Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The secret origin of the Tearoom of Despair

It was exactly 10 years ago, and we were somewhere near the monastery on the pillars of Meteora, when I realised what my name was.

The lovely wife and I had just got married, and we celebrated by heading off around the world for six months. At this point, we were 30 days into a 46-day tour around Europe, and disaster had struck: I'd run out of things to read. The scenery around Europe was mindblowing, but a lot of the travel was along anonymous highways, with just grey walls and straight lines of trees to see out the window. We were on a tight schedule to get around the continent, so there were hours and hours on those dull roads, with nothing to do but sleep, drink or read. (Or all three.)

This was before the ubiquity of e-books, so almost everybody else on the tour had their own dogged paperbacks, and they'd all get handed around. I'd already burned through Robert Fisk's 1200-page History of Civilization in less than a week, and got through my Carl Hiaasen omnibus in two days, so was desperate to read anything, and there were no Enlish-language bookshops about. So I read the only Harry Potter book I've ever read, and even choked down a James Patterson novel. I got five books into Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen saga, and never actually finished the series, which isn't much of a problem, because I can't remember a single thing about any of those books.

What I do remember is this - staring out the window because there was nothing else to do, and deciding at some point that I needed to get a lot of the bullshit about comics and movies and other debris of pop culture out of my skull and into some sort of online journal, right about the time blogging became terminally uncool.

It was always going to be called the Tearoom of Despair, but I couldn't use my real name, because I couldn't bear the endless jokes about The Cure. I needed a fake name, and as we were traveling through the Greek countryside, and I saw these giant pieces of rock stabbing into the sky. And while I felt so fucking far from home, I knew that wherever I went, or whatever I did, I was always going to be Bob from Temuka.

It took another 18 months before I actually started publishing in the Tearoom, but that was where it really started, and I haven't stopped since.

This is the 1000th post at the Tearoom of Despair.

A thousand posts of ill-thought comments, and ridiculous opinions about the dumbest shit. A thousand posts of trying to convince the world that Love and Rockets is as good as it ever was, that Doctor Who really is the best TV show ever, and that Frank Miller still has something worthwhile to say. A thousand posts of bullshit, and half-arsed opinions, and desperate pleas for attention.

I've spent countless hours writing this out, and have posted every single thing with a 'fuck it, that'll do'. I still lie awake at night wondering about the next post, and have now racked up nearly 700,000 words on the dumbest subjects.

It's been going a lot longer than I thought it would last, but I'm hardly going to stop now. I feel like I'm still just getting started.

Still, real life is a right arse sometimes, and the Tearoom is in a semi-low content mode at the moment, and that will continue for a couple more weeks, with the help of The Single Page.

It doesn't mean I don't care. I still love you all. Here's to the next 1000 posts.


dghlee11 said...

Love your blog - been checking in regularly for the past five years or so.
Keep writing and posting, and I'll keep reading!

(BTW - "Love and Rockets" and "2000 AD" are two of the best things that have ever happened in comics.)

Unknown said...

Been following your blog for a couple of years, even going so far as to go backwards through all the older posts. Excellent writing about stuff close to my heart - comics and living life in the southern hemisphere (Oz for me). Here's to another 1000.

Jason bonine said...

I visit frequently, but don't have any comments to leave. Great pieces on Romero and Dillon. That one on the loss of the bookshop was particularly well done.

Anonymous said...

Always enjoy reading your stuff, Bob. As I said once before (a long time ago!), please don't think that you're writing into a vacuum, cos I'm sure there's a lot of people out here in cyberspace (or whatever "the kids" call it these days) who dig your words and opinions. Here's to the next ten years! :)

Dazzy Hitch.