March 2012 Again


The twitters!

The Hunger Games!

It’s happened! It’s real! I am. On. The. Twitters!

It happened on Friday. Himself set up an account for me and I hadn’t a clue what to do, so he said that I should start gently, begin by ‘following’ people I love, see what they’re saying, see what people are saying back, generally see how it works. But being me, I wanted to get going immediately. How do you get followers, I said? We’ll put it up on the website (this yoke we’re on now), he said. So go on, I said. You’re not listening to me, he said. You’re going to follow other people first and see how it works. And I was a bit disappointed, but he was right because I DO have a tendency to race into things and get overexcited and oftentimes fuck it up and do it wrong. So anyway, I picked out 7 people that I ‘admire’ (ie am obsessed with) to follow. Tom Dunne from Newstalk. India Knight, author and journalist. Davina McCall, needs no introduction. Katy Perry’s blue hair, but as that wasn’t an entity in itself, I had to follow Katy Perry the person. Claudia Winkleman. Zayn from One Direction (I need to explain this, I’m not really a One Direction fan, being about 79 years older than their average fan, but when they were on the X Factor I was MAD about them and him in particular, the strop he threw at his audition, also he reminds me of my nephew Luka. But since that years X Factor finished I sort of forgot about them. But my head had gone blank when I was trying to think of people I love, in order to ‘follow’ them, which is strange because I love so many people, and I’d just read a piece in Friday’s guardian about how One Direction have gone down a storm in the US, so I said, Right, I’ll ‘follow’ Zayn.) Then I tried to follow Louise Moore, my very fabulous editor but she’s not on the twitters, nor is Liz Smith (also from Penguin.)

Then I tried Jason Schwartzman (have you seen Bored to Death? Oh, I ADORE. And Jason Schwartzman wrote the theme-music, which is the ring tone on my phone. More on my Jason Schwartzman love at a later point.) But he wasn’t ON the twitters. Nor was AA Gill. Or Mark Cagney from Ireland AM. But even as we were typing in Mark Cagney’s name, Himself was laughing and saying, “No WAY will Mark Cagney be on the twitters. Mark Cagney would think the twitters was a stupid waste of time.” And Himself was right! Important note here: Both Himself and I LOVE Mark Cagney. He has always been very very very very nice to me, he has a big heart, he’s a great interviewer, and although he has  - he’d be the first to admit it, I’d say – mildly curmudgeonly tendencies, they just make him extra funny and interesting. Big love for the Cagney from this household. Himself even more than me, I suspect.

So I managed to ‘follow’ 7 people (I can’t off the top of my head remember who the 7th was) and wasn’t exactly sure what to do next. Nothing, I realised. And THEN! Someone tweeted me! And not just anyone! But Tom Dunne from Newstalk! Tom Dunne whom I love with a passion dangerously close to obsession! Both myself and Himself were SCREAMING with excitement. We really were! And it was a very pertinent tweet, it was about how the bins hadn’t been collected on Weds night (something to do with St Patrick’s Day I suspect.) We were BESIDE ourselves. And then India Knight tweeted, asking if it was really me and I checked and I was, so I tweeted her back and she did something with a hashtag (ff? Follow Friday? Still quite at sea in this strange new world) and suddenly people were FOLLOWING me. Something like 163 in the first half hour. 270 by the end of the first hour.

Himself and myself were glued to the screen, watching as the numbers kept rising. At this point I became a bit overwhelmed and had to go out for a while so I went down to Dun Laoghaire and bought The Hunger Games. The youth who sold it to me had obviously sold about 473 copies already that day. When I asked where it was, he had clearly pointed at that same spot in the shop many many times already in the day. (Can I just say how thrilled I am that there’s now a section in bookshops called Dystopian Fiction. Since The Road, I’ve been more and more drawn to this sort of thing, both in books and films and am thrilled it’s now officially a category.)

When I came home, Himself opened the front door and said, “It’s over a thousand now.” It was sort of like watching a presidential election, as the numbers kept rising. Then Grace Dent ‘followed’ me (Guardian journalist, HILARE and very very clever) and the honour nearly floored me.

I still hadn’t tweeted anything to say hello and the more time went on, the more frightened I became. I wanted to set out my stall with something funny and witty. Also something that encapsulated my gratitude for all the love I was being shown. But I had performance anxiety. Then it was 5 oclock and priorities shifted. Caitriona and Sean had come home from New York earlier that day (for me Dad’s 80th next weekend) and they arrived, jetlagged and looking to be fed. As did the Redzers and the Praguers. The house was overrun for several hours and everyone was brought into Himself’s office to admire the tweet from Tom Dunne.

By close of business on Friday the number of followers stood at over 2000 and still I hadn’t said hello. The next day was Saturday and Himself went off at 6.20am to go to UK to the Football (Watford v Coventry, nil all) and I was ALONE with the twitters. So I chanced it. I just said hello. Two seconds laters I tweeted that it was St Patricks day and it wasn’t hailstoning and what had we done to offend the gods? Then people start tweeting me from around Ireland, with their hailstone stories. At this point I had to go to my AA meeting and I was late and I am NEVER late. As soon as I came back, I started on the twitters again. I DID manage to do, actually do the Davina exercise video, instead of just sitting on the couch watching it, but I spent the rest of the afternoon, into early evening, tweeting. For some bizarre reason that made perfect twittery sense at the time I decided to do a hailstone watch and collate accounts of hailstones from around Ireland. I even had a mild spat with a woman from Limerick because I’d accused Limerick of having hailstones, when apparently the sun was splitting the stones, but I’d MISUNDERSTOOD, when another person had tweeted saying that ‘it’s splitting the stones here in Limerick’ I thought she meant the bad weather was splitting the stones, not the GOOD weather. 

At this point I had to collect my poor mother and bring her to Teach a Ceili in the National concert hall, and I was late. AGAIN. Second time in the one day! I am pitch-perfect virgo who is NEVER late. Blame the twitters!

Mick Hanly was playing in the Teach a Ceili and my mammy, as a young woman, used to be ‘in digs’ (that’s what it was called when you were lodging with someone) with Mick Hanly’s family in Limerick, before she got married. And he dedicated a song to her from the stage on Saturday night! She was nearly as excited about that as I was about the tweet from Tom Dunne. Then Mick arranged for us to be brought back stage and he gave Mam a massive bunch of flowers and a copy of his book and CD to me to give to Himself. SUCH a lovely man, a lovely lovely man, and a beautiful songwriter and performer.

When I woke up on Sunday morning, I felt hungover, I literally actually did. Not from drink mercifully, but from the twitters. And all I wanted to do was start again! There, we are, proper addiction in action for you. But we were going to my lovely friend Judy’s lovely grandson Jack’s christening. All the same, I started tweeting, even though I had nothing to say, all I wanted was to tweet about how much I love tweeting. Then Himself caught me and told me to get ready for the christening. Also he said – is this true? – that people don’t tend to use text-speak on the twitters, that they use adult, fully-formed words? But this is KILLING me! I am so verbose (think that’s the word) that 140 characters is feck-all use to me! Feck-all I tell you! I have to squash as much in as possible, removing most vowels and all punctuation, to get anything sed. I mean said. F curse.

Also he said that I should only tweet when I had something to say, not just tweet about how much I love tweeting. So fair enough. I started reading The Hunger Games and god, I was ENGROSSED. Really really really really into that world. So yesterday, using full words, I tweeted that.

In the meantime I started watching the trailers for the Hunger Games and DESPERATELY wanted to go, so I looked up the times for the film of it – it starts here in Dublin on Friday. But on Friday, the entire Keyes family (there seem to be several hundred of us at this stage) are going away to a hotel for the night to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday and even though I was trying to convince myself that I could just about manage to get to the first screening of the day and still be in time for the birthday high jinks, it wasn’t really adding up.

And then! Something wonderful happened! Just now! Himself walked into the room and said, “Do you want to go to see The Hunger Games today at 4 o’clock?” “How?” I said. “It doesn’t start until Friday. Today’s only Tuesday.” He said, “Lovely Maria Dickenson at Easons saw your tweet about the book! She thought you might like to go.” So amigos, forgive me for my utterly jammy good fortune but I’m off to see the Hunger Games this afternoon. How lucky am I? I know times are so hard and it really doesn’t seem fair that the likes of me gets to go to a free movie and I really am sorry that the world isn’t fairer. What I’m trying to say is, I’m not gloating, I’m just grateful, very grateful.

I’ll tell you all about it when I get back. I’ll tweet it, will I?

Also, thrilling news for viewers in UK and Ireland – the Apprentice (UK) starts tomorrow night. Now that I understand the contestants are picked for their eccentricity, likeability, hateability or utter stupidity, instead of their braininess and business skills, it all makes sense. It’s essentially a comedy show, right? While I really enjoy the British Apprentice, the Irish one (and I’m not just being patriotic here) takes the biscuit. It’s not on at the moment but it IS possible to watch it on the interweb. Suzanne who lives in London used to watch it and it used to have her in stitches. I’ll alert you when it’s on again, but it mightn’t be for a while, it seems to be an Autumnal thing, like new boots.

I’ll report from the movie, I’ll report from Dad’s birthday. I hope all is well with you this Tuesday. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kindnesses.

Lots and lots of love

Marian xxxxxxxx

PS Here's my purple hair again

PPS Here's another recipe


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