I’m an information junkie. I trace the virus back to my teenage paper-round. Every morning I’d return home and scrub the ink from my hands, but I couldn’t do the same for the newsprint that had already leaked into my veins. Front-pages, back-pages, Telegraph, Mirror, Angling Times, Cage and Aviary Bird, I’d peruse ‘em all. This voracious thirst for facts would take many forms in my life. For years, I couldn’t turn on the telly without first visiting – in this order - ceefax pages 302, 101 and 540 (music and showbiz if memory serves, BBC2 only). With the advent of rolling news – and the passing of ceefax – I’d punch in 501 then 405, eyes roving across the screen, from news-ticker, to side-bar, all the while cocking an ear to whatever flowed from the newsreaders mouth.
Then there’s the newspapers and magazines. TS Eliot said that Prufrock could measure his life in teaspoons. I can measure mine in magazines. Roy of the Rovers. Shoot. Match Weekly. Smash Hits. Record Mirror. NME. NME, Sounds and Melody Maker. The Face. Select. Q. Uncut. When Saturday Comes. Word. And that’s only the regular ones. You can slot the occasional New Statesman, New Yorker (wanted to add New Scientist in there but honestly can’t) and Mojo in there. Not forgetting the staple Red Issue and United We Stand. Oh, and the odd Four Four Two too.
And the newspapers. A youthful dalliance with the Independent was soon extinguished when I settled down with the Guardian. Go on holiday – here or abroad – and my first concern is sourcing a copy of the paper. Have holiday’s been marred by me traipsing halfway across Devon fruitlessly searching for that morning’s Guardian? (Me: ‘But it’s the Media section. And the sport. And Charlie Brooker.’ Her: ‘Tough shit.’) Erm, no, course they haven’t.
And now there’s the internet, or more specifically twitter. I’ve never been an actual junkie, but I imagine that discovering twitter is rather like that moment when the discerning junk-fiend finds crack, the pure distillation of all your narcotic fantasies. How addicted am I? (just for the purposes of clarification: to twitter, not crack).
Well, in the time it’s taken me to write four paragraphs I’ve made six separate visits to twitter, adding to my stock of knowledge such morsels as the fact that the singer from Best Coast reckons that Rihanna in Kanye West’s ‘All of the Lights’ video is the hottest thing she’s ever seen (not disagreeing with that), and that UWS’s editor bumped into Dani Alves buying fish after Barca’s match last night. Oh, and @rioferdy5 (how long before he’s wearing that on the back of his shirt? I mean if Hernandez can get away with Chicharito it can’t be far away) is on his way to training, having last night taken one of his lucky ‘tweeps’ to see Usher with him (Nani was there as well).
You’d struggle –sorry Andy - to call any of this essential information, though at least all of those mentioned can look to decent sized followings to justify interest in their thoughts. What excuse for me and my paltry 70, a significant proportion of whom appear to be spam (I’m not convinced for example that Diana Lawson, who spends ‘her’ time aboard twitter imploring people to look at her ‘naughty pictures’ is exactly on tenterhooks awaiting my verdict on Gabriel Obertan’s ‘performance’ against Crawley or PJ Harvey’s new album).
Thing is, this doesn’t really bother me. My other addiction is using words. When I was younger and played football and the street was deserted, I could happily pass hours booting the ball off the side of the house or doing keepie-uppies (funnily enough I’d always stall at about the same place where my twitter follower count peters out). In my mind I was lashing last-minute winner after last-minute winner. In reality I was driving everyone inside mad with that endless thud-thud-thud on the side of the house. These days, in my mind every tweet is a perfectly chiselled bon-mot shaking the foundations of music criticism/football culture. The reality is another pebble pitched into the digital canyon; no splash, no echo, just silence.
And every now and again, 140 characters won’t do. And I post here. A bigger pebble, but precisely the same effect.