Well there we are. We’re off and running. On Sunday I’ll be travelling by DFDS Seaways from Newcastle to Amsterdam. The ferry arrives on Monday morning, but whether I stay in the city overnight on Monday or head off elsewhere depends on what Twitter brings me tomorrow.
Any self-doubt I had about this experiment was cremated within five minutes of today’s midday start. And there has been plenty of confidence lacking in the twelve hours leading up to it; my sleep was light and restless and I’d considered having the toilet seat heated and upholstered. But within seconds of asking for offers, dozens of messages were falling over themselves and inducing nausea.
Three strong offers came through quickly: an overnight ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam from @minxlj, a first class train ticket to London from @kierondonoghue and a flight to Paris from @flycheapo. There were plenty of offers of accommodation and travel within the UK, but I really wanted to be out the country on day one, for no other reason than to prove to myself I wouldn’t be marooned here.
The original plan called for me to choose from offers in my own time, no hurry, but the irresistible force of those following me – over 400 tweets were sent in less than 90 minutes – called for a swift resolution to proceedings. And in amongst the offers and the re-tweets, the battlelines were been drawn. How much free booze would it take to nail London? Could Parisian tweeps find accommodation in the city to secure my interest?
The thought of Paris scared me. I visited when I was in secondary school, and it rained a miserable, squawly rain every day. My French teacher Mrs Perkins had insisted we visit the Pompidou Centre rather than climb the Eiffel Tower: “The streets will be full of theatre, magic and dancers!” she yapped, in that dribbly enthusiasm all French teachers do. In fact the streets were full only of rain and piss-wet 12 year-olds wondering why they hadn’t visited the most famous building in Paris.
So not the strongest argument for ruling Paris out, so there was a need for a third party – Twitter – to keep me honest and make the decision for me. Those following were seemingly keen for me to live out their own drugged-addled fantasies of sexual deviance, because within ten minutes it was clear where I was going:
I had wanted the process to be as fluid as possible, so I could chop and change my mind over offers if and when it suited, but now I’m not sure the will of Twitter will let me. I certainly feel obliged to follow the bidding of my virtual masters for the time being. There was no need for a vote – the rules say I get to choose – and I’m not keen to straight-jacket myself into making every decision in a 60 minute window, but for now I’m happy to make it up as I go along.
Amsterdam in three days time, then. My journey means there’s no need for accommodation on Sunday night, so tomorrow the choice be whether I leave the city the same day or stay for the evening. Two days in the same location at the beginning of this adventure doesn’t feel too clever, but ultimately that decision belongs to everyone else.
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