome some good cheer and sunshine on a dismal day like we in the UK are ‘enjoying’ today?
I wonder if I’ll reach 1,000 posts? I didn’t have any expectation that I’d get this far, so who knows? Do stay around for the ride, though, as there is plenty more msucucao* on the way 😊
*See What’s In A Word? for an explanation, if needed.