March 19, 2014

The Michael Vaughan challenge

Do you have it in you to follow him on Twitter?

Loves missing the forest for the trees © Getty Images

My name is Andrew Hughes and I used to follow Michael Vaughan on Twitter.

People think that following Michael Vaughan on Twitter is easy. If you complain about it, they call you weak. I once sent a tweet complaining about it to David Warner. He told me I was weak. He also said that I had scared eyes, which was a lie because he was 10,000 miles away and he couldn't possibly have seen my eyes (I think the eye-thing is just a standard insult with David).

Anyway, my eyes weren't scared; they were tired because I'd stayed up all night studying Michael Vaughan's tweets from February 2011 to September 2011 for my weekly Wisdom of Vaughan test. I got 46%.

It wasn't easy. Every day was a challenge. Sometimes I got so frustrated and angry with myself that I would bang my head on my laptop, just to knock some sense into me. To follow Michael Vaughan on Twitter, you have to be tough. You have to have a high irritation threshold. A lobotomy would also be helpful, but I couldn't afford it.

Am I being a little over-dramatic? Aren't there people working in hospitals, coal mines or Conservative governments who'd give their right arm to spend their day following Michael Vaughan on Twitter? Isn't it just a simple matter of switching on your computer and bathing in a stream of fascinating and enthralling anecdotes that only a career spent at the very pinnacle of sporting excellence can produce?

Well, yes. Occasionally. But a Twitter follower of Michael Vaughan has a lot else to deal with. There are the clumsily contrived references to a particular packager of water-flavouring leaves, the unfathomable dribblings about the obscure squabbles between a handful of football teams in some drab corner of Yorkshire, the wildly boring betting references, and the use of the word "banter" without any trace of irony.

I used to think that the secret to following Michael Vaughan on Twitter was just to work harder. If ever I found myself screaming at the inanity of a Michael Vaughan tweet, I would tell myself to scrutinise it more closely, as a disciple might study a koan set by a Zen master. A Michael Vaughan tweet does not easily reveal its truth, I would say to myself, it requires patience, wisdom and great intelligence to unlock.

I know now that was wrong. Reading Michael Vaughan's Twitter feed, I could feel my brain slowing down, my teeth starting to itch. I knew there was no way I could carry on. And so I unfollowed Michael Vaughan.

This wasn't an easy decision. I know there will be people who will look at me, shake their heads and say to themselves that at the toughest of times, I did a runner. I quit. What about all those other people who haven't taken the easy way out and even now are battling on, wading through those endless, self-satisfied tweets about Sheffield Wednesday, cut-price tea, golf, banter, Sheffield Wednesday and so on?

All I can say is that I am sorry. This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, but I've come to realise there are more important things in life than listening to what Michael Vaughan has to say. There's making sure you've got enough porridge, for instance, or cutting your toenails or varnishing your pencils, or making sure that your collection of Wisdens is in date order, or worming the cat.

So I have this message to all those out there currently following Michael Vaughan on Twitter: I feel your pain. But you don't have to suffer in silence. Talk to someone about it, seek help from a psychiatrist, or if you can't find a psychiatrist, a cricket journalist will do.

You may also find it helps to put your smartphone on the ground and then smash it into tiny smithereens with a cricket bat whilst shouting the phrase, "I'm not listening to you any more Michael Vaughan, get out of my head!"

At least, it helped me.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here