Month: October 2019

Why I want to write a book called ‘#funwithhashtags’

My most recent obsession is a TV programme on Channel 4 called The Circle. There are many reasons why I like this programme: it’s entertaining, it has a psychological depth that isn’t immediately apparent, it speaks volumes about the loneliness (or, ironically, otherwise) of online engagement, and it is all about having fun with hashtags.

The Circle

I haven’t really used hashtags much before. I have only just about got to grips with the point of them on the likes of Twitter and Instagram. And I have only used them sparingly and with much consideration of how useful they will be. That is, until recently. They have been using them on The Circle without their proper purpose in mind and this fact I find fascinating.

Hashtags, just in case the reader of this blog doesn’t know, are joined up words fronted by a hash symbol (#) which then become searchable on social media and the Internet in general. If you type in, for example, #thecircle into the search box in Twitter you will see a whole stream of tweets that have recently been posted with #theccircle in them.

In The Circle, however, the messages passed between the contestants are not searchable. Their online engagement is fake. It isn’t linked to the Internet. Yet they use hashtag language at the end of most of their messages.

So, this weird habit of not using hashtags properly is catching, and I have started to use them with my WhatsApp messages to my two sons. It is driving them bonkers. Result. They don’t understand why I am doing it, as my hashtag phrases are not searchable. I have acknowledged that. But it is still fun #windingchildrenupisfun. I just love finishing sentences with a hashtag #smallpleasures.

Some of our messages

So what do you think? #sheisnuts #herblogsareweird

Where are they now and why do I suddenly care?

I know I have written about nostalgia here before, but the nostalgia bug has bitten me again recently. I’ve been thinking about the past a lot over the last few weeks. Perhaps it is my age. I am (reluctantly) approaching 50 (28 months to go and counting). I am in denial. Even typing that, seems absurd. Fifty? Me? No way! I’ve always been ‘the youngest’ (of three). I’ve always been the childish one. I’ve always been the fun one. I’m the one who doesn’t like adulting. This ‘child’ me is part of me and hasn’t yet gone anywhere. How on earth can I be approaching 50? That is just bonkers. That is old.

A university friend of mine and I have recently been playing a game we have named ‘cyber stalking’. This is a game where we try to find out what has happened to people we both knew at university (25 years ago) who have somehow disappeared off the face of the earth, not even appearing on that omnipresent social media forum known as Facebook. We have found a few old names / faces each and shared our findings. Paul Blew – looks a very young 47. Gideon White – has no hair now. Nick Johnson-Hill – looks very good for his age. There is no escape, it seems, even if you manage to avoid Facebook. These distant names and personalities we remember are there, if you google their names and / or locations, perhaps with less hair and more wrinkles and life experience than we remember than at 18. I find I am fascinated with finding these lost people. I need to know where they are and how they are, without actually getting in touch and screaming ‘remember me?’ at them. (No doubt they’d say ‘oh, yes, I remember you, the weird one who shared a room with Sara Jenkins and Caroline Whatserface’ And, while we are on the subject, where are Sara without an ‘h’ and Caroline now? I haven’t yet managed to find them. We slept in the same room for a whole year and they are now lost to me.)

I wonder if this need for nostalgia is normal at this age and if it is a sign of the approaching end decade. It probably is. That fact alone, makes me want to yawn, as someone who has always sought not to fit type. How boring, to be predictable! Perhaps I just need to admit that I have become that ‘middle aged’ (shudder) person and embrace this time of my life. So what did ever happen to Pete Butler from the top floor? Where is he now? Every time I hear ‘There She Goes’ by the Las I think of him, but I can’t for the life of me remember why.

This song reminds me of Pete Butler, but where is he now?

The joy of being pricked with little pins

I haven’t had a weird thought for a very long time it feels, and this isn’t so much a ‘weird thought’ as a desire to tell the world about a new, profound, yet completely unexpected experience that I’ve just had. I write this now, sat in a charming little bar in the small market town of Stone, sipping an Americano, just after the experience in question. Sipping coffee here isn’t the profound experience in question, lovely though it is.

My coffee

That experience I’m referring to is acupuncture.

I didn’t wake up this morning with the knowledge that I was going to not just allow, but actively encourage someone to stick a load of pins into me. I had no idea that this was going to happen. I did wake up, however, with the knowledge that I was finally going to see a physiotherapist about a niggling arm pain that I’ve had for two years.

I thought today would entail a load of forms, a few pokes and prods, a lot of ‘hmmms’, ‘oh dear that is bad’s, and some ‘go away and do this over and over again’s, I didn’t expect to leave an hour after arriving feeling not only simultaneously energised and relaxed, and in much less pain (not completely cured, don’t get too excited), and as if I were floating on the cloud of mental well being. It was just one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had, second to hypnotherapy and interestingly very similar.

I didn’t quite have this many pins stuck in me

I have had this niggling arm pain for so long that it has become the norm. I assumed it was old age. It wasn’t, it was ‘tenderness of the rough cuff’ or something like that. It is a real thing, not just old age. That’s not the exact wording of the diagnosis but anyone in the know reading this will be able to work out what I mean. It is treatable. It isn’t something I have to live with. I should have done something sooner. I am a bit of an idiot for not.

The treatment  today (after the predicted forms, prods and ‘hmmm’s) involved acupressure (and that was also bizarrely painful yet pleasurable) and then acupuncture (no pain, no discomfort, but a sensation of enormous well being). The acupuncture involved me lying on my stomach, with pins placed at various points, my head poking through a strange hole, staring at the carpet, and being left with Ken Bruce for company for 20 minutes. I did quite well at Pop Master today (no Captain Sensible did not sing ‘Spread A Little Happiness’, it was Sting of course).

Ken and cat

I also have to do some exercises, as I predicted, but I didn’t expect to feel this much changed in my mind and body. I will happily trot off home to do my homework.

I’m not sure what the point of this blog is except to say: don’t ever put things off, it’s not worth it, and if you ever get the chance to have someone stick pins in you – go for it. It feels better than a double gin and tonic and without the hangover!