TWITTERING AMONG FIELDS OF RAPE

Rape flowers

I am what is known as one of life’s “flitters”. Or, as my mum used to say, “jack of all trades, master of absolutely nothing.” Or just downright lazy. When the going gets tough, I’m first at the exit.

If I can’t master something pretty much instantly, or if I sense that continuing involves a degree of effort and pain, then I will usually find some excuse or other to abandon ship.

This flaky approach to “knuckling down” explains my inability to speak any Italian beyond ‘ciao bella’ and ‘il mio asino a guasto’; or to have got beyond mastering a shaky rendition of “Hong Kong Garden” on any of the five instruments I’ve attempted to learn. This includes recorder.

If something does manage to grab my attention for more than a nanosecond, I do tend to embrace it rather too wholeheartedly – and inevitably run out of steam long before the finish line.

This loving embrace quickly turns to indifference and ultimately hatred – ergo, my short lived love affairs with wild camping, house renovation, growing vegetables, running (currently rekindled), having a dog, blogging (still at early lust stage) and Iain M. Banks sci fi novels (don’t ask).

Imagine my delight then when I finally got round to activating a Twitter account last week. I thought it was going to be hard for a Luddite such as I to master, but I found it incredibly easy. And what a buzz!

Some of my favourite media writers, comedians and indie pop stars are regular Tweeters – and now I too could join the armies of followers hanging on their every word.

I am now following 67 people – pretty much all of them minor celebrities, indie pop stars, media types, comedians and a couple of politicians, and almost all of them London-based. Most of the people I follow seem to know each other and appear to watch an insane amount of telly.

In return I am being followed by 11 people – these include one friend who never uses it, a couple of record labels who want to promote their artists, and weird people from Japan who have discovered me through random generators.

I have fallen out with my husband, who got so sick of trying to get my head out of my phone or computer that he threatened to divorce me (by text, no less – he claims he tried to tell me to my face but I was too busy laughing at the latest witticism from @gracedent). The kids have asked if there’s any chance they can have some tea tonight “or will you be too busy again?”

I’ve had three direct “contacts” – where I’ve engaged in a conversation of sorts with people I am following. For the record these were with @campbellclaret (former Labour spindoctor Alistair Campbell) @tracey_thorn (one half of Everything But the Girl, who provided the soundtrack to my life through much of the 80s and early 90s) and @martin_carr (former leadman in 90s indie pop band Boo Radleys, now solo, making luscious music).

I have attempted to engage with a few other people by sending witty retorts to comments they have posted, only to be IGNORED. (I mean you, Stephen Fry, Boy George, various comedians.)

And that’s the unnerving reality of Twitter. It is essentially a small nucleus of celebrities, pop stars and media movers and shakers, each with thousands upon thousands of followers, being pursued avidly by the rest of the Twitter community. We circle around them, desperately tweeting undying love, jokes, or trying, like me, to be aloof & witty and so demonstrate that I am somehow ONE OF THEM.

My tweets so far include the following:

“Furry Vengeance = rubbish movie of the year. Nasty developer v nature shtick. HILARIOUS. Kids seem happy. They r easily pleased.”

“Is it too early to start on the vodka?The kids won’t notice, I have drugged them with pineapple upsidedown cake & Wipeout.”

And, in response to Alistair Campbell revealing that his last thought before being anaesthetised before an operation was of Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams:  @campbellclaret Thought u were meant to think of yr nearest&dearest before going under. Oh, right. You poor man.

I’m also following Ed and David Milliband (didn’t want to show favouritism at this stage) and have signed up to @nickclegg and @downingstreet by way of political balance.

Twitter is a stalker’s dream come true – an open window with the curtains flung open, and a great way to boost your name dropping potential.

It can also be a force for good. The most followed celebrities regularly post up appeals or direct followers to news reports or websites to highlight human rights abuses, missing people or worthy causes.

Twitter has exposed ills and raised awareness of injustices – for example, an anti-BP ad which had been rejected by the Financial Times yesterday was tweeted and facebooked across the world within minutes.

Record companies, bands, book sellers, photographers and the like use Twitter to reach their fans direct, offering followers the chance to buy records, books, concert tickets and so on first. Only last week Lucy Mangan, a Guardian columnist and author, offered to post a copy of her new book direct to the first person to tweet her back.

It can also, I am told, be a great way to link up with like minded people locally, especially if you have a special interest or hobby. This I have failed to do so far, despite searching by location – so if there are any Kidderminster/Worcestershire based tweeters out there who want a new friend to follow, tweet me! @janemomma

Then again, you might not want to bother – for after a full on week I fear I am out of lust with Twitter already. It’s like shouting into a black hole. Nobody can hear you. I will be advised, I’m sure, that I need to follow more and more people, and so encourage more people to follow me, to become a real part of the community, but I already feel my indifference rising.

You know that feeling that life is short…well, I’m beginning to have that thought whenever I consider checking my Twitter account or clicking on the Tweetdeck app on my phone. Life probably is indeed too short to be twittering it away with people I don’t know and who don’t care about me. Just think, I could instead be on the phone or even spending actual time with people who actually matter to me. But then again, they wouldn’t be able to tell me what Al Murray had for lunch, nor where was the best cafe to eat in if you happen to be in Sloane Square. Mmm. It’s a tough call.

Anyway, in between Twittering on about nothing much to nobody, I also picked up my camera again. My photography had reached that stage of indifference, mainly because I had come to that moment where I felt I had to either give myself over to it completely or back off.

My gut instinct, as you can guess, was to back off, retire and give up on it. After all, life is short, etc, etc, and maybe I didn’t have the time to dedicate to it, nor the skill to make it worthwhile. It will certainly not pay any bills.

But then I realised I missed it – so I slung the camera in my car when I went to drop my son off at the in-laws for the day. On the way there I couldn’t help but notice the stunning yellow fields of rape dotted among the green and brown between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.

So on the way back I pulled into a country lane and spent a happy hour walking around a farmer’s field, before heading off and stopping again at a field where I could not only capture more rapeseed scenes but also photograph my son’s favourite tree – the lightning tree – so called for obvious reasons.

It cheered me no end when I got round to sorting through them and putting them on the computer yesterday. I hope they make you feel sunny and warm too! Photography – my current favourite waste of time. Beats twittering hands down.

Field of rape, near Bridgnorth

Field of Rape, near Kidderminster

Oscar's lightning tree by a field of rape, near Dudmaston Hall

Rape flower in field

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  1. Damn it Jane you beat me to it… Took some very similar photos last weekend. Pics are lovely by the way! By the time you read this I will be following you on Twitter… I too am in its thrall and I too had a little heartjump when Tracey Thorn LOL’d to one of my jokes. Also had meaningful ‘contact’ with David Gedge and Darren Hayman (of Hefner fame). I think the trick is to choose your heroes wisely…

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