Tim Koch writes:
The ‘Hear The Boat Sing’ 5th Anniversary Lunch was held at the Coat and Badge pub, a short walk from the Putney Embankment, on Sunday, 16 March. A small but select group enjoyed roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and the company of like-minded people. It was a relaxed occasion but there was a brief period of formality when we drank a toast to blogmaster Göran and his wife Ellen, the two people responsible for the existence of HTBS. I then shared the following thoughts with those present.
On 12th March 2009, the very mixed blessing that is the Internet, already a forum for the mad and the bad, overcrowded with videos of wacky cats and friendly ladies (sometimes together, sometimes separately) gained a new eccentricity – a blog dedicated to the history of rowing. Göran Buckhorn’s first post started:
“Against better judgement I have become a blogger. If you would have told me a couple of months ago that I would start a blog, I would have called you insane… But things can change in life. After my contract as boating coordinator…. came to an end, and with that, my responsibility to write and edit the club’s newsletter, I was without a continuing forum to write about rowing and its rich history”.
The post ended:
‘”So, when I had not been writing for a week or two, and got rather grumpy, my dear wife, who is a blogger par excellence, gave me the idea that I would maybe like to start a blog on rowing history, and well, here I am blogging away, although, I should know better…”
Five years, 1,540 posts, 265,000 visits and 809,000 page views later – here we are. ‘Hear The Boat Sing’ has been read from Albania to Zambia (and all countries in-between). It has a loyal following, though, due to the nature of the Internet, I suppose we never know how many ‘regulars’ we actually have. Occasionally one of them will ‘break cover’ to say how much they enjoy HTBS. This is always a pleasing experience as sometimes, writing late into the night, one wonders ‘is there anyone out there actually reading this stuff?’ I must confess though, even if no one was reading it, I think we would go on writing it.
Over the past five years the blog has gained a ‘respectability’ in the rarified world that it operates in. It is unofficially recognised by such bodies as the Boat Race and the River and Rowing Museum. If you look for some aspect of rowing history via a search engine, possibly a majority of the usable results will be from ‘Hear The Boat Sing’.
In its subject, HTBS has two great advantages. Firstly, rowing has a rich and deep history, much of it waiting to be uncovered. Secondly, because it is a ‘minority sport’ (ironically with few minorities) it is very accessible. If we wanted to write about British soccer or American football we would not be able to talk to the stars or mix with the super teams as we can do with the sport of rowing.
On the left, closest to the camera, Liz, then Chris Dodd and on the end is Molly Bushnell. On the right, Colin Cracknell and Sue Bushnell. Absent, Tim Koch and Jonny Ambrose.
As you all probably realise, Göran’s enthusiasm shows no sign of tiring. We contributors write when something inspires us but he must constantly find the two or three posts a week that a credible blog should have. Most bloggers find this easy at first but few can keep going for anything like five years.
As those of you who have met him will know, Göran is a delightful man, a ‘gentleman of the old school’. It is appropriate that I use that antiquated English phrase as he is a committed Anglophile. Very early into our correspondence, I stopped explaining particularly British terms that I thought a Swede living in the United States may have trouble with. I should have realised that someone who is a fan of P.G. Wodehouse would not need my help (in fact his English is better than mine).
We were joined by Bert Bushnell’s daughter, Sue, and granddaughter, Molly. This was Molly’s tribute to her grandfather.
We also have to give credit to Mrs. Buckhorn. As already indicated, Ellen was not only the original inspiration for starting the blog, she is also the ‘Hear The Boat Sing IT Department’. Without her, HTBS would be written on parchment and nailed to a tree.
Over the years the blog has developed a style of its own and has gained a small group of regular contributors plus the occasional guest writer. Sometimes a post will have only a tenuous link with rowing but, as long as it is interesting, this is fine. HTBS is rather like Henley Royal Regatta in that it is a private party which you are welcome to join – providing you embrace its eccentricities.
Here’s to the next five years.