Ah, the joy of Twitter! Still not a phrase that trips lightly off everyone’s tongue but in my case (with the very occasional exception), Twitter has been a revelation; the breadth of contact, the scope of exploration, associating with a group of like minded individuals with an enthusiasm not just to explore the fineries of the whisky experience, but simply to connect, to share, to enjoy each other’s company without any geographical shackles, has been a hugely positive experience. The primary driver for me to become involved was to connect with fellow whisky passionistas and to deepen my knowledge of all things whisky. This remains the primary driver but I have come to enjoy those moments where I move out of the whisky domain and into other arenas. Getting to know the people behind the whisky has been (and continues to be) extremely enjoyable.
For me, the interpersonal connection is one of the most seductive elements of the Twittersphere. It is no exaggeration to say that the experience has, in some small way, strengthened my belief in the essential goodness of humanity. Yes, there are exceptions, yes, there are some thoroughly reprehensible individuals in this world, yes, I may be labelled as somewhat naive, but it is what I believe and as such, for me, it is valid. When my mum died last year I posted a short statement saying that I was raising a glass to her memory. Within minutes there were a flurry of condolences and people raising their glasses to someone they had never known. “Any excuse for a drink” I hear you cry! But for me, at that moment, I was able to forget any cynicism......and it felt good.
I may muse on the philosophical elements of the Twitter experience later but for now I simply wish to revel in the sheer diversity and “surprise journeys” that I have taken during my time on this medium.
In terms of this exploration, I will use my tweet/tweet responses to illuminate the area being addressed. I don’t feel comfortable include other tweeters’ writings without their permission and, whilst I don’t feel that they would object, to seek their permission would take an inordinate amount of time. I will include a “list of protagonists and suffice it to say that those referred to in this piece fall into the category of “twitter friends”. The snapshots that I offer do not tell the full story of their valuable and continued contribution to the whisky fabric (* see footnote).
With regard to diversity where do I begin? Twitter has transported me into my childhood, into imagined futures, into alternatives presents, into cultures that I was ignorant of, into the homes of people from all 23 corners of the globe, into their eating habits, their pastimes, their jobs etc. It all sounds somewhat voyeuristic but that’s not the feeling that I take from it. These are shared connections, information offered freely, often stimulating, generally interesting, occasionally irritating, and frequently amusing. If you don’t like what someone posts, a flick of the thumb and you can skip on ahead (digital democracy if you will).
Twitterthread no 1: “You can’t prosecute a whale for having a shit”
This particular thread began with an innocuous request for information, but ended up taking the protagonists on a journey through the surreal, the slightly vulgar, elements of International law, the fashion industry, illuminations from the natural world, and questions around the logistics of faecal collection. Jon Beach (@maltwhiskybar) initiated the thread. I was immediately hooked as, coincidentally, I’d seen the object in question on a nature programme only two days earlier.
The protagonists: @whiskyrepublic; @maltwhiskybar; @OliverKlimek; @wimvlonhuijsen; @galg; @Whiskylassie
The comments in parentheses were not included in the original thread but have been added as context for this post.
Question: @maltwhiskybar There's someone in our Coffee Shop with a lump of this. It's incredibly expensive. Anybody care to guess what it is?
triple folded omelette (good guess)
It's an animal by-product. (narrowing down the options)
It's not for eating! (see previous comment)
Then it could be a geode (...getting intellectual)
Methinks it comes from a whale...Ambergris perhaps (ah...now let’s move on)
If it can be verified as ambergris it could be worth a fair amount of money! (capitalism...filthy lucre with a nod to the need for accuracy and fairness)
He's getting it checked this week. It stinks! Really stinks! (oh dear....a change of direction is on the way!)
Some discussion as to what “ambergris” actually is ensued. There was a little debate as to whether it was whale poo, snot, puke or sperm!
It can be puke or shit. Heavily sought after in the perfume industry. Needs to be chemically ratified. (a combination of technical information using language from the gutter, connection to a global issue, and a need for scientific rigor)
omg!? It's whale vomit??? (the horror....the horror)
Stale whale shit is dabbed on ladies faces to enhance their attractiveness! (let’s get surreal....)
Better for your face than any cucumber mask! (the surreal and the real combining to strengthen the surreal imagery)
I can't afford ambergris, I use dried squirrel shit. (What!...where’s this come from? The thread is heading South!)
I'll stick with kopy luak (back to the intellectual with clear knowledge of the natural world.)
Is kopy luak Israeli for squirrel shit? (I’m not done with exploring my squirrel shit!)
hell no. It's the shit of those Sumatran cats coffee (sounds surreal but it’s not!)
By "Sumatran Cats" do you mean hip & trendy Sumatrans? (There’s a punster at work here, probably in his/her early 50’s with fond memories of free love and the late 60’s early 70’s)
Selling it could be a problem. Isn't this stuff essentially outlawed? (Back to serious, filthy lucre, and the law!)
Don't think so xxxxx. You can't prosecute a whale for having a shit! (Hello surreal, goodbye serious!)
It's a different story with Bears in the woods! (Interesting addition! Are we entering the realms of the philosophical?)
You could make aftershave from stale bear shit - "Grizzly - pour homme" (Apparently not!)
Trade is supposedly prohibited due to Washington Treaty. Whale hunt etc. (But I want this to become an exploration of global trade, capitalism, the necessity for regulation in a world gone mad!)
How big would a whale "pooper scooper" have to be? (I WANT IT TO BE SURREAL!)
The thread itself is very short when transcribed but you have to bear in mind that the “conversation” may span hours or even days, with time zones often playing a part in when people are able to contribute. As with many Twitter threads, the humour, in part, derives from the time lapses, and the point at which different protagonists pick up the thread. Sometimes it’s like the “Two Ronnies” Mastermind sketch where the contestant answers the question before last. (I'm also aware that some of you may have found this post to be completely devoid of humour, but hey ho, you can't please all the people.......)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvmRI6K8TS8 (watch and enjoy)
I first came across the term “whisky fabric” in my twitteractions with @Whiskylassie (Johanne McInnis), valued friend and one of the most passionate of the “twitterdrami”