Entertainment

A Time Line of the 24 Hours After I Went Viral

I made my shed the top-rated restaurant in London on TripAdvisor. This is what happened afterward.
January 22, 2018, 9:50pm
The author on Australian breakfast show 'Weekend Sunrise,' talking about his shed

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

I'm a fairly simple creature. A typical day of mine goes something like this: wake up, turn the kettle on, take a shower, take some cold or flu medicine, 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, December 6, 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 time line of that day.

11:00 AM: I open the door of my shed and step onto the deck. The morning is mud-sullen, so I go back inside and dump myself into bed. My phone vibrates in 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 AM: 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 AM: 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.


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11:58 AM: 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 PM: 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 PM: 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.

1:43 PM: The first interview request is in. It’s somebody from METRO. They switch me onto a conference line. This switch, I’ll later realize, will add $20 to my phone bill.

2:31 PM: Back at the Shed, Grayson Perry has endorsed my nonexistent restaurant; PJ Vogt, host of Reply All, has retweeted it; a Tory MP tweets how he’s discreetly enjoying it in Parliament. Then—

2:32 PM: —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, and then they hang up. This is the first of the many prank calls I'll receive day and night for the next two weeks. A taste of my own medicine.

3:05 PM: I've just done an interview with people at 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.

4:52 PM: "David Baddiel follows you"?


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6:21 PM: ITV News calls me, and, down to the persistence and the patchy phone signal on the train I'm on, I’m forced to get over my principles: I agree to let a TV crew come around to my shed the following day.

6:39 PM: Within minutes, the BBC calls and convinces me to do exactly the same.

7:20 PM: 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.

7:49 PM: My phone rings. "You’re going on Good Morning Britain tomorrow," says VICE's PR manager, Emily. "Cab will be at your place around 5 AM!"

9:08 PM: I'm 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.

5:32 AM: 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.

6:01 AM: In makeup, they paint my prawn cracker complexion the color of chicken.

6:30 AM: I go on the air.

6:45 AM: I’m in the back of a cab on an absolute high, my mom, 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.

7:30 AM: The interview is decent, and Ross'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."

9:43 AM: I chat with my mom and dad, who have convinced themselves that I came across as "very professional" on GMB. I rattle through some more radio interviews.

10:12 AM: I have a load of Facebook friend requests from people who never spoke to me in high school.

11:21 AM: ITV shows 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 egg shells on the floor. I live in a shithole.

11:32 AM: The Evening Standard has used a cartoon of my shed to satirize Brexit.

1:12 PM: ITV News is 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, a long period of not eating or sleeping, and too many cab rides. It’s hard to capture in words just how vacant I was. Good news: Sky News captured the whole thing live at 4:45 PM.

Superstar.

Follow Oobah Butler on Twitter.

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