I have never been a fan of social media. 

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter, it has never appealed to me.

With my predilection for procrastination, I need another distraction like a hole in the head.  I have read enough about these addictive social media platforms to know that one impetuous ‘send’ on your computer keyboard can land you in a whole heap of trouble.

Especially late at night and more especially, if your opinion/sense of humour/ brilliant thought has been skewed by one too many drams of your favourite tipple. 

A rash Facebook message can lead to a fall from grace.  A hasty Tweet can end a career.  Worse.  A cruel post can wreck lives and on occasion, even end them.

When I was working on a television show some years ago, during one of those interminable sitting around lulls – an occupational hazard that goes with rehearsals – a fellow cast member, incredulous that I didn’t subscribe any of these social media platforms, opened a Twitter account for me.

It was very kind of her but a total waste of time.  I never got into it.  Couldn’t get the hang of it.  Twitter, like Facebook, Instagram and the rest, held no interest for me.  The account lay dormant.

Until this year.  When I started writing these regular musings…

I was suddenly bombarded with social media advice from all quarters:

‘Georgie, to direct people to your blog, you’ve to go on social media.’

‘You’ve got to get a Facebook page – that’s the way to publicise it.’

‘No, Twitter!  Immediate and effective.’

Whoa!  Twitter?  A bell was rung!

I have no recall which of my social media-savvy friends was my own Twitter feed but I remember confessing – ooh, that’s a Freudian slip, bit of Twitter guilt there – I’ll change that.  I remember declaring that I had a Twitter account.

With typical hypocrisy, I began using the dormant Twitter account.

Quicker than it takes launch a tweet, ie to press the ‘send’ button, I eschewed my self-confessed antipathy for what I have always called the anti-social media.

I didn’t get involved with all the chit-chat, some of which I found decidedly unpleasant. Twitter for my purposes was a marketing device to tweet the link to my weekly musings and hopefully garner more readers.

Whilst ‘Life in Laytonia’ hasn’t exactly gone viral – note, I’m learning the jargon – a solid number people have indicated they have arrived at my column/blog door via Twitter Avenue.

It is a strange place, the land of Twitter, but at the same time fascinating.

For me, it’s a digital version of Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, where on a Sunday morning anyone can turn up to speak on whatever subject they like.  With one caveat: as long as the police consider what they are saying/spouting is lawful.

As a young student in the early 60’s, I was a Sunday morning regular at Speakers’ Corner.  I would wander round listening to the gamut of speakers: 

The eccentrics.  The harmless/not so harmless crackpots.  The prejudiced.  The hilarious.  The fanatics.  The misguided.  And the downright dangerous, whom I tended to avoid.

Very much like Twitter.

A Twitter plus that contrasts with its sometimes acerbic side, is that people tweet the kindest compliments about shows that I have appeared in or written, frequently with long forgotten photographs and video clips attached that massage my (already overblown) ego.

This one for example:

Z-Cars circa 1964. Director: a young Ken Loach. Note the Gannex coat, as favoured by Harold Wilson

“Minder” circa the ’70’s – more memorabilia courtesy of Twitter

One of the nicest messages I received was from a gentleman thanking me for helping his elderly mother at an airport. 

You see – there is a gentle to social media.

Another appealing Twitter bonus is that – if you want to – it can reconnect you with people that you have lost contact with.

It was such a re-connection that begat this New Look ‘Life in Laytonia’.

I’m sorry?  You can’t see any difference?  Take another look…

All right, yes, same old photo, I give you that.  I was going to change it, but I don’t have the technical know-how and Ferdy, my tech man has gone AWOL – again! 

Try once more…

Oh, come on.   I’m getting a touch cross now.   Okay, I’ll give you a clue:

I Am Not A Number”.

Wow, there are a lot of  “The Prisoner” anoraks out there – I nearly got knocked over in the rush!

But you still have no idea what I am talking about?

Okay, I’m going to have to spell it out!

This is week Number 27 of ‘Life in Laytonia’.   Last week was 26.  The week before 25, before that 24 and so on.

The bold and underlining of these numbers is not a subliminal ruse to draw you there in case you missed it first time round. Although the crude self-promoting marketing side of me would suggest that that is not a bad idea.  

No, it is integral to the thrust of this week’s musings.

Starting with ‘Life in Laytonia’  27 – no, correction, it’s not a number – starting with this week’s unnumbered musing, I am going to invite you in with:

A Title!               

                             THE (ANTI) SOCIAL MEDIA, TWITTER & ME

It is so obvious.  Why didn’t I think of this before? 

In truth, I didn’t.

The suggestion was tweeted by a little bird, aka the distinguished award-winning journalist/writer/critic/presenter, Jaci Stephen.

I met Jaci in 1991 when she was the excellent TV critic for the London Evening Standard.   She interviewed me to promote a television show that I had written and was appearing in. 

With the help of Jaci’s skillfully crafted interview, my TV show – my baby – was safely delivered.  Sadly, in the hands of the inept midwife/producer, it went into intensive care, never to be resuscitated.

That, however, is a story for another day.  All will be told when those responsible are not around to sue me!

Jaci now lives and works in the States and we have reconnected through the better offices of Twitter. 

She writes a brilliant blog: jacistephen.com  and I urge you to Google it.  It’s terrific!

At my request, Jaci was kind enough to take the trouble to read my stream of consciousness ramblings and passed on this simple nugget:

“You need a title, to draw people in with something a bit more personal.”

Of course!  Everything has a title to draw the reader in.  Sit-com episodes, newspaper articles, even letters to the editor.  All the ‘Layton on Lockdown’ articles published in the Telegraph Online that spawned this blog, had titles.

How could I have been so unimaginative aka stupid?

Perhaps a more apt title this week would have been:

                                       CAN’T SEE THE WOOD FOR THE TREES