These were written for The Worthing Herald, from the present day dating back to about 2009. Before 2009, my parents clipped them out of the paper and kept them in a box file.
After 11 years I've finally decided to bring this column to an end, and so am VERY INTERESTED in a new weekly gig. If you'd like me to write for your paper, magazine, website or pamphlet, please let me know.
The Top 5 Things You Just Shouldn't Tweet (or Facebook)
A long time ago, the passing of a loved one from this world to the next would be announced by telegram. Just like Twitter's 140 characters, they too were adhering to a strict limit - yet somehow there is far more emotion in "AUNTIE MABEL SADLY DEPARTED STOP FELL OFF OUTHOUSE ROOF STOP BEQUEATHS YOU BEST HATPIN STOP" than there is in 'RIP Auntie Mabel, may you be the brightest star in the sky, you will be missed :(" written underneath a picture of you playing beer pong in a candy bikini top. Not until there's a dislike button, anyway.
You've got a bun in the oven! A little bundle of joy! Of COURSE you want to share the news with the world, as quickly as possible. So what do you do? Spend a day making phone calls to your nearest and dearest, so they can gush over the news with you? Hire a plane with a banner with your due date written on it to fly over your hometown? Nah, you change your profile picture to an ultrasound and regale everyone you've ever met with thrice-weekly updates on your morning sickness.
Now, I know the status-change is an unavoidable factor in a modern relationship casualty. There it sits on everybody's homepage, blaring "Lonely McNeedy is now single" with a little broken heart next to it, just in case people have difficulty envisaging your pain. But even Facebook has an airing cupboard for that dirty laundry, and it's called the 'hide' button. Meanwhile the accompanying status - letting us all know what a cretin he is, and how you'll be crying into a tub of pralines and cream for a month because the love you once thought would never end has now been reduced to a little fractured husk of hate - that's even easier to deal with. Just don't write it in the first place.
4. Weight loss
Reasons for this are twofold; firstly, for those who'd quite like to drop a few pounds themselves, it is irritating in the extreme to read that you've, omg, lost a stone! Particularly if they read it with a Magnum in one hand and a cider in the other. Secondly, for those unconcerned with weightless, it is embarrassing to have to read about yours. It's terribly un-British, like going on about how much you earn, or your bowel difficulties (prime candidates were I to make this column a two-parter). People then feel compelled to say something, but what to say? A hearty "well done!" may as well read, "about time, you lardy cow."
5. Exam results
I've been over this one numerous times in my head, and I'm sorry to say that I just don't think there's any way one can tweet their exam results with dignity. It's harsh, I know, particularly with degree results, when all you want to do is run throug the streets sounding a klaxon, naked but for a sash saying ALL THE CASH WAS WORTH IT (MAYBE). But self-congratulatory statuses will only counter the warm glow of your achievement with the chilly breeze of everyone secretly hating you. If you really can't fight the urge, change your status in the middle of the night, sit grinning at it for a few hours, then delete it before anyone sees.