I’m not a fan of the starling chatter of Twitter. There’s only one person I’ve ever enjoyed following and that’s the brilliant journalist and self-proclaimed “womanist” Deborah Orr, who died on Sunday morning. Deborah was as trenchant, funny, truthful and idiosyncratic in her tweets as she was in person; hence her 63,000, mostly female followers.
Starting the day with a Deborah Orr tweet was like smashing the ice for a bracing five-second dip. A typical example might be her riposte to the news story about Maurizio Cattelan’s stolen artwork – a gold lavatory – that was nicked from Blenheim Palace: “Imagine a world in which TWO people think a gold toilet is a thing worth having. Sighs.”
My all-time favourite was the more recent: “Morning. Orr lies in a bed on a small hospital ward, smartphone in hand. She is in perfect health. She is poised to begin the most cynical campaign of advance book publicity the world has yet known…”
The joke being that Deborah, whose hotly-anticipated memoir Motherwell is due out next January, had recently been diagnosed with stage four secondary breast cancer and the prognosis was dire. Deborah met the fiendish, returned cancer (which first manifested in 2010) by looking straight down the gun barrel, and had no time for sympathetic platitudes.