(And I Feel Fine)
At the start of the year, I explained that I had been contemplating bringing this blog to an end, partly through fear of becoming a bore to my readers, and partly because I never wanted to reach the point where it was a burden to write each week.
Within a few hours of posting that entry, the response I received was generally very supportive of my decision to carry on blogging (which would surely be the most disappointing ‘Carry On’ film to date).
Since that entry, I have fortunately managed to avoid a drought in material (you may disagree, of course), and so I have swerved the potentially embarrassing situation of declaring my intention to carry on after entry #100, only to stop at #103 because I had nothing to write about.
However, despite the relief I felt in still having material, there was something else niggling away at me that I wasn’t entirely happy with, and I suddenly realised what it was – the name of the blog.
When I first starting writing a few years ago, I’ll admit the name ‘Sandbach Chatter’ was rather hastily settled upon, and I’ve not been comfortable with it for a while. For those of you who don’t know, the blog was originally based around the name ‘Sandbach Hatter’, which is the pseudonym I have adopted on Stockport County’s online forum, ‘County Heaven’ (‘The Hatters’ being County’s nickname).
The problem is, aside from one or two entries last year, my blog isn’t about Sandbach, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this might be deterring potential followers. As I saw it, people outside of Sandbach might avoid reading, believing the blog to be of no relevance to their lives. Conversely, some Sandbachians might hope it is about the market town in which we live, only to find themselves amid the sweary ramblings of an eternally grumpy man, as he hurtles toward a mid-life crisis.
Just imagine, a local historian spots a reference to a blog called ‘Sandbach Chatter’, and eagerly clicks on the link, only to discover a poem about the US Presidential Election, an account of one man’s meltdown whilst travelling to Newcastle, or a sarcastic story about an apocalyptic school run. He or she is hardly going to stick around for the following week’s instalment.
On the other hand, if people were under the impression that I had now published over one hundred blog entries about a small town in South Cheshire, they would be entitled to wonder what the hell I had found so interesting in Sandbach to write about. I mean, our town is interesting at times, and we certainly have our fair share of quirks, but 105 entries? Come on.
At the same time, I was growing increasingly concerned that potential followers via my Facebook page, might have also stumbled across groups such as ‘What’s Going On In Sandbach’, and mistakenly thought my blog was of a similar ilk. If so, they could legitimately question how I have managed dozens of entries about predominantly illiterate people, who are looking for either work, a reliable plumber, or their fucking cat. I’m not even joking, we must have the most careless cat owners in Britain, because at least two hundred rogue felines go missing in Sandbach every week. There are honestly so many lost cats in our town, I’m surprised we’re not tripping over the vicious little bastards in the street.
So, once the relatively easy decision of ditching ‘Sandbach Chatter’ was made, I was then faced with the task of choosing a new name for my blog. I wanted something that would represent what I write about in some way, to give potential readers an indication of what to expect, but I also felt there should be a pun, or play on words, involved (bearing in mind I try to do this with each week’s title).
Alas, everything I came up with had already been taken. It’s no exaggeration to say I have spent the last two weeks coming up with a new name every hour or so, only to be bitterly disappointed following a quick Google search. I suppose blogging is hardly new, and there are millions of people doing it, so the odds were always against me finding a uniquely comedic name.
I started off by considering recurring themes, and initially the concept of me being a Dad (which isn’t so much a concept, as a hard fact – bearing in mind I have now successfully procreated twice – but you get the idea), and worked my way through film titles containing the word ‘dead’. Sadly, all the best ones, such as ‘Dawn of the Dad’, ‘Night of the Living Dad’ and ‘Waking the Dad’ were already taken.
I then considered what else adequately sums up my blog, and it dawned on me that I am an inherently grumpy individual. Again ‘Stig of the Grump’ and ‘Forrest Grump’ have already been done. You can imagine my displeasure.
Taking that idea further, I admitted to myself that I often go beyond merely grumpy, and descend into a full-on rant. Having briefly flirted with ‘Rants With Me Tonight’ (which I quite liked, but mostly because Ollie came up with it), I genuinely thought I had it with ‘Rants in my Pants’, because surely no one gets as angry as I do whilst dressed solely in their underwear (in the privacy of my own home, you understand). However, sure enough, some ballbag has snaffled that for themselves too.
I started to wonder whether my blog was actually unique in the slightest (although, surely not many can claim to use the words ‘ballbag’ and ‘snaffle’ in the same sentence), but then I had a quiet word with myself (that word was ‘dipshit’), and I finally accepted that no one can ever be truly unique in the world of blogging. There are just too many of us to come up with something entirely original, so all I needed was to find a niche that I could share with a few others, then adopt my own take on it. I also made myself promise to never use the word ‘niche’ again.
Hopefully, over the last 100 entries or so, I have settled into a style of writing that I enjoy, and one that hopefully you folk like to read. And, if we’re both having fun, well that’s just fine by me. So, to return to my original quandary, all I needed now was a name. I realised, at this point, that I would need to steer clear of film and song titles, as they were perhaps too obvious, and instead focus on what best describes me.
Following a brainstorm, in which I scribbled down the words: ‘Middle-Aged’, ‘Angry’, ‘Grumpy’, ‘Rant’, ‘Dad’, ‘Blog’ and ‘Hobnobs’ (I was hungry and got distracted), I eventually arrived at my blog’s new name. I’d like to say it was a ‘lightbulb moment’, or a flash of inspiration, but, to be honest, I came up with an initial idea that I was moderately happy with, then tweaked a few words here and there (and there’s only five of them) until I finally settled on….. (imaginary drumroll)…..
‘Confessions of a Middle-Raged Dad’
Admittedly, it’s hardly going to set the blogging world on fire, and it’s not as punchy or as clever as some of the earlier ideas I had (which had already been taken), but I think it sums up what I am about, what my blog is about, and what potential readers can hopefully expect, if they delve into the dark recesses of my twisted mind.
And, best of all, no swine has already used it.
As ever, I enlisted the help of a good friend of mine, who we shall call Ant (because, well, that’s his name), for the artwork which will shortly accompany my Facebook page, and it’s fair to say he has done a great job, in a very short space of time.
Not only is the banner as catchy as syphilis, creative, and (hopefully) amusing, he has managed to take what was a comparatively normal photograph, and make me look like a bloody lunatic (my face was exactly the same in the original, but without the context of the large rubber chicken being thrust at me – not a euphemism – it really does look like I’m about be killed, or at the very least shit/sneezed on). Thanks, Ant, you’re a gent.
So, as of next week, this blog will be no more, and will be replaced by ‘Confessions of a Middle-Raged Dad’. I hope you continue to enjoy it, and if you like it enough to spread the word, either in the street, or via social media, well that would be just lovely.
Oh, and one last thing: If I happen to screw up the technological side of the switch-over, and accidentally delete all of my followers (and there is a very real risk I will do exactly that), please sign up again via the main WordPress homepage, follow or like the Facebook group, and track me down on Twitter. In fact, do all of them.
I’ve also been advised to join Instagram, Tinder and Grindr. I’m not entirely sure what any of those are, but I’m pretty certain nothing can possibly go wrong….
See you on the other side, folks. Thanks for reading.