As those who know me will attest, I count things a lot. If it moves then I'll count it. Even if it doesn't move then I'll probably count it as well, just to be on the safe side. If you give me half a chance I can tell you exactly how many stairs I've just walked up, how many days/hours/weeks ago we last met, the chart position of that obscure 1980s single I just heard, how many minutes late my journey has been, exactly what change to expect in a shop and 427 other things. See, told you so. Some would say it's an unhealthy obsession, but I find that an exact number dropped into a conversation immediately gives you an air of authority and expertise as if you know precisely what you're talking about, even if you don't.
Anyway, to celebrate the fact that today's date is 01/02/03, I've decided to spend the month of February counting certain things that happen to me, and then to report back here on how the count is going. I've tried to pick ten things to count that should be vaguely interesting, even if only to me.
Count 1 (Blog visitors): Most of us who write blogs have an unhealthy interest in the number of visitors reading our site. This is because it's nice to know that someone actually reads what we write, and how much greater than zero that number is. I had 96 visitors yesterday and 1685 last month, which is better than the 17 per day and 647 per October I was getting back when I started. So, in February, I've decided to count the total number of visitors to this webpage. Current count: 25
Count 2: (Google searches): Many people appear to stumble upon this website by mistake after typing something completely unconnected into a search engine. All the words do appear here somewhere, but not usually in the order these visitors are expecting. Some of my favourite searches of recent days include "sheet music clive dunn grandad", "naughty geezer", "Danny Kendall grange hill" and "movie + ice skating + legwarmers". Hello to you if that's how you got here, and special thanks if you stayed. So, in February, I've decided to count the total number of search engine referrals to this webpage. Current count: 6
Count 3 (Blog content): It's a little-known fact that using Blogger to publish your blog is free, unless you post more than 100KB of data a month, in which case they charge you $3. According to Blogger that limit is "substantially more than the vast majority of bloggers publish". However last month I got perilously close to the maximum free limit, with 97KB of text and waffle on this site in January. I don't want to exceed my target in February, so this month I've decided to count the number of kilobytes of diamondgeezer. Current count: 8 (Ulp, bit high already)
Count 4 (Spam): There's always a sense of anticipation when that little envelope appears in the bottom right hand corner of your screen, announcing the arrival of new email. Could be good news, could be from a friend, could be interesting, could be anything. But how deflating to discover its just some unknown assailant sending you unwanted spam advertising something you don't want. I have no need of cheap inkjet cartridges, I don't want to buy a university diploma, neither do I believe the Nigerian government wants to give me money. I would click on the link saying 'I do not want your product now or on any of the 47 subsequent occasions you will send me this drivel', except that these links never work. However, I suspect I'm one of the lucky people who doesn't get too much e-rubbish - we'll see. So, in February, I've decided to count the number of spam emails I receive. Current count: 0
Count 5 (Nights out): One of the best things about moving to London is that there are so many places to go, and so many people to go places with. My social life has taken a distinct turn for the better since I moved here from Ipswich 500 days ago. Exciting things to do in a Suffolk village included whist drives, tea towel exhibitions (I kid you not) and maybe a meal down at the carvery. London can offer pubs, markets, parks, history, shopping, life and cab rides across Tower Bridge in the snow - and all that just so far today. So, in February, I've decided to count the number of nights I go out and be vaguely sociable. Equivalent total for Ipswich during February 2001 for comparison purposes: 3
Count 6 (Alcohol intake): I'm not a bitter person, nor a vodka addict. I hate the taste of whisky, and wine I can take or leave. I'm one of those bog-standard lager blokes for whom alcohol means a 275ml bottle of Becks. One advantage of bottled lager is that you drink approximately half as much liquid as other people around you drinking pints so you get to visit the pub toilets less often, plus I've discovered that bottled lager helps me to avoid chronic hiccuping attacks. So, in February, I've decided to count the number of bottles of Becks I drink. Current count: 2
Count 7 (Tea intake): As I've mentioned elsewhere, coffee is not for me. Give me a good cup of tea any day. It's a mystery why humans enjoy drinking dried leaves in boiling water, but any legitimate excuse to stop work for five minutes and stand by a brewing teabag will do me. So, in February, I've decided to count the number of cups of tea I drink. Current count: 3
Count 8 (Trains used): London has excellent public transport and you can get almost anywhere (except anywhere along the Central line) with a minimum of fuss by train. Many car owners can't put up with the thought of travelling in confined conditions surrounded by the great unwashed but I enjoy the chance to people-watch, as well as the opportunity to get quickly from A to B without paying the imminent Congestion Charge. So, in February, I've decided to count the number of trains I travel on. Current count: 1
Count 9 (Exercise taken): I never did see the point of going down the gym. You have to leave the comfort of your own home, display your puny body in the presence of steroid-enhanced physiques and then knacker yourself out for no readily-observable gains. It seems to me that you're far more likely to pull a muscle than to enlarge one. Instead my exercise regime involves walking up escalators. I'm that bloke on the left walking past you lumps of lard standing on the right, and I reckon it's all the exercise I need. So, in February, I've decided to count the number of escalators I walk up. Current count: 2
Count 10 (Mystery count): I'm not going to tell you what this is, but I'm counting it all the same. Current count: 0