Happy birthday to me

When I was told that the anti-HS2 campaign was looking for someone to write a regular blog on the impact that HS2 would have on our environment I should have been more wary. When it was suggested that, as I had given a presentation on the environmental impacts that HS2 would have on Warwickshire to our County Council, I would be the right person, I should have found some excuse. Unfortunately, I was not quick witted enough to snatch a plausible reason for not agreeing to being lumbered out of the air.

When I was working I was an engineer and in that capacity was used to writing technical specifications, procurement documents and reports, but a blog was something entirely different. I wasn’t sure then that I could write blogs, and I am not sure today either. However, I have enjoyed trying; even if this activity seems to have taken over my life somewhat.

My first blog was posted on 10th March 2011, exactly one year ago, so that is the reason for this commemorative blog, sandwiched between two of my regular postings every four days. HBTM!

It just so happens that the second anniversary of the original announcement that the Department for Transport intended HS2 to blight our lives falls one day later. So I have a double reason for reflection this weekend.

Of course blogs are, in essence, opinion pieces and I’m not short of opinions about HS2. However, I have tried to do more than just inflict my opinions on my readers; yes, I do manage more than one reader on most days! I have devoted a lot of time to researching my subject and hope that my blogs have become a knowledge resource for others who may be required to produce material on HS2. In addition to the facts and figures that I have quoted, most of my blogs contain links to the sources of the data that I have cited and further information.

I believe that knowledge of the facts is the key to defeating the HS2 proposals and that the pure facts will do this without any need for distortion or embellishment. Accordingly, unlike some pieces on HS2 that I have read (on both sides), I have never knowingly been “careless with”, or misrepresented, the facts in my blogs. I hope that whilst there is always the danger that someone will be able to find fault with the conclusions that I draw, they will never be able to show that these were based upon false or misleading information.

As is usual with self-celebratory pieces of this type, I thought that I would present a few facts and figures at this stage.

The blog that I posted on 8th March 2012 was number ninety-three. If you had suggested to me in March last year that I would still be going a whole year later and would have nearly one hundred blogs under my belt I would have said that you were mad. I’m not sure where it has all come from, other than that there is so much wrong with the HS2 proposal and it is so environmentally damaging. The more that one looks, the more that one finds and, hey presto, another blog is born.

I have penned (well typed actually) almost 75,000 words, which is getting on enough for a short novel. I was told that perceived wisdom is that a good blog should be between one hundred and five hundred words. I found that this was a bit limiting, but understand that this limit reflects the short attention span of the average cybercitizen. Rightly or wrongly, whilst I have always been aware of the need to be concise, I have aimed at readers who are above-average. Accordingly, I have made it my priority to cover the subject comprehensively rather than be slave to getting my message down to under five hundred words. Consequently my average blog length is around eight hundred words. The shortest that I have managed is 302 words and the longest is 1,444 – too long I know, mia maxima culpa – and only five blogs have sneaked in under the five hundred words barrier.

The subjects of my essays have been wide-ranging, and I must confess that I have on occasion strayed outside of the brief that the title HS2 and the environment implies. Exactly one third of blogs have been on the subject of noise, which will come as no surprise to any of my regular readers. Just about one-fifth of them have been on sustainability and the same number on political matters.

I have not courted popularity and, as you will see when I review visitor numbers, have been fairly successful in avoiding it. Generally my blogs have been pretty serious and, in some cases, really heavy going, but I make no excuses for that. I have however tried to be as entertaining as possible and, in one or two blogs, have, I accept sunk, almost to tabloid newspaper level.

Having claimed that I have not courted popularity, I have to confess that visitor numbers do become a bit of an obsession to a blogger – at least they have with me – and I find myself checking the statistics every day; alright, I usually check more than once a day!

My top five most popular blogs are: 1 “We don’t believe you” (posted 25 May 2011), 2 You weren’t supposed to read that (posted 26 Sep 2011), 3 Pass me the map (posted 30 Jun 2011), 4 Hold on, not so fast! (posted 23 Apr 2011) and, 5 More wisdom from the Warrington sage (posted 25 Aug 2011).

Over the year there have been over six thousand visits to my blogs, an average of about seventeen per day. My busiest day was in the week in January that the Transport Secretary made her Commons statement, when 130 visits were logged. Traffic can be somewhat erratic; recently I had sixty-seven visits one day followed by seven the next.

So how would I sum up my feelings about the way that my blogs have been received? Whilst more visitors would obviously be a greater encouragement, I feel that the numbers that I have achieved have justified the effort. My main disappointment is that my readers and I have failed to get a really lively and ongoing debate going through the “comments” facility, except for odd occasions.

At least for the moment, I shall continue to post a new blog every four days. There are still things that need to be said.


One response to this post.

  1. Peter
    HBTY, keep writing, always read if not comment. Don’t stop.


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