This month I celebrate five years of blogging. This is my 1,746th post covering news and politics, women’s issues and the environment, as well as my special causes, including missing people and hemophiliacs; my charity, Headway Cambridgeshire; my work with Press, PR and social media; and my special interests, walking with the Ramblers and Toastmasters.
It all started when I met Cambridge entrepreneur and geek Geoff Jones at Cambridge Toastmasters in February 2006. Geoff had held the first social media conference ever in the UK the previous year and at the end of our meeting he offered to set me up with a blog. Up until then, the only blog I had read was Iain Dale’s which recounted his campaign as a Conservative parliamentary candidate in North Norfolk; I was Conservative Eastern region press officer at the time and worked closely with our parliamentary candidates. Geoff snapped this picture of me holding a freshly printed copy of Robert Scoble’s Naked Conversation which he had recommended and taught me how to blog correctly, and this became my first recognisable blog pic.
I had no idea what to write about when I started, but I soon found my political edge and Iain started promoting my posts. I was something of a rarity at the time and was regaled as the first Conservative woman blogger. This led to me making my TV debut on BBC News 24, being filmed for the Andrew Marr Politics Show alongside Harriet Harman and Lynne Featherstone, and being praised by Iain on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour who kindly said, “Ellee is a calm reasoned voice in a blogosphere more used to ranters. She stands out as a beacon of what good blogging is all about.” I consider it a badge of honour that my blog is banned in China!
As a result of my blog I have been invited to meet Al Gore in Cambridge and Sir Alex Ferguson almost sat next to me! I was invited to join Boris Johnson for lunch in his London mayoral campaign, and I had a curry in Trumpington with former gangster Ronnie Knight, who was many years ago married to Barbara Windsor.
Here are a few of my memorable highlights:
My post with most comments: 60 comments on the subject on the cost of divorce. It must have struck a raw nerve!
My most linguistically challenged post was written in Russian, my message to President Putin following the death of Alexander Litvinenko. Please do read some of the comments from the link if you have a moment and you will understand why it was such fun hearing from the Russian bloggers, albeit on a tragic story.
My biggest regret is not breaking the news about porn film maker Anna Arrowsmith being selected as a Lib Dem candidate in the 2010 general election as I was researching a book on women politicians at the time; it ended up being front page news on every paper in the country a week after I met her. I later wrote about meeting her in the House of Lords where she had excitedly told us all her news – and it remains the post which I have had most hits on, almost 1,200.
Every post I have written about missing people is a personal tragedy of huge dimensions and I get dozens of hits on them every day. They are life’s unsolved mysteries which cause untold heartache and grief. I’ve had calls from researchers on the Lorraine Kelly show too when they highlight some of the cases. I hope they follow up on my latest post about Carole Day, the wife of a British judge who vanished in the Philippines five months ago. The search continues.
I have also campaigned for tragic hemophiliac sufferers whose lives were devastated after being infected with contaminated blood during routine hospital treatment. I will continue to do so.
There is one particular issue which led to complete strangers calling me at home to share their sob story, and that relates to deputies appointed by the Court of Protection. There is such a strong sense of outrage felt by many of these families who feel they have been treated unfairly by the courts and are losing considerable amounts of money as a result, as well as having their family life ruined. Has anyone in power done anything about this? I remember discussing it with Conservative parliamentary candidates last year who said they would look into it if elected.
I’ve experienced the nastiness and lies of cyber bullies for supporting views I agreed with expressed by my political allies. Fortunately, they pale into insignificance next to the good guys in cyberland. They didn’t scare me off.
To give you an example of the huge variety of topics I write about, the most popular posts which people have been reading today are the story of missing Italian game show hostess Ylenia Carris, Lord Kalms following up my Tech Guys complaint (and, judging by the comments which have been added since, the complaints are still coming in), controversy over the sale of woodland, snowdrops at Anglesey Abbey, and the Welsh referendum.
I cannot begin to imagine how many hours I have spent writing these posts, and what else could have been done with that time. Certainly my clarinet lessons have been neglected, my garden is not as loved, I’ve burnt more than a few dinners as I obsess about responding to comments and been accused by an impatient young son that I loved my blog more than him as he waited impatiently in the car for me to drive him to football training, waiting for me to press off switch on my computer.
While blogging has helped bring me new work leads, it is not good for my complexion or waistline, and it will never become a substitute for human interaction because I am a social animal in the real sense, and my computer will never take the place of that! 🙂