One Hundred & Forty Characters

All about the One Forty and the big show in November

Character Of The Day: @MiddleClassHB AKA @_RichardBenson

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@MiddleClassHB AKA @_RichardBenson

“A few years ago when I worked on magazines I felt like quite a sociable person who was generally at ease in groups of people, but these days, working mostly alone in a shed, I can sometimes feel self-conscious, awkward and even tongue-tied just asking for stuff in shops or talking to people on the phone – every social situation a potential disaster etc etc. A bit neurotic/ridiculous, I know, but, well, there you go, whine whine. The 140 Characters session with Chris was a slight social disaster for me because although I tweeted under the name The Middle Class Handbook and had never actually met him, we did have several friends in common and have worked for the same magazines, so when he tweeted me I thought (alone, shed, neurosis etc etc) oh, maybe he knows it’s me and feels like we know each other by sort of proxy and that’s why he’s got in touch, very good, I’d like to meet him because of the mutual friends and also, to be honest, because I once read and very much admired a piece he wrote for Manzine about the Royal Artillery Memorial, but of course as it predictably turned out when I got to his studio he didn’t know the Middle Class Handbook had anything to do with me, so we had a conversation which, as I remember, was roughly along these lines:

“Hello, are you Chris?”

“Er, yes…”

“I’m Richard.”


“Richard Benson. For the photograph. We spoke on Twitter, or tweeted I should say.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t – “

“I do the Middle Class Handbook.”

“Ah! Right…”

“I’m sorry, we know some people in common, and I thought maybe that’s why you’d got in touch.”

“No. That’s not the idea.”

“Oh. Shall I leave it then?”

“No, we can still do the picture.”

And so on and on, the dialogue continuing like this for some time, until we did the photographs, which were enjoyable really, Chris being good at putting people at ease. In fact he was so good at putting people, or me anyway, at their ease that when he asked for these words about Twitter and the 140 Characters experience I felt well, whatever, I’ll just tell the truth as it comes into my head, he might be ok with that and anyway the words might thus implicitly demonstrate what is for me the great beauty and appeal of Twitter, ie the way its if-Oscar-Wilde-had-been-a-Spartan clarity somehow captures the stream of people’s thoughts and consciousness but also packages them into a quick and easily assimilable form, which is the form I would love my actual thoughts to have, as opposed to the one they do have, which as it happens is close to to the 2572 characters you may or may not have just read here.”


Written by Chris Floyd

October 18, 2011 at 7:05 am

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