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 At the 19th


Rather pathetically, I must begin with an apology to those 56 loyal followers who have been waiting patiently for more than two years and have not heard a dicky bird from me. The last person in a busy newsroom to dump my old manual for a new-fangled electric typewriter, I have never embraced change with enthusiasm and, having only just got the hang of texting, I was nowhere near ready in 2010 when I foolishly signed up to Twitter.

“My mobile phone is lagging so many generations behind that it is now taking calls from its great, great, great grandchildren”However, urged on by friends and family who convinced me that my fascinating life which encompasses such varied activities as playing golf, watching golf and travelling abroad to play and watch golf, would be of enormous interest to a sizeable chunk of mankind, I tweeted once and then fell horribly silent. A child of the ‘50s for whom the pop-up toaster is still a source of wonder and bewilderment, I struggle with anything remotely technological and so my Eeprom-friendly, RAM-busting, wi-fi enabled, hi-tech son-in-law showed me the metaphorical wires and helped me with that historic inaugural tweet before uttering the extraordinarily non-prophetic words: “You’ll soon get the hang of it.”

He can be forgiven for thinking I would because, although I have never managed anything more technologically demanding than changing a light bulb, I have mastered the art of appearing to understand what people are saying when they are trying to explain things to me. Too shy and embarrassed to ask the sort of question I really need answered, such as “How do you switch it on?’, I nod, smile and furrow my brow in a knowing but misleading kind of way.

As I fall further and further adrift of the rest of the world in matters of electronic communication, I am beginning to feel increasingly anxious about the future and my ability to survive in it. My mobile phone is lagging so many generations behind that it is now taking calls from its great, great, great grandchildren. Apart from sending and receiving text messages, making and taking calls is all it can do. And if you think that’s all you can reasonably expect of a phone then you are as guilty of the same antediluvian attitudes as I am.

It was at the Open at Royal Lytham, as I sat rather bewildered in the media centre among my techno-savvy, fellow journalists flaunting the latest iThingies, that I resolved to make a renewed effort to drag myself out of the hickory shafted age and into the 21st century. Not knowing what fashion statement Ian Poulter is thinking of wearing today or whether Lee Westwood is happy with whoever has been appointed manager of Nottingham Forest clearly puts me at a serious disadvantage in the highly competitive media industry in which I struggle to make a decent living Rather than confess to my son-in-law that I hadn’t really understood what he tried to explain to me about Twitter and ask him to repeat it all rather more slowly this time, I instead went to a friendly neighbour who not only runs the IT department of a big finance company but also owes me a favour after borrowing my lawn mower last weekend. Like most high-handicappers I know, he is remarkably affable, hugely cheerful and was more than happy to pop over and give me intensive, one-to-one, Twitter coaching.

Although thoroughly rested and seemingly wide awake when he came round on Sunday afternoon, I nevertheless began to feel remarkably drowsy about seven seconds into the session. It wasn’t his fault but for some curious reason just the mention of ‘browser’ ‘hash-tags’ and ‘URLs’ induces an involuntary and colossal yawn in me. The same thing happened in Physics at school but then it was ‘resistance’, ‘ergs’ and ‘rheostats’. Despite the fact that I still find electricity absolutely baffling (for example, how do they earth it on aeroplanes?), I have managed to survive five subsequent decades reasonably well.

Now that I think about it, perhaps that’s one of the reasons I love golf. Unless you have a battery-operated trolley (which it won’t surprise you to learn I don’t), it’s non-electric and, although it can help you swing if you have a rudimentary grasp of a few basic principles of mechanics, you can easily play 18 holes without once being called upon to recite Ohm’s Law or calculate the number of watts it would take to raise the temperature in the clubhouse by one degree Celsius.

“You can point followers in the direction of your articles,” my nice neighbour informed me which, I have to confess, did arouse my interest. “Simply take the URL, bitly (sic) it, paste it into Twitter and then tweet it.” Simply?! My interest evaporated faster than the dew on the fairways on a hot summer’s morning.

The other big issue I have with tweeting is rather more prosaic in that a tweet is limited to 140 characters. Since brevity has never been one of my strengths, and I know from sending text messages that ugly abbreviations and deliberate mis-spellings cause me agonies of conscience, I suspect that, even in the unlikely event I ever did get the hang of it, Twitter might be an inappropriate medium for me.

But I am going to try and, although it might prove singularly unfruitful, you are more than welcome to follow me @cliveagran. However, if you hear nothing for the next couple of years, don’t panic as, God and the Editor willing, I shall always be here in good, old-fashioned, uncomplicated print.

September 2012

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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