At the last count I had nine followers.
Take that Stephen Fry! In your face Lady Gaga! Oh, I admit that your number of followers, at 4,800,000 and 30,000,000 respectively, may make my select band of compatriots seem somewhat minimalistic but guys, I’m going for quality not quantity. And, anyway, how many followers does anyone really need?
But before I tackle that there is an admission that I need to make. And it’s this. I think that one of my followers is actually me. I realise that sounds a bit stupid, but I put it down to not being a ‘digital native’. I did not grow up in an age when a computer was a household appliance as everyday, and as disposable, as a toaster or a kettle.
In the days of my youth computers were very much the kind of thing that ex-Spitfire pilot Raymond Baxter would occasionally talk about on Tomorrow’s World. On that TV show his reassuringly posh, yet oddly modulated, voice would tell us that in the not too distant future we would all have computers in the home that would do things like allow us to control our central heating from our desks at our offices.
I couldn’t wait. Obviously I’d have to finish school first and get a job that involved sitting at a desk in an office. Oh and we’d have to get central heating too. But, when I’d sorted all that out, a life of luxury with central heating I could control while I sat at my desk at work, doing whatever people did when they sat at their desk at work ( I’ll have to get back to you on that one) would surely be mine.
And, yes, all this did sound excitingly futuristic. And it was excitingly futuristic. Because the world I grew up in had only three television channels. And whether you should buy a black and white or a colour television was an actual decision.
The other place you could see computers was on wobbly-walled science fiction shows. Star Trek had them. Lost In Space had them. Space 1999 had them. (For the uninitiated, Space 1999 was a TV show where people lived on a colony on the moon and wore onesies, in the impossible to imagine future time of 1999. As it turned out, things didn’t really pan out like that in the actual 1999. Indeed, for me, even Prince’s seemingly easier to achieve invocation to ‘party like it’s 1999’ proved to be somewhat of a bridge too far. Millenium Eve found me belatedly deciding to go down to the banks of the Thames to watch the fireworks only to discover that having left it so late the nearest I could get, on account of all the revellers, was so far awy from the river, and so surrounded by tall buildings, that while I could hear the fireworks that heralded the next one thousand years of human history, I couldn’t actually see them. Mind you, in retrospect, that is a pretty good metaphor for how I’ve found most of ‘The New Millenium’.) And Blake’s Seven had them. But Blake’s Seven also had a cropped haired villainess with mean eyes who, if I’m honest, seemed to allude to a future far more exciting than one involving computers and, again in retrospect, explains quite a lot about some really important bad relationship decisions I would subsequently take in my life.
There was, of course, one other place to see computers. And to see what computers could actually do. That was in the television coverage of the Apollo Space Programme. Mission Control Cape Caneveral was, in my opinion, the place that changed the world. And it changed the world not because of what was done there, but because of what it inspired. A generation of protogeeklets saw the impossible technological glamour and excitement of the banks of computers that controlled the mission of putting a man on the moon and decided that this wasn’t just the future, it was their future. And when they grew up they built the computers, wrote the software, and founded the companies that changed the world.
Back in our house, however, things were a lot more prosaic. We got a TV with a remote control and that seemed to be quite enough high tech stuff for us.
So, like I was saying, I was not, and am not, a digital native. Hence, when setting up my blog, and trying to check out what the thing would look like, I clicked on a clicky space that somewhat surprisingly sent me the message ‘you are now a follower of fiftyshedsofgraham’ .
I mean, is it even possible to follow yourself? Surely that would involve endlessly turning round in circles, like a dog chasing its tail, and not getting anywhere?
Oh, hold on a minute, when I put it down in black and white like that, it sounds about right. Maybe I should settle on that as a description of what the blog is about. Or maybe it’s a description not of what the blog is about, but of what the process of blogging is all about.
But that sounds a bit deep. Time to paddle back towards the shallows.
My theory about followers is this:
You only need twelve followers.
Well, that’s how many Jesus had. And he didn’t do too bad in the whole ‘changing the world’ mullarkey.
Twelve followers, Stephen Fry! Twelve followers, Lady Gaga! And the man changed the world! Both of you have millions of followers each and probably the best you can hope for is a book at the top of the bestsellers list, or a worldwide number one hit but even that might be tricky L.G. because, and let’s be honest here, your latest tracks aren’t anywhere near as good as your early breakthrough hits even if you do promote them in a video where you wear a wedding dress made of live babies and get married to an ocelot.
Mind you Jesus was, or wasn’t, the Son Of God, which may, or may not, have given him a bit of an advantage.
But then again there’s the case of Fidel Castro.
Back in November 1956 Fidel Castro set off from Mexico in a somewhat battered boat called Granma, crammed with 80 prospective revolutionaries, for the island of Cuba. Cuba at the time was run by a chap called Batista who was either a bit of a dictator (if you were an ordinary Cuban), or a jolly good thing ( if you were a rich landowner or one of the American companies that exploited Cuba’s resources).
Unfortunately, due to it being so crammed with people, the boat took way too long to reach its destination. Even more unfortunately, when the sea battered rebels eventually made it ashore they were met by Batista’s forces who had got wind of their arrival.
The firefight that ensued was brutal. Most of Castro’s expeditionary force was either killed or captured. When he eventually regrouped in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra Castro’s band of brothers was down to twelve men.
But two years and two months later these twelve men had lead an uprising that had ousted Batista, defeated government forces estimated to be between thirty and forty thousand strong, and allowed
Fidel, with Che Guevera at his side, to drive in triumph into a jubilant Havana.
So, taking both Jesus and Fidel as a guide – now that’s a phrase that hasn’t often been typed – twelve followers is all you really need to get things done.
And I’ve got nine. Or eight if you don’t count me. So I only need four more.
When I do reach the magic number of twelve followers I’ll let you know what the plan is. Obviously, at the moment, the plan is still being formulated. But, as I’ve explained, when it comes to what you can achieve with twelve followers the bar has been set very high.
We’ve either got to start a religion, or overthrow a government.
And if any of you reading this could recruit a female follower with cropped hair and mean eyes, though I know deep down it would end badly, I would be grateful.