Scratch beneath the surface of Twitter and you may be surprised to find that it’s not the sole domain of SEO experts, Justin Beiber fans and bots hawking pornography. The open, immediate nature of Twitter has made it an great platform for humour and debate.
So, as a breed given towards offering opinions, witty retorts and scathing insults, it was, perhaps, only a matter of time before Scousers would embrace Twitter. Well, we’ve a long history of letting people know what they think.
Having been vociferously heckled at (the Victorian equivalent of a Twitter storm) by a Liverpool crowd for staggering on stage drunk, the actor George Frederick Cooke shot across the bow, “I have not come here to be insulted by a set of wretches, every brick in whose infernal town is cemented with an African’s blood.”
Cooke’s crowd-baiting response was good – and, at 131 characters would have made the perfect Twitter response – but it serves to remind us that our part in the slave trade made the city a melting pot of different cultures, which have no doubt contributed to our enduring sense of individualism. Scouse not English, as they say.
But add the cult of individualism to Twitter – especially in this city – and you’d better stand well back.
Enter Joey Barton.
A search for his name on Twitter will reveal a constant tide of the most colourful and inventive taunts. His baracking came to a head on the last day of the season, not least from from a vocal Scouse contingent, when he was sent off for elbowing Carlos Tevez. One Scouser in particular led the charge.
“Lad, you play for a team that just survived relegation by an ant’s penis, and you’ve got the same amount of England caps as that David Nugent. ONE. Fucking David Nugent. Says it all. Thing is though, Nugent was born in Huyton too. But, guess what, he isn’t a bad disgrace to Merseyside.”
Barton’s various misdemeanors don’t go down well with many people, but no-one wants to see one of their own giving their city a bad name. As with all of his posts and tweets, @MrJimmyCorkhill writes the article in Scouse accent and dialect. Its humour is bone dry, but the writing drenched in a pride for the people of Liverpool and for the city itself.
The account, of course, is a parody of the Brookside character and while it’s one of the most popular Scouse accounts on Twitter – with over 28,000 followers – it’s not the only one this ilk. Not by a long shot. There are parodies of other Brookside characters like Tinhead and Sinbad. There’s a Scouse Judas Iscariot and a Moses too. There are multiple Purple Akis, the ubiquitous Liverpool purple wheelie bin, tweets from Bootle and Norris Green and a host of other personal accounts that are defined by their Scouse roots.
The most followed Scouse account is @JesusChristFTM. Many, I imagine, would be surprised to find out that Jesus was actually from Liverpool and an LFC fan to boot – though I expect most Scousers would tell you that they knew this all along. That said, I expect even Scousers would be surprised to hear that Jesus, “fucks the Matrix”. For the uninitiated, the Matrix is a unit of the Merseyside Police that deals with gun crime, gang crime and, as a result, drug crime. Judging by the number of ‘FTM’ suffixes, it seems the Matrix unit is not popular amongst Twitter’s Liverpool-based contingent.
Or at least for the most part. Because, low and behold, this disparately created semi-fictional community of Scousers has evolved to such an extent as to even have if its own self-proclaimed police informant, @localgrass.
A Scouse family has cropped up too. Local scallywag @DarrenFitz1 (he of the Norris Green Tweets), is constantly harangued by his drunk, chain-smoking mother @Scouse_ma. As might have been scripted, his parentage becomes a little less clear on the other side of things, with @Lpool_Docker and @Scouse_Dad both claiming fatherhood.
Other accounts to look out for include @PonderThePoint (Scouse and cynical), @ScouseDykeProbs (which, if you’re keen to develop your knowledge of metaphors for female genatalia, is the account for you) and @scousebirdprobs (the pained refrains of a young lady coping with the trials and tribulations of Liverpool life).
@scousebirdprobs is one of the most popular Scouse accounts on Twitter and, between appointments with her nail technician and San Tropez sprayer the young lady behind the account, and blog, was good enough to give us some thoughts: “I think the Scouse sense of humour mixed with intelligence is perfect for Twitter. We have such a quick wit.”
“What people don’t seem to realise is that you have to have a degree of intelligence and a natural wit. You can’t just churn out tweets about taking drugs and lash in a few swear-words and think that passes as humour. The main bread and butter of the account is highlighting the problems we all face but in an amusing way.”
“When I first started Twitter I was just like anyone else and completely in awe of the big accounts, but I’m curious and tenacious and soon got to find out who the people behind them were. The big accounts keep in touch with each other on DM and help each other out – it’s nice. Some of them I know in real life now and some I just speak to on Twitter. There would be some shocks out there if people knew the faces behind them.”
“I think Twitter has still got a bit of mileage in it yet but I’m under no illusion that this won’t last forever so I plan to relish it while I can. Just like MySpace was killed off by Facebook and really Facebook is in the process of being killed off by Twitter I’m sure someday something will come along that’ll make Twitter seem irrelevant but until then I’m happy.”
The common threads through all of these accounts are Scouse pride and humour, as Scousebird says: ‘People are always looking out for tweets that make them laugh. My Facebook page has hardly any ‘likes’ in comparison. It’s just not the same’.
The foul-mouthed back-and-forths, celebrity baiting and merciless put-downs give the whole thing a sense of anarchy, the flames of which are fanned by the anonymous nature of Twitter. In many respects, these characters are the chroniclers of the day: their condensed reflections every bit as representative of where we are, now, than the pages of the local press. But ultimately it’s all built on the Scouse principles of loyalty and wit and avin a fuckin laugh lad.
George Frederick Cooke can be thankful that Twitter wasn’t around in his time. The collective rounding upon an individual who offends Liverpool can be quite something to watch. Just ask Alan Davies. But, while only one of them has been around to feel the wrong end of Scouse ire on Twitter, it’s safe to assume that, in the eyes of Scousers, both might be wool.