A Timeline of the 24 Hours After I Went Viral
I made my shed the top-rated restaurant in London on TripAdvisor. This is what happened afterwards.
The author on Australian breakfast show 'Weekend Sunrise', talking about his shed.
I'm a fairly simple creature. A typical day of mine goes something like this: wake up, turn the kettle on, have a shower, pour a lukewarm Lemsip and watch Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways until I get hungry or think of something to do.
Recently, however, I had a day that deviated from the norm. On Wednesday the 6th December, a story I wrote for VICE about transforming my shed into TripAdvisor’s number one restaurant went viral.
What followed was back-to-back TV appearances, no sleep and being called a "naughty boy" on Britain's biggest morning TV show. Here's a 24-hour timeline of that day.
11:00: I open the door of my shed and step onto the decking. The morning is mud-sullen, so I go back inside and dump myself into bed. My phone vibrates into my head. It’s finally happened. The piece I’ve spent the past seven months plotting – the piece every person in my life is sick of hearing about – has dropped.
11:08: I tweet the article, switch over to the other accounts I have and give it a couple of faves. That way, seven months = two faves, at least.
11:19: Whether it’s in my hand or on the desk, my phone gargles. It hasn’t stopped doing that. Fifteen minutes ago, I had 6,500 followers; I now have 6,600.
11:58: Twitter apparently changes my settings so I only get notifications from people who are verified. The guy who does the wine for Gordon Ramsey is lolling, and Rene Redzepi – owner of "four-time world's best restaurant" Noma – is into it too.
12:23: The Shed’s email account is bulging with tens of requests for dinner reservations. Funny, but there’s one that stops me cold. "Proud of you, really I am," it reads, signed off by Guardian food critic Jay Rayner. My scalp tingles.
12:49: First bit of negative feedback is in. A guy angrily messages me as he’d promised his wife a table at the Shed for their anniversary. I get it: my ruse has outed not only me as a pathological charlatan, but him too.
13:43: The first interview request is in. It’s somebody from METRO. They switch me onto a conference line. This switch, I’ll later realise, will add £20 to my phone bill.
14:31: Back at the shed, Grayson Perry has endorsed my non-existent restaurant; PJ Vogt, host of Reply All, has retweeted it; a Tory MP tweets how he’s discreetly enjoying it in Parliament. Then—
14:32: —The burner phone I bought for The Shed rings. "Hello, The Shed at Dulwich?" I answer, out of habit. There’s a moment of silence, a splutter of laughter, then they hang up. This is the first of the many prank calls I'll receive day and night for the next fortnight. A taste of my own medicine.
15:05: I've just given an interview to The Evening Standard, but they’re not happy with that. They’re insisting on coming over tomorrow to photograph my shed. I tell them no on the basis that I don't want them to.
16:52PM: "David Baddiel follows you"?
18:21: ITV News ring me and, down to their persistence and the patchy phone signal on the Overground train I'm on, I’m forced to get over my principles: I agree to let them come round my shed the following day.
18:39: Within minutes, the BBC call and convince me to do exactly the same.
19:20: My friend who lives in the house whose garden my shed is in calls me, a bit concerned. One of the customers who ate at the Shed and left thinking it was real has just shown up at my door, furious.
19:49: My phone rings. "You’re going on Good Morning Britain tomorrow," says VICE's PR manager, Emily. "Cab will be at yours for 5AM!"
21:08: Supposed to be at a stand-up show but keep popping in and out to speak with CBC (Canada’s BBC, essentially), NPR and Talksport
05:32: I wake up, heart thumping. The car has been waiting outside for 20 minutes. Fuck. Am I actually going to miss Good Morning Britain? I throw on what I was wearing yesterday and look in the mirror: I’ve got that kind of hungover look where it appears you have sawdust packed under your eyelids.
06:01: In makeup, they paint my prawn cracker complexion the colour of chicken.
06:30: I go on the air.
06:45: I’m in the back of a cab on an absolute high, my mum, great aunt and friends texting me, chatting to my driver about TripAdvisor. My phone rings and it gets even better – Paul Ross! He’s just watched me on TV and wants me on his TalkRadio show. The cab takes me there.
07:30: The interview is decent, and Paul’s co-host asks whether I’d be up for chatting with her. Turns out she’s from The Sun. "No," I say, "I’m a Liverpool fan." Paul Ross scrunches his face in my direction. "This is TalkRadio – you effectively just have, mate."
09:43: Have chatted with my mum and dad, who have convinced themselves I came across "very professional" on GMB. I rattle through some more radio interviews.
10:12: Have a load of Facebook friend requests from people who never spoke to me at high school.
11:21: ITV show up, flustered. The two camera crews awkwardly bend around one another to get the same shots of my rotten decking, the spilt paint and the eggs shells on the floor. Tl;dr: I live in a shit hole.
11:32: The Evening Standard has used a cartoon of my Shed to satirise Brexit.
13:12: ITV News are trying to set up a live broadcast, asking me questions, and I nod.The coming hours are a haze of phone interviews in which I only half make sense, no eating or sleep, cab rides. It’s hard to capture in words just how vacant I was. Good news the whole thing was captured live on Sky News at 1.