My name is Amber and I’m a blogger. I am also a Tweeter (or is that Twerp?). My mother is horrified at my public ramblings, my husband bewildered. My children think I’m vaguely cool if slightly embarrassing. Neither of these things are a new phenomenon for me – my blog is now five years old and I have tweeted for quite some time but I still find that the ‘why’ is foremost in folk’s minds when I tell them of my scribblings and one liners.
If you, like me, can remember the times before mobile phones, the internet and computers in domestic life, then you will also remember diaries and pen pals. Diaries were full of angst ridden ramblings about boyfriends and how much you liked / hated the boy next door / your best friend. They were written to be hidden, discovered by your mother and you were then dealt with accordingly. Growing up as I did in Ireland and learning the Irish language, I wrote a diary in Gaelic thinking that I had got one over on my mother, fool that I was. She merely got a friend to translate. I gave up my diary writing whilst living at home shortly afterwards.
Pen pals too were very en vogue in the late seventies and early eighties and I had several in far flung places. There was the unfortunately named Randy from the US who was a prolific writer of sweet nothings which to my early teenage eyes were the stuff of true romance and a girl whose name escapes me from Colombia who kept asking when she could come and visit, much to the consternation of my parents. I can remember the sheer delight at the flimsy airmail envelopes with their myriad of exotic stamps arriving at our house in the middle of nowhere and I absorbed every tiny detail of their lives which seemed so much more interesting than my own.
Fast forward thirty or so years and my life of writing to people and keeping a diary have changed very little. Except that I predominantly do it now through the wonders of the internet. And as for the ‘why’, well let me tell you. There are two reasons really. The first is that I love to write. I am certainly no professional but I love the feeling that the written word can give you. It is the being able to express oneself in words and in the case of my blog, see the pleasure that those words give to others. I have a notion to write a book but I just never seem to get round to it.
The second is that I have ‘met’ some amazing people through my blog and through Twitter. When you live, as I now do, on an even smaller island, it is wonderful to be able to discuss cookery with a New York housewife, find out where to buy a copper frying pan just like the one in the blog about Rome, talk photography with Leanne in Australia or follow the exploits of Mary Ann in the Rockies. I have also, through the power of blogging, adopted a cat, taken bookings for our holiday home, been sent gifts, won prizes and gained a gay best friend (albeit virtual) which every girl should have. Blogging has given me confidence in my writing, my gardening, my cookery and my photography and my virtual friends have been supportive and encouraging. Some of us have been communicating for years and have moved from the blogosphere to Facebook and Twitter where we now share a greater intimacy of family life and photographs.
Twitter is a different beast for me and I’m more of a ‘Tweep’ than anything else. I am fascinated by what people have to share with the world and at times why on earth they think it might be interesting to anyone at all. I follow a diverse crowd, from the very famous in Stephen Fry to local news sites and even my ex husband. Handily I can also skulk around the virtual world and spy on my children surreptitiously… My very favourite Twitter buddy is Nigel Slater and he and I converse, not as you might imagine about cookery, but about our gardens. We muse as to whether Monty Don has staff, the virtues versus the vices of the Strawberry plant (squatters you can eat he calls them) and bemoan the weather. I think that it’s very likely that he is a polite Twitter responder and I am not alone in my conversations with him but I am childishly beside myself with delight when his reply pings back to me.
To the non believers like my mother – yes I know that these ‘friends’ are people I have never met and am unlikely to. But does that really matter? If we are like minded or even if we’re not, I find their opinions, hobbies, countries, education and conversation enlightening, enriching and stimulating. Their advice on subjects from photography to sewing with some cookery on the side has been invaluable and I am grateful for their comments and observations. It just goes to show, the seventies might be long gone, but diaries and pen pals are still alive and kicking. And long may it last!