Twitterversary the third

“Very little changes in human nature, and it is always easier to blame our gadgets than ourselves.”  Helen Lewis of The New Statesman, reviewing It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Hello and welcome to the start of my main emotive-anniversaries season, which runs from April to August. Have a drink, dear. Maybe keep some arsenic handy with it.

This week is, according to archives, my three-year anniversary of being a Twitter regular. Where Twitter’s concerned, I’m a strange combination of an early-adopter and a cynic. I actually very first signed up to it way back in 2007, when only geeks and journalism trainees (I was the latter) had heard of it, and promptly decided it was dull and useless. I started dipping my toe in gradually a year later, mainly for news, and snatches of relief from an increasingly unfeasible job (my boss there tried – resoundingly unsuccessfully – to have me disciplined for tweeting that I was tired after working overtime…). It still seemed a bit pointless; a circle-jerk for a handful of big-name journalists and actors. But I count three years ago as my real anniversary because that’s when I fully got the point and started using it all the time, both for work, and as a water-cooler replacement. By then I was fully self-employed and it had properly taken off and become close to essential for anyone in my field. To be quite honest, it’s brought me a ratio of about 50% friendship and 45% anxiety, to about 5% paid work. I mostly use my unnamed account (the one I first set up for a particular strand of my journalism, and to research an early version of my book) rather than my original, named one. I find Twitter’s frequent dominance by people of all stripes who like nothing more than a beano uncomfortable. Still, all said, it’s brilliant and I wouldn’t be without it for a second.

Twitter changed my life. Sadly not half as much as I wish it would, but still infinitely more than I could ever have imagined at first. It has taught me and enforced to me two very important things. Firstly, the capacity for hidden layers of significance and meaning in apparently-small actions: Like a retweet. Or a favourite. Or someone’s choice of avatar or bio, or their decision to change it at a particular time. Or their patterns of interaction with someone else. Or their reaction to a news story, which, despite being only 140 characters at most, reads as just that little more invested than the norm, suggesting it’s touched a raw nerve somewhere. It’s a fascinating exercise in intuition. Secondly, something I tended to forget for much of my teens and early 20s: that it’s actually possible people might like me in my own right, not as someone else’s friend, fangirl or unpaid PR. At its best, social media is a great leveller. You are your words on Twitter. (And really, my words are the bits of me you want: my arithmetic and navigational skills are not…).

As I’ve often said before, the three months or so between my ‘Twitterversary’ and my friend’s death is the last time I was consistently extremely happy and content. So, I’ve rummaged through my April to early-July 2011 tweets and put some up here. It’s an embellished and not-definitive record. I haven’t included petty everyday grumbles. And there are some significant nice things I didn’t mention in detail, or at all – either for necessary reasons, or just because I didn’t have the time at the time. Like the family bowling trip where I came from way behind to take the lead, then fell behind again (“I’m The Nick Clegg of ten-pin bowling,” I remember announcing). Or the outing to an unseasonably sunny Primrose Hill on Easter Saturday with a gang of friends –  including the late Tony (aka @daminicustard) – where I ordered ciabatta and a confused foreign waitress presented me with a block of butter inside a bowl of chilli  (“chilli butter“). Or a couple of weeks later, the dinner with my spontaneous tipsy rendition of “All the single potatoes…” to the tune of Beyonce’s Single Ladies. I wish I had tweeted all that. Never mind – there’s plenty else there for posterity.

Some context: In these tweets, I’m about to turn 27: six months younger than Amy Winehouse, who went just after my friend did. I’ve been a full-time freelance journalist since the start of the year and it’s going rather nicely thank you, evidenced by the fact I have money in my pocket and am going out/drinking in London quite a lot. The UK is enjoying a heatwave. There’s a Royal Wedding, which I largely sleep through, thanks to an interesting week prior. David Cameron is telling women in the House of Commons to “calm down, dear”, achieving the supernatural feat of making me feel sorry for Nadine Dorries. Andrew Marr and Ryan Giggs are in the news for reasons they’d rather not be. Elsewhere, the Arab Spring dominates the news, and the game’s up for Osama Bin Laden. My sense of humour is in its usual gutter spot.

By the way, for anyone wondering “How do you see all your old tweets?” you can download your whole Twitter archive onto your computer by logging onto Twitter in your web browser, selecting “Download Archive” from the Settings bit, then clicking the download link that’s emailed to you. Open the folder, click “index.htm” and it’ll load in your browser. Or you can use Topsy‘s tweet-search function. You can also use Topsy to read back through anyone else’s old tweets, should you desire or require.

Well, I don’t think they had eyes this gothy or roots this dark in the 20s, but other than that, this flapper costume is bang on #fancydress — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 16, 2011

For the curious, “Shake and Crawl” is a song by the House of Love. I’m the only 27 yr-old HofL fan I’ve ever met — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 17, 2011

Unnerving Dad Quotes #501 “I was with John Reid at the Berlin International Youth festival one year. International STD Festival, more like.” — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 19, 2011

@daminicustard Someone needs to prime me with an entire list of things that only make sense if you were a kid in the ’70s and early ’80s… — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 20, 2011

@daminicustard …although you’d think I’d been having age-inappopriate crushes for long enough now to have written it myself… — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 20, 2011

Midsomer Murders, 8pm: “Barnaby investigates a series of wedding-themed murders.” Glad someone in ITV scheduling has a sense of humour… — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 20, 2011

This is just like the last day of term at school, except instead of watching Blackadder and munching penny sweets I’m chasing payments — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 21, 2011

Mum, looking at pics from the first London Press Club event at its new home. “Gosh it looks smart, how did *you* get in?” (love you too, ma) — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 21, 2011

Happy news! Been shortlisted to guest-edit the culture page of a women’s mag (Pls remonstrate if I start tweeting abt cupcakes & botox…) — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 21, 2011

Oh I do love how everyone’s tweets are so emotional and philosophical late at night, it’s so reassuring — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 22, 2011

Lovely chat with mum’s friend. She’s dyslexic with a PhD, I’m dyspraxic & postgtad-qualified. Fascinating similarities in how we work /think — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 22, 2011

For the second time in my life, I’ve come across a dyspraxic person without specifically looking. Internet, you are amazing — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 22, 2011

BTW, guys, I promise I’m not your House-of-Love-fan ex from college incognito. I’m 27 – if you fancied me in the 80s, something’s very wrong — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 22, 2011

@daminicustard You have Ben and Jerrys in your house??!!! For me??!!! When did we even discuss ice cream preferences? I officially love you! — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 22, 2011

Right, off to London to see three of the best friends a slightly-bonkers lady could have. TTFN — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 23, 2011

@giraffeonastick I once offered Dominic West a Malteaser. He accepted, and asked for another — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 23, 2011

@daminicustard I wish they were still called Marathon bars.”Can I have a mouthful of your Marathon?” is even better — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 23, 2011

In bed half asleep with a travel memoir set in Russia just after the fall of Communism. Saturday nights don’t come much wilder than this — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 23, 2011

Happy Easter, one and all. Alone in garden with gadgets and a pile of books until the family reconvenes later, hopefully bringing chocolate — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 24, 2011

Haven’t seen the Wills n’Kate movie. Is it as bad as East German TV biopics of Diana in the early 90s, ie recognisably bad to an 8-yr-old? — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 24, 2011

I haven’t been further than London but this weekend has felt like a fortnight in Greece. Could really fancy some more. — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 25, 2011

Friend has just been sent home early from Jury service “because the Judge spilt a jug of water over his case notes.” — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 26, 2011

OK, who wants to talk about something that isn’t the Royal Wedding, Masterchef or Andrew Marr’s sex face? — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 26, 2011

“[His sexual technique]’s the same as his interview technique, I’d imagine. Keen but slightly offputting.” – Friend, on Andrew Marr — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 26, 2011

.@commentisfree are doing ‘best responses to being told to “Calm down dear.” ‘ Ooops, there goes my afternoon…. — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 27, 2011

Gender politics aside, resorting to 2006 Michael Winner catchphrases is a sign you really suck at arguing — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 27, 2011

London people: I’m in town for a meeting later on today. Anyone fancy a drink at close of play with a very sleepy girl??? Txt or DM — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 28, 2011

Got out of London early this am. Streets totally dead cept for a few flag wavers. Looked like aftermath of some sloane zombie apocalypse — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 29, 2011

Been asleep most of today. Apparently some famous dude got married, yes? — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 29, 2011

Love the role reversal in this place: I was off booze yesterday, my mum got twatted and woke up with a hangover — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 30, 2011

So tomorrow, I might do something that engages my brain. Wouldn’t bet on it though. — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) April 30, 2011

“Here comes trouble, open the gates wide.” Russian proverb, apparently. Figures.— shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 2, 2011

Oh my.— shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 2, 2011

Think this weekend has exhausted my brain’s extraordinary-event processing capacity several times over — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 2, 2011

If I drink more than a couple tonight, kindly kill me and fling me in Hell’s Priority Arrivals line behind Bin Laden and an ice-rink DJ — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 2, 2011

Have taught @lou_brailey some essential German for her impending move to Berlin. By ‘essential’, I mean one phrase — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 2, 2011

@TWJGrey At her request, how to buy cigarettes.— shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 2, 2011

@TWJGrey Kind of. That’s “have you got any?” rather than “can I have some?” At a counter you’d say: “Ich mochte [insert quantity/name] bitte — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 2, 2011

Heartily recommend Al Waha Lebanese restaurant in Westbourne Grove. Best lunch in ages (very sweet of my cousin to treat me, too) — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 4, 2011

“He was annoying at first because he was very Red, but he’s calmed down now.” Grandma’s verdict on Billy Bragg moving to her village #DearMe — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 6, 2011

I have discovered overwrought German guitar ballads. Reader, this cannot end well — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 11, 2011

Slightly dizzy at the fact that there is a UK Tori Amos gig happening that I don’t have tickets for. I’ve seen every London show since 2001 — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 12, 2011

OK, ignore previous tweet, I’M GOING TO SEE TORI *and* see a friend I haven’t seen in ages. YAY!!!! *bounces* #NoMoreCaffeineToday — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 12, 2011

Max Mosley is on Question Time tonight. Gags at the ready — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 12, 2011

Just saw a Google-ad saying: “Smoking harms unborns” and thought it said: “Smoking harms unicorns…” — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 12, 2011

Mother just wandered in tipsy on Prosecco and started doing yoga on my bed. Swear there was an episode of Ab Fab like this once — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 18, 2011

Off to the seaside to see one of the best pals a hackette could have — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 21, 2011

It’s been hard hating loud twats on trains since the lunch when @daminicustard & I played “shag marry kill” w/ Labour leadership candidates — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 21, 2011

RT Oh God, me too! Memories….! @lou_brailey: I used to have a poster of Ryan Giggs on my wall :’-( — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 22, 2011

Dying laughing at @HannahCostigan: “I always get Billy Bragg, Billy Idol and Billy Ocean confused.” — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 22, 2011

The excellent @fleetstreetfox on Stuff Happening In The World That’s A Bit More Newsworthy Than A Footballer’s Sex Life — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 24, 2011

Oh my life. Punching so far above my weight in every arena at the moment I need steroids. Or organisational skills… — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 27, 2011

So today, I went to a church for some peace and quiet and there was a maintenance man banging around. FFS, I can’t even relax IN A CHURCH. — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 27, 2011

Lovely evening. Spontaneously saw an intimate one-woman show about Vivien Leigh w/ Laurence Olivier’s son in attendance. Thanks @arcadiaego! — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 30, 2011

Just firmed up one of the big commissions that came in last week. Working on it this week & next. Fascinating story & def a career highlight — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) May 31, 2011

Mum: “So, have you missed me?” Me: “Yes. I think my Twitter followers have missed you too….” *look of alarm* — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 5, 2011

Memo to self: More water, less Twitter-and-half-price vino — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 5, 2011

Lovely interview. Interview subject broke the ice by gifting me some bangles. Much hilarity ensued as I tried to put them on — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 7, 2011

I’m in the classiest pub in Wycombe. Meaning there are paintings of nuns flashing their breasts, not customers — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 11, 2011

Memo to male drivers: Vitamin D exposure does not enact Grease Lightening-style transformation of your Vauxhall Astra into a chick magnet — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 14, 2011

You know you’re a freelancer when #501: You have hour-long phone conversations based on things you don’t know are going to happen yet — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 14, 2011

Am slaying words. 83 will be banished from this copy before I go to bed *dons proverbial Catwoman costume & licks lips malevolently* — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 16, 2011

Gosh. Feeling quite sleepy from prolonged birthday-themed food/drink/attention and actual birthday is still a day away — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 18, 2011

Walked from Westminster to Kensington, went to the Tate, ate in Soho, watched film. Feel zonked. Mum: “You’re getting old, join the club.” — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 19, 2011

From opening birthday presents and cards, popular themes emerge: alcohol, innuendo, feminism, journalism, music and cats…. — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 20, 2011

“New territory always fragile and insecure, but the only way to claim it is to go there.” – Someone. Apparently. — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 23, 2011

Dear Fern Britton: Yes the war in Libya is pricey, but then again men, women, boys and girls are being raped on Gaddafi’s orders. #bbcqt — fleetstreetfox (@fleetstreetfox) June 23, 2011

Asian teenager to bus driver as he got on: “Why you take so long, man? I used to be white!” — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 27, 2011

Welcome to Northwood high street. Or, as it’s also known, 1989 — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 27, 2011

Am in an empty park under a big shady tree in the sunshine. Temporary bliss on a stick — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 27, 2011

There are people whose job it is to be excited about Samantha Cameron’s furnishings? Really? — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 28, 2011

Me: “I’m just going for a quick constitutional.” Mum: “What’s that, a shit?” Me: “No Mum; a walk” #ForeignParent — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) June 28, 2011

Fun pub night w/ the Freelance Asylum y’day despite blood-sugar crisis. Chatted to some nostalgic old hacks abt House of Love & Wonder Stuff — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 1, 2011

Just been told my grandfather lots-of-times removed owned the land on which Wimbledon now stands. Crikey — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 1, 2011

Following a marathon girly phone gossip sesh with @laraloola, the world has once again been put to rights — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 1, 2011

Sod tree-planting in Canada, I’d like to see Will & Kate cutting logs with a double-handle saw (rural East German wedding custom…) — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 2, 2011

Apparently, expat Americans can get free meals in lots of places today. Fake American drawl, anybody? #4thofJuly — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 4, 2011

@daminicustard @giraffeonastick We need a national day for non-numpties — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 4, 2011

Newspaper/mag editors get away with the kinds of admin fails I couldn’t when I was in a far lowlier job #justsaying — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 4, 2011

I may print this piece out and kiss it with relief when it’s done…. #argh— shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 4, 2011

Seventeen years too late, I am in possession of a Take That annual (shush, it’s for professional purposes…) — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 4, 2011

Please, Mr Dull Celebrity, *please* let me find a half-interesting interview with you somewhere on the internet before I actually *weep*… — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 4, 2011

Best writing gig this week: Brit pal in Berlin has asked me to translate a note to amorous neighbours whose exertions are making kids cry — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 5, 2011

*sigh* When can I move to Germany? #newsnight — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 5, 2011

Trying to translate something into German. It’s like experiencing the vocabulary range a News of the World hack has to work with — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 5, 2011

Grandmother’s here. Usual silent prayer: “Do *not* look at my bookshelves” — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 6, 2011

Doesn’t Rebekah Brooks have handover notes for when she’s on holiday? ‘Please water my office plants, please check no-one breaks the law’ — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 6, 2011

Being forced to write reams of bland, relentlessly chipper copy whilst glum. The CIA’s interrogators are totally missing a trick here — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 7, 2011

I am going to south London for an evening. By my mother and grandmother’s anxiety, you’d think it was Kabul #BeenLivingBackOutHereTooLong — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 7, 2011

I was still doing A Levels the yr Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked. Sure many #notw hacks now losing jobs were too. Let’s not gloat — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 7, 2011

Something to warm the heart amid deadlines & shitstorms…mum & I are taking my very excited 90 yr-old grandma to see ‘Bridesmaids’ tonight — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 8, 2011

Grace Dent’s ‘100 things I love & hate about Twitter.’ So bang-on-the-nail I want to hide behind a chair — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 8, 2011

Text from ma: “Film is at 6. Been told there is a steamy sex scene & frequent use of the c-word. Hmm, do I want to sit next to granny…?” — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 8, 2011

Oooh, Nick Robinson has new glasses #BurningIssues — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 8, 2011

Are the guest selections on BBC1s Sunday morning current affairs shows meant as a punishment for not going to church? — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 10, 2011

Just finished reading this. It’s very good — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 10, 2011

Familiar Sinking Feelings #501: Arse, I should have done this earlier in the day — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 10, 2011

Me: “What’s the point in saying the bride looked stunning. Do they ever not?” Dad: “You were at your cousin’s first wedding weren’t you..?”— shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 11, 2011

Bit concerned re my great friend @daminicustard‘s whereabouts. If anyone has seen or heard from him can you please put my mind at rest? Ta — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 11, 2011

Malcom Tucker’s voicemail (dedicated to the elusive @daminicustard, who I hope is safe and well) — shakeandcrawl (@shakeandcrawl) July 12, 2011



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