The mutterings of concern began at approximately 21.30 on a bitterly cold Friday night, and an investigation was soon launched; who had been the last to hear from him; where had he been; had he lunched earlier; was he due at a dinner we hadn’t heard about? One of our number suggested we send a search party into the night to scour Mayfair for signs of him, looking out for a tailored man asleep on a bench, brown brogues peeping out from the end of a Gucci overcoat spread across him for warmth. Yes, your Editor-in-Chief and perma-tweeting gadabout, Jonesy, had gone AWOL; had issued a tweet at 12.58 reading “Crazy night, 2 hours sleep, attempting cure for raging hangover via lunch at Hix”, and then had disappeared into complete radio silence. So, eight and a half hours later, Twitter was understandably concerned, asking: just exactly where was Jonesy?
If you follow him on Twitter – that incredible source of instant news, guilt-inducing time vacuum and office-in-the-ether for shirk-from-home types – you’ll know JonesyEsq’s every move, every morsel. Twitter is part of his discourse with treasured readers of The Arbuturian and the extended family of Arb writers, PRs, restaurateurs, barkeeps, and all-round good eggs. His 140-character conversational nuggets range from the offhand and innocuous – “I think it’s probably best for all parties involved if I leave the office and go to Selfridges now. This is for the best. This is a fact” – to the somewhat macabre – “Yet again, I have forgotten my gloves. Yet again, my hands have become mere twisted blue claws upon a frozen corpse” – to the downright disconcerting – “I’d like a slow yet violent death to be inflicted on people who stand like mannequins in the middle of shopping aisles, blocking access” – via the occasional blast of offensive ‘old skool’ hip hop lyrics, unrepeatable here.
It’s a complex and often alarming persona – but one that is much more chilling when it goes silent. Such murderous thoughts are best kept close, aired publicly and challenged quickly. If he wasn’t saying things out loud – or well, tweeting them – in a casual, self-aware manner, was he off doing something much more sinister – something he actually couldn’t tweet about? His absence was staggering, and having waited, and waited, and questioned, throughout that dark, freezing evening, his community – which perhaps includes you, if you’re a fervent follower – learnt that there are few things more unsettling than a silent Jonesy.
“Is Mr. High Society missing? This is unusual. Has someone checked the toilet cubicles in QV?” tweeted one concerned acquaintance, Ed Francis of Primrose Hill gastro-pub The Engineer – referencing the Soho members’ club from which Jonesy tweets often, generally while nursing a fourth or fifth Aviation cocktail. Steven Moore, dapper chap and a specialist on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, gave official confirmation that our Editor was “last ‘seen’ on Twitter 8 hours ago”. The Arbuturian’s Sophie McLean, shrewdly remembering that Jonesy had attended a fitting with his tailor not 24 hours earlier, ventured that he might have “left his phone on Savile Row”. As speculations became wilder and tension mounted, I, your humble Assistant Editor, realised it would fall to me to make the necessary enquiries to draw this investigation to a close. Dreading a repeat of the Malts and Masala morning after, I decided that action needed to be taken. We’d need to locate him tonight, and save him from the brink.
Desperate for answers, however bleak, I sent an urgent telegram (well, a Twitter Direct Message) to Lawrence – “Larry, J has gone awfully silent. Is he alive, do you know??!” – and received a reply in Larry’s baffled yet consoling tones: “He’s with me, having dinner.” “Well, tell him to bloody well tweet something immediately; his followers are worried,” I replied, sternly. Larry jumped to action – I have the chaps well-disciplined by now, as you know; I rule with an iron keyboard – and, sure enough, a few moments later, the hunters heard from the hunted.
“What the f*** have you all been snorting? I’m at a dinner party. Deal with it.” The tweet blurted onto BlackBerries, inked onto iPhones, and rang out loud, crude, yet reassuring. Order had been restored: Jonesy was somewhere, scoffing and irate, and still nursing that raging hangover, and we, his followship, had been put in our place. Some were disappointed: “There was a missed opportunity for an excellent yarn there,” sighed Ed. Sophie, caught up in the narrative possibilities, said with some regret “Oh dear. Game over. Could have at least pretended he was kidnapped to Timbuktu.” Stirling was much more sympathetic, offering a lenient “Excuse Mr J, he’s under a lot of pressure – specifically Aviations!”
My reaction was much less fanciful and much more cross – the sort of crossness that arises from worry giving way to relief – and I won’t repeat my rebuke here, but, needless to say, it turned the Twitter airwaves almost as blue as Jonesy’s occasional ‘ghetto’ tweets do; and though they are not so much 140-character as 140-asterisk, any tweet is better than silence.
Keep up with Jonesy on Twitter, if you can deal with it.
As the Editor (-in-Chief) of this most prestigious publication, I must conduct my activities with an air of sensitivity and understanding in the knowledge that what I say, do, write and tweet may be taken as being representative of the Good Ship Arb as a whole. Sadly, I am unable to adhere to this and I have brought our fine magazine into disrepute.
While a politician would immediately resign his post with a public apology and a somewhat jaded commitment to spend more time with his family and to uphold moral values for the rest of his pathetically grey existence on this colourful planet, I shall do no such thing.
Instead, I promise to continue to gluttonise day and night so that our dear readers will always know about the very best places to eat, drink and make merry. I will continue to spend a good proportion of my day at Selfridges in the name of research, and, although I am not exactly from the ghetto (“Straight Outta Hampstead” was a much underrated single), I know a good tune when I hear one, and I may well share that with you.
So, dear readers, follow me on Twitter if you like, but please don’t expect upstanding content. If anything, expect the unexpected. And the next time I go missing, it’s probably because I am disposing of a body.