diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 06, 2022

Just before Christmas I published a simple infographic summarising the sequence of lockdown restrictions over the last two years... a brief monthly snapshot of fluctuating curbs on freedom.

MarLOCKDOWN  → Step 1 
AprLOCKDOWN→ Step 2 
May LOCKDOWN→ Step 3
JulEAT OUT→ 'Normal'
AugEAT OUT'Normal'
SepRULE OF 6'Normal'

I found it a useful way of getting my head round how long all this has been going on, the ebb and flow of pandemic peaks and the astonishing range of vocabulary the government has appropriated to dress up their measures. But it wasn't an image, it was a table embedded in a longer post, so it was never especially shareable.

On Tuesday evening The Guardian's Media Editor took a screenshot and tweeted it. We both follow each other on Twitter so this was fine. "This is the most simple explanation of why everyone is feeling very tired after two years of this" he said, and then added a very kind comment about old school blogging.

Jim's tweet swiftly went viral, earning further traction from big hitters like Adam Boulton (formerly of Sky News), Susanna Reid (off Good Morning Britain), the Prime Minister's sister and at least one MP, as well as various journalists, academics, DJs, media types and members of the Great British public. By midnight it had had 1382 likes, then somehow passed the 5000 barrier mid-morning and after 24 hours had received 9682 likes and 2297 retweets. So that was nice.

It received quite a few replies saying "Yeah but it wasn't like that in Manchester" and "I wouldn't describe the months labelled “Normal” as normal" and "Except for shielders of course" but also "Seeing it mapped out like this really makes me understand why my mental health was in the gutter for most of 2021" and "Almost looks like there's never been a plan at all" and "God this is depressing" and "Thanks". Someone even created a Chernobyl meme version.

An unexpected consequence of this tweetfest was that a lot of people decided to follow @diamondgzrblog, my Twitter account which only tweets when I publish a new post. At the start of this furore it had 1354 followers, a total it's taken me five years to accumulate. By the end of Wednesday it had 2149 followers, which is a 60% increase in the space of a day and an astonishing uplift based on a single tweet.

Jim does have past form on this - his tweet about my Romford racist photo in referendum week somehow added 2500 new followers to my main @diamondgeezer account almost overnight. But 800 new followers to an automated blog-focused Twitter account is quite something, not least because I bet most people didn't realise what they were signing up for.

All that these 800 new followers had seen was one single coronavirus-related graphic (and not a graphic that @diamondgzrblog had ever tweeted before). Based on a sample of one it was a reasonable assumption that I might post pithy topical graphics on a regular basis, or at least focus on the wider issues of the day. Instead, as regular readers well know, this blog is an old-school smorgasbord of personal stuff, local reportage, data-bashing, trips to the Olympic Park and rather too much transport-related content. It's not going to be to most of their tastes at all.

As if to prove the point, the first post most of these new followers would see was an in-depth discussion of the National Street Gazetteer and potential anomalies regarding B road classification in Plaistow. This might be the kind of thing you come here for but you didn't sign up on spec based on one tweet, you've been here a while. These fresh folk won't be expecting a daily 7am tweet linking to whatever today's motley blogpost is, possibly with photos, they'll be expecting sizzling curated Twitter content. I wonder how many will never ever click on the link, or simply unfollow once they've deduced a London-based pot pourri is not for them.

Twitter's not even the best way to follow the blog, which is to turn up at diamondgeezer.blogspot.com at 7am and expect to read something new (or if you're more technically minded to add diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/atom.xml to your RSS feed).

It's the journalists among my 800 new followers I feel most sorry for. Admittedly I nearly had the scoop on the Abba Arena and I once discovered that Bob Dylan had painted my photograph of Blackpool Pier, but you'd have had to sit through years of mundane posts to have uncovered that. Also I should probably point out to the PR folk who've signed up that we're probably not going to get on. But hopefully a few dozen amongst the onboarding crowd of researchers, engineers, grandparents, students, creators, curators, educators, translators, hobbyists, producers, councillors, counsellors, writers, coders, runners, players, flâneurs, activists, volunteers and broader humans will discover something here they come to enjoy.

Hello if you're new here, and if you've managed to read all the way down to the end of this post I hope there's a good chance you'll consider staying around.

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