In which I use more than 140 characters.

To be printed 10/12/09.

I have just had lunch with Chris Moyles.

When I say that, of course I don’t mean ‘with’ as in ‘at the same table’. Or ‘his being aware of my existence’. I mean ‘with’ in the same sense as Tonight With Trevor McDonald was ever ‘with’ Trevor McDonald, and Peter Andre was in love ‘with’ Jordan. Chris Moyles was in the pub, I was in the pub, we partook of the same air. That’s enough.

But that isn’t the exciting bit. The exciting bit, and I hope you realise I use ‘exciting’ in the very loosest sense of the word, was getting home to discover he had tweeted a photo of the very roast dinner we had just watched him eat. The same gravy, the same potatoes, the same clearly-Aunt-Bessie’s Yorkshire pudding.


Moreover, because of Twitter, we knew the entire course of Chris Moyles’ day. He had been woken up by the same apocalyptic downpour as us, then gone for lunch in the same pub as us, then gone home and watched X-Factor like us. He probably had the same indigestion as us, and sang the same rousing rendition of Uptown Girl in the lounge at 10.06 pm. Probably.

That is what celebrity means nowadays. Once a distant, untouchable entity, we now hold celebrity in the palms of our sweaty little hands. Technology has bridged the gap between Them (rich, mostly attractive, largely doing interesting things) and Us (poor, mostly unattractive, largely scraping the dried cheese bits off the sandwich toaster and eating them). I never even realised I wanted to live the same Sunday as Chris Moyles, but there’s a genuinely disturbing pleasure in knowing that I have.

You might remember that a while ago I wrote about Twitter, in a fairly derogatory fashion. I didn’t understand the point, I thought it would be boring, and that my friends and I would just post really banal things. I now understand the error of my ways. Twitter is not about the dull friends you already have. It’s about the celebrity friends you would like to have. “Who wants to know when Stephen Fry eats a sandwich and Holly Willoughby has a poo?” the sceptics sneer. I do! I really do! And you do too, deep down.

It can be disheartening though. Twitter is often like watching a party you haven’t been invited to, with your nose pressed up against the window. I mainly follow journalists, TV presenters and people from The Thick of It, who always provide decent diversion and witty comments to try and pass off in conversation as my own. But they are also, incredibly, ALL friends. Like a big lovely club of semi-celebrity fun, they banter back and forth on my screen all day, arranging dates and parties and super-witty events I’m not invited to.

It's become a form a slightly masochistic torture, watching Caitlin Moran and Grace Dent and Alexis Petridis exchange comedy insults at a rate nobody can when they have a proper office to sit in and a boss to read over their shoulder. They're the cool kids at school, while I eat my metaphorical lunch in the toilet cubicle and have to be partners with the teacher in PE. Which in Twitter terms means having your Dad, your hairdresser and a mystery man called Carluccio following you ("nice pics baby, u twit me sometime yes?").


Indeed, so desperate am I for fellow blue birdies to say my own inane things at, I am announcing a special offer: for every person who starts following me after this, and quotes the special code "Tunnock's Teacake", I will personally tweet a dedicated musical theatre lyric to brighten their day. Maybe I'll hit 50 followers and will be able to stop pining over Claudia Winkleman and Rebecca Front going to pilates together.

In the meantime, I’ve half a mind to take the details of one of these gatherings, turn up and slip discreetly into the conversation as though I’d been there all along. I will take a roast dinner and hope for the best.


* * * * * * * * * * 

I would like to end this week with an apology to Elsie, who was so generous as to furnish us with her views on the letters pages last week. Elsie, I am sorry. I am sorry that you have had to “endure” so many years of my tedious, youth-focused waffle. I am sorry that nobody thought to look over your shoulder, as you rocked back and forth in an apoplectic frenzy, and say “er, just don’t read them then.” I am sorry that after all this time, you have still never had a letter read out on Points of View (I’m just guessing). 

And I am sorry that you thought I was ageist. Elsie, if you can get out of your chair without groaning, then good for you. But frankly, some days, even I have trouble.