diamond geezer

 Monday, July 16, 2018

The biannual Bedford River Festival took place over the weekend.

Dear diamond geezer,

Oh for heaven's sake!

We're not interested. Surely you can tell we're not interested. Nobody wants to hear about what you got up to in Bedford, indeed nobody wants to hear about Bedford full stop. Almost none of your readers live there, and those that do probably went, so who's your audience here?

Like most of us, I started reading your blog because it was about London. Not entirely about London, but mostly, and often embracing the quirkier side of life. But recently you've been edging increasingly out of the capital and travelling elsewhere, and quite frankly it's not as relevant as it used to be.

Everyone loves London, even parts they've never visited, because London is a world class city of international renown. The Tower, the Palace, the South Bank, all these are grist to the London mill, and any post about a Royal Park resonates with us all. But you often went that one step further - a backstreet in Battersea, a station in Ealing, a milepost in Penge - and the idiosyncratic side of town has always appealed.

Admittedly even your London stuff has been getting more irrelevant over the last few months, to the detriment of your core readership. Nobody's especially excited when you reach out as far as Romford, even for a lost river, and only you know why you thought West Harrow would get our juices flowing. But at least they're still inside the capital, which is more than can be said for Hastings, or Basildon, or Milton Bloody Keynes, which for some reason you subjected us to for two long days.

In the last week you haven't even bothered to blog about London at all. We've had a photo from the Chess Valley, five seemingly endless days droning on about Paris, and now here you are wasting your time in Bedford. Please stop all this messing around outside the capital, because it's of no interest to your readers. Please get back to writing about life in Islington, Greenwich and the other boroughs, which is the content you deliver best.

Also, you know we're all here for the public transport posts, don't you? We put up with the country walks and the museum reviews, but they're not why we come back. When we log on at seven in the morning we're hoping for a lesser-known tube peculiarity, or a swipe at TfL, or a bus stop update. You can imagine how our hearts sink if we discover you've been to a castle in Sussex, or spent the weekend in Cornwall, as if you have no interest in what we want to read at all.

We want something we actually understand to get our teeth into, and engage with, rather than a parade of locations we've never seen. Most of us have an opinion on suburban branch lines, tram ridership and bus route anomalies. But if you've gone and written about somewhere obscure that isn't even London, only a handful of readers get the chance to chip in and say "wow, I was born there, let me tell you about a local building", and the rest of us merely roll our eyes and move on.

For example, you've just been to Bedford so you must have travelled on the first day of the emergency Thameslink timetable. I have no doubt that your target audience would have found this a particularly engaging topic, and commented at length. So why couldn't you have written about that, rather than droning on about dragonboat racing, burger van options, tattooed dads and the minutiae of the one-way footbridge operation?

I understand you used to live in Bedford, so may be attached to the place. But thank goodness you left, because the thought of a blog relentlessly focused on a tedious county town doesn't bear thinking about. None of us want to hear about the renovation of the Harpur Centre, the state of the grass in Russell Park and the latest insignificant exhibition in the Higgins Museum. Also, there's already an established blog about the railways in Bedford, so that niche is taken.

From what you've written, it seems the most interesting thing about Bedford is a riverside festival whose highlights are a procession of cabin cruisers, a lot of unexciting street food and a lacklustre 12 minute Carnival Parade, and which only happens every two years. Incidentally, the correct word for "every two years" is biennial, not biannual, but that's exactly the kind of careless factual slip we've come to expect from your increasingly irrelevant blog.

Pull yourself together and spend some time in actual London for a change, rather than heading off on these pointless peripheral safaris. We want to hear more about places we've actually heard of, and sites we might potentially visit, and transport infrastructure we potentially know something about. Stop opening our eyes to this provincial tedium, because we're just not interested.

Kind regards

A Reader

Let's hope the weather's as good the next time the River Festival comes to town in 2020.

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