At the end of last year I had an idea.
The idea was to try and write a new article on the site every day for the entire month of January.
I thought that might help to improve my writing and it would force me to find things to write about too.
Then I thought that the articles should be as close to one thousand words as possible because otherwise I could just write a sentence or two and tell myself I had achieved my goal.
Again with the rules.
In December I contacted James Cook, author of “Memory Songs: A Personal Journey Into the Music that Shaped the Nineties” and the lead singer with Britpop legends The Flamingoes. I had interviewed James about his book just before it was released and we had stayed in touch. He is a writer…I wanted to write. Seemed like a good person to turn to. I asked James if he thought it was a good idea to try and write something new every day and I asked him if I could pinch the title of his book for a series of articles I already had in mind about songs that had soundtracked certain moments in my life. As ever James was full of encouragement and gave his blessing to using the “Memory Songs” tag…and that was how I started things, with a series of articles on songs that were linked to certain memories.
By the end of January I had done it…I had written something every day.
In fact I had ended up with thirty-five new articles.
“I wonder if I could keep this up for…” I thought to myself.
But for how long.
Then I thought about a nice round number.
One hundred days.
Could I put something new up on the site every day for 100 days?
I doubted that I would be able to write one thousand words every day but I could certainly commit to finding something to say every day.
What I hadn’t really thought about, even after the efforts in January, was quite how big a commitment it would be to write for that length of time…with a full time job, a sort of social life, a family and, as the weeks went on, some difficulties with my health and well-being.
Today is the end of the one hundred days.
One hundred and eighteen articles.
Over one hundred and ten thousand words.
Every Blur single from the nineties reviewed.
Every song mentioned by Louise Wener in her memoir commented on.
All four discs in the “Lost Alternatives” compilation reviewed…about four thousand words, making it, I think, the most detailed review available.
Detailed pieces on “Modern Life is Rubbish” and “Leisure” by Blur, “Artificial Flavour” by Soda, “Work, Lovelife, Miscellaneous” by David Devant and His Spirit Wife, “Technique” by New Order, “Further” by Geneva, “A New Morning” and “Suede” by Suede, “Meat is Murder” by The Smiths and “Expecting to Fly” by The Bluetones.
There was a breakdown of the 50 best albums of the Britpop era as selected by Pitchfork with every single choice discussed and deconstructed.
Short essays on lad culture, racism at football, the importance of being kind and a rant on gig etiquette.
An attempt to “get” The Beatles with a track by track look at “Rubber Soul”.
Longer articles on Rick Astley, Dexys Midnight Runners and Depeche Mode.
There were some old interviews with cast members of “This Is England” in the shape of Vicky McClure, Jo Hartley and Johnny Harris as well as my review of “After Life“, the new show from Ricky Gervais.
I also wrote a series of shorter pieces called 100 Words On…which saw me write about something, or someone, with only one hundred words. Not easy for me.
And there was other stuff too…like the podcast which has seen me regularly chat with Mr Nick Amies about a whole host of Britpop related topics and saw me joined by Adam Devlin for our episode looking back on “Expecting to Fly”. Nick has been a huge support in the development of the podcast and has now become my friend too…ah, podcast friend.
I also launched a Patreon account this year and I have been astonished, and humbled, by how many people have been willing to support what I am doing here…to each of those people I want to say thank you.
There has been support in other ways too from a huge number of people…some of them personal heroes from the Britpop era who have sent encouraging messages across the 100 days and some of whom may yet pop up on the podcast or in interviews here. To them I say…thank you.
Very little of what I have done so far on the Mild Mannered Army would have happened without the support of the people at Star Shaped…despite having their own lives, despite running regular club nights and live events, despite organising a massive Britpop festival, they have offered me support, encouragement and friendship. Good people. Genuinely. Good people. Thank you.
Every single person who reads something I have written also helps…knowing that someone, somewhere, is reading makes a huge difference. I’m thankful to each of your for taking the time.
The 100 days is up.
What next I hear nobody ask?
Well…I am going to slow down and aim for (at least) one article a week for a while but I have a mad notion about putting up a new podcast episode every week for a period of time…
Thanks again to all of you.
p.s H & J, I love you!