In March 2010 I got some powerful friends together to help Save BBC 6Music. And they succeeded!
Some people, quite reasonably really, have asked me why I now appear to be some sort of weird creature, (actually an orang-utan), on twitter. There is of course a good explanation for this – or at least an explanation – so here it is:
The Story of How I Went Ape
‘The Librarian’ is a much-loved character from the much-loved Terry Pratchett’s much-loved Discworld series of books: think Harry Potter meets Monty Python. In fact before JK Rowling came along he was the UK’s best-selling living author, & I know who I prefer! I’m delighted to have discovered he is now on twitter: @terryandrob
The Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork is a city of which it is said “When a man is tired of Ankh-Morpork, he is tired of ankle-deep slurry.” The city’s ‘Unseen University’ – run for & by largely quite stupid wizards - has a great Library, the layout of which is “a topographical nightmare, the sheer presence of so much stored magic twisting dimensions and gravity into the kind of spaghetti that would make M.C.Escher go for a good lie down, or possibly sideways.”
In the second Discworld book “The Light Fantastic” (dramatised badly on Sky in my opinion – David Jason as Rincewind, I don’t think so!) a powerful wave of magic turns the Librarian, one Horace Worblehat, into an orang-utan. At the time the Wizards were too busy trying to avert the end of existence, as is usual in these matters, & so no serious attempt was made to return him to his human form.
After the magical dust settled however he found that he actually quite liked being an orang-utan. He had already developed a taste for bananas & peanuts – a very healthy diet – & had found that having 4 strong limbs with opposable thumbs came in very handy when climbing up huge book-shelves & sorting books. It also had not escaped his attention that a very large & very strong ape can make a much more convincing argument than a weedy wizard when discussing late returns. So an orang-utan he remained.
“What’s that got to do with you?,” I hear you cry.
Well, in mid-February I began a piece of work that I had been putting off for a while as I knew it was going to be demanding, time-consuming & quite unpleasant. Time was running out for its completion so I got on with it. The more I did it the more I hated it. It seemed to drag on forever, even longer than I had thought, papers were scattered everywhere, I was losing important documents, etc., etc. It also happened to coincide with the exact date of the 5th anniversary of the death of my father. My mood could be seen from some slightly surreal tweets I made at the time, for instance: “Evil pixies are following me around nicking my stuff”.
When I’m stressed I tend to lose my appetite. For some reason bananas are one of the few filling things I can eat when my appetite is off. I also have a bad habit of staying up too late (as I keep telling my wife, there are worse things to be addicted to). Hence the occasional tweet along the lines of: “Living on coffee & bananas. Have yet to decide if this is healthy”. And people think I make this shit up!
Then one day I tweeted: “Dang! Living on coffee & bananas again! I’m going to start living in a library, swinging around everywhere & saying “OOK” a lot at this rate”, referring to the Discworld’s Librarian. It occurred to me that there were worse things in heaven & twitter, & my virtual transformation began.
So I went a bit mad & became an orang-utan.
The Librarian was transformed through magic, Drolgerg through stress. As time & the job went on when I got too stressed I found it strangely cathartic to be able primally scream-tweet (new word by the way: I claim immediate copyright) “OOK”, virtually swing from virtual chandeliers & eat lots of bananas. It was strangely satisifying when 1 or 2 others who seemed to be in the same boat sometimes joined in! (Note to self: must blog some time about the cathartic & therapeutic properties of twitter).
The job was finally all over bar the OOOKing on February 27th, precipitating a banana-dacquiri orgy the likes of which the primate world had never before seen.
“So why are you still an orang-utan?”,
I hear you gasp, incredulously. Well, like the Librarian I found that after I no longer had to be one that I kinda liked it. It definitely has it has its advantages. When your life is reduced to the wonderful simplicity of when you will eat your next banana there suddenly becomes a lot less to worry about. And any time I did get stressed all I had to do was shout “OOOK EEEK”, a virtual universal language, swing from the light fittings for a bit then eat a banana. Also it’s surprising how much mileage there is in jokes about bananas & nuts.
So on February 23rd, up until when my avatar had been blacked out in the New Zealand laws protest (by the way – Go Team!) instead of bringing my face back I revealed my new apey visage. After the Facebook thing & 1 or 2 slightly weird instances on twitter I also became a little concerned about revealing too much personal information online, especially given the nature of my work. I decided then that the world might actually survive for a bit longer without having to look at my ugly mug on a screen.
I was also enjoying being a character-twitterer, having realised that character-twittering is one of the many tribes of twitter – of which ‘Uncle Dick’ @RichardMadeley is the Chief.
Obvious now isn’t it? Well OK then, suit yourself!
(When) will I revert to being human again? Who knows? For now, I’m enjoying aping about, & I still have plenty of bananas.
Oook eek eek OOOK!
Update: twittletattle has written about alter-egos on twitter here