I went to see the comedian Richard Herring at the Alban Arena in St Albans with my sister last week and aside from being a very amusing evening it reminded me that he has kept up a daily blog for almost a decade. It's called Warming Up and I think he started it because he wanted to get into the habit of writing something every day so he had his brain nicely heated before sitting down to write a book.
There were a number of things in his stand-up routine that struck a chord with me, particularly as we're about to embark on a tour of our own to promote The Cycling Podcast's new book. He wrote in his own blog of being disappointed by the size of the audience in St Albans. It looked a decent crowd to me, although the Alban Arena is a big venue and if he’s anything like me I’m sure he noticed the empty seats before the expectant faces.
He dealt with the issue of receiving and dealing with complaints from the public about his work, something I have to do from time to time (incredible, but true). He also did a very funny bit about posting books to his customers and annoying the local postal workers by filling every pillar box within about a mile radius of his house with envelopes. Having spent a large chunk of December in my village post office picking up extremely frosty vibes from the staff, despite the fact I’d paid them hundreds and hundreds of pounds for postage, I identified with that and so it reassured me in a way. I think of Richard Herring with his quarter of a million Twitter followers and imagine he has a little army of workers behind him so to find out he does so much of the leg work himself made me feel a bit better about spending all that time before Christmas at the kitchen table with piles of books, envelopes and sticky labels.
Of course, while the idea of writing this blog is inspired by Richard Herring, keeping a diary, whether privately or publicly, is nothing new. I've always enjoyed reading diaries, whether they be by Tony Benn or Alan Bennett or someone else, and I’ve often written accounts of life covering the Tour de France, starting out with something called Tales From the Broomwagon for Cycling Weekly’s website during the 2006 and 2007 Tours, which then evolved into the Gourmet de France, which focused on the food I ate along the way but also offered a bit of insight into what happened on the road. That, in turn, has sort of led to The Cycling Podcast’s book because the central core of it are diaries from the three grand tours – the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España – with each of us (that's Richard Moore, Daniel Friebe, François Thomazeau and Fran Reyes) covering a week before handing the baton on.
So this blog is perhaps an extension of that. I have no idea at this stage what I’ll write about on a regular basis or whether it’ll be mostly professional or partly personal. I have no idea how long it’ll last but like everything I’m setting out with the best intentions knowing I will probably get distracted and switch to something else soon enough. But while I don’t have a book project on the go I thought it would be useful to keep my writing brain at least lukewarm.