I AM not normally lost for words. For three decades, I’ve lived by them; lived off them, in fact.
If it weren’t for words, I’d either be destitute or a woman on a cheese and bacon counter, the latter being the destiny my mother warned me would be mine if I didn’t work hard at school. A housewife who had been everything from barmaid to part-time shop worker in a bid to keep us in Grattans and Freeman, Hardy & Willis, she wanted better for her girl than slicing Cheddar and Cheshire 9-5.
In the end, I worked sufficiently hard at English to become a cub reporter at the South Yorkshire Times in Mexborough. Designated patch: Rawmarsh. And she thought cheese was bad?
Ever since, I’ve been chuntering on about something or other in print. In the early years, I wrote on a sit up and beg typewriter like the one allegedly used by Michael Parkinson, which was kept on a shelf for all to see and aspire to. We had little bits of paper to type on and stacks of ribbons and Tipp-Ex in our drawers.
Then the industry went new-age, our words appeared on computer screens and hundreds of printing workers disappeared along with the Tipp-Ex.
It did take time to get your head around it. I remember many of us insisting on writing everything out in rough in a notebook first. We needed the familiarity, plus the ability to scribble out mistakes and add bits in with little arrows of biro.
Only when we knew we could trust them did the delete, copy and paste keys come into their own. Google is now my bible, full set of Encyclopedia Britannicas, medical journal and unpaid researcher. Yet it took a couple of fresh-faced ofice juniors to convince me it was The Light and The Way.
Since then, there have been many hi-tech twists and tweaks to the editorial system; big things to get a middle-aged head around. I’d found it hard enough with DVD-players. And now here’s the latest news; I’m to add an entirely new medium to my writing repertoire: Twitter. I have to start tweeting or face being shot out of the sky by some young social media whizzkid, index finger on the pulse of an iPhone.
And suddenly, after all these years of cheerfully ramming my opinions and general ramblings down your throats on a daily basis, I feel all nervous. It’s not so much how to do it, as what on earth to say that would be witty or trendy enough for Twitter.
There needs to be another version for the middle-aged. We could call it Witter and whittle on to each other about the weather, the shocking cost of first-class stamps and which bodily part we’ve got a twinge in now.
Plus size is a huge issue; I’m a 1,400-word woman. For the last 34 years my motto has been ‘Never mind the quality, feel the width.’ In a tweet, I’ll have just 140 characters in which to inform and entertain and I refuse to do text-speak or forego grammar.
I shall become a disciple (is that the right word?) of the big Twits, Stephen Fry, Sarah Brown and Demi Moore and get tips. In the meantime, do help an ageing hackette to avoid the hatchet and tweet me a topic.
I’m @jodavisonstar (I think).