30 April 2024

8 million readers:
but what does
8 million mean to
anyone, anywhere?

Greece welcomes 8 million visitors or tourists each year … the road to Pavlos beach in Platanias, near Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

This blog has reached the monumental landmark of 8 million hits. The 8 million mark was passed late this morning (30 April 2024), and like all milestone such as this, it has come as a delight.

After I began blogging, it took until July 2012 to reach 0.5 million hits. This figure rose to 1 million by September 2013; 1.5 million in June 2014; 2 million in June 2015; 2.5 million in November 2016; 3 million by October 2016; 3.5 million by September 2018; 4 million on 19 November 2019; 4.5 million on 18 June 2020; 5 million on 27 March 2021; 5.5 million on 28 October 2021; 6 million over a year on 1 July 2022; 6.5 million on 6 February 2023; 7 million about eight months ago (13 August 2023); 7.5 million about five months ago (29 November 2023); 8 million by late this morning.

This means that this blog continues to reach half a million readers in a four-to-seven month period, somewhere above 100,000 a month, up to 4,000 a day, and an average of over 800 hits for each post. In the past seven or eight months, these figures have been exceeded on occasions, with a record 23,234 hits on one single day (3 September), followed by 21,999 (4 September), 15,211 (7 September), 15,193 (6 September), 13,301 (11 December), 11,733 (9 December) 11,333 (5 September), 10,785 (28 November), and 10,091 (26 September). At times in recent months, there have been 8,000 to 10,000 hits a day, and so far there have been about over 122,000 hits this month (April 2024).

With this latest landmark figure of 8 million hits, I find myself asking: What do 8 million people look like? What would £8 million or €8 million buy? How vast is 8 million sq km? Indeed, what does 8 million of anything mean to the environment?

Having spent some time back in Greece last week and the week before, I am reminded that Greece welcomes 8 million visitors or tourists each year.

The number of people displaced by conflicts inside and outside Sudan has reached 8.2 million.

The cities of Nanjing and Wuhan in China and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam each has a population of over 8 million. Wuhan is the city where SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that later caused the COVID-19 pandemic, was first discovered on 31 December 2019 and the city was the location of the first lockdown of the pandemic in January 2020.

In the UK, a little over 1 in 10 of us will be living with an anxiety disorder at any one time – that’s over 8 million people.

More than 8 million people across the UK need to get debt advice, and over 12 million more are living on the edge, according to recent figures from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).

Smoking is responsible for about 8 million premature deaths a year. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year, including an estimated 1.3 million non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke.

Over 8 million people in the US have psoriasis, and nearly a third of them will develop psoriatic arthritis.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in the US. They are the second most common type of infection in the body and are the reason for more than 8 million visits to the doctor in the US each year.

The Co-op, the UK’s largest consumer co-operative, recently announced it is hoping to substantially increase the number of member-owners from 5 million to 8 million by 2030 – making a difference for members, communities, and the wider social issues they face.

YouTube TV passed 8 million subscribers in February, cementing its place as one of the top US pay-TV services, just seven years after its launch.

Brazil and Australia are a little over and a little under 8 million sq km, with Brazil at 8.46 million sq km and Australia at 7.68 million sq km.

The British Museum collection totals at least 8 million objects, and about 80,000 objects are on public display in the museum in Bloomsbury at any one time. This is 1% of the collection, however, the displays include many of the most important items. Many objects within the collection cannot be put on permanent display because of light sensitivity.

With up to 8 million sq ft of prime logistics facilities, the West Midlands Interchange, south of Penkridge in Staffordshire, is said to be the UK’s most significant rail served development.

8 million pieces of plastic pollution make their way into the ocean every day.

Lichfield District Council is budgeting to receive £8 million in council tax in 2024/2025 to help fund its spending of around £13 million on local services. The balance of £5 million is to be funded through business rates, other grants and New Homes Bonus.

And a new study into the impacts of AI suggests that 8 million jobs in the UK could be displaced.

Over the years, the half dozen most popular postings on this blog to date have been:

1, About me (1 May 2007), almost 39,000 hits.

2, ‘When all that’s left of me is love, give me away’ … a poem before Kaddish has gone viral (15 January 2020), over 31,000 hits.

3, The Transfiguration: finding meaning in icons and Orthodox spirituality (7 April 2010), over 30,000 hits.

4, Readings in Spirituality: the novelist as a writer in spirituality and theology (26 November 2009), over 16,600 hits.

5, A visit to Howth Castle and Environs (19 March 2012), over 16,000 hits.

6, Raising money at the book stall and walking the beaches of Portrane (1 August 2011), over 12,000 hits.

When I think of 8 million hits, I think of 8 million people, and today, once more, I am humble of heart rather than having a swollen head.

But this blog should never be about success measured in the number of hits. I shall repeat again a recent posting by my friend and colleague, the Revd David Messer, that has helped me to draw a comparison between blogging like this and some of my experiences in ministry:

‘I wish I had something worthwhile of my own to say, but at the moment, I haven’t the wherewithal … because rural ministry means living in a permanent state of failure – which is exhausting. So instead, here’s a wonderful quote from Giles Fraser, which gives me heart:

‘In a world where we semaphore our successes to each other at every possible opportunity, churches cannot be blamed for failing to live up to this austere and wonderful message. The worst of them judge their success in entirely worldly terms, by counting their followers.

‘Their websites show images of happy, uncomplicated people doing good improving stuff in the big community. But if I am right about the meaning of Christ’s passion, then a church is at its best when it fails, when it gives up on all the ecclesiastical glitter, when the weeds start to break through the floor, and when it shows others that failure is absolutely nothing of the sort.

‘This is the site of real triumph, the moment of success.

‘Failure is redeemed.


Now that I am in my 70s, I find myself agreeing with the Swedish actor Ingrid Bergman who she once said: ‘Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better!’

Moving from ideas such as these into prayer on this afternoon, I might pray in these words, although I do not know who wrote them:

‘May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live deep within your heart.

‘May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality and peace.

‘May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and change their pain into joy.

‘And may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.’

The British Museum collection totals at least 8 million objects, including puloined parts of the Parthenon frieze (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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