Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Tweet me; text me...just keep in touch!

So another day of snow; another day of school closures for thousands of pupils across the UK. And the re-opening of that debate on whether head teachers shut up shop too easily these days when local roads look slippy.

It`s a discussion that`s been aired on radio shows up and down the country, not least on Jim Hawkins` BBC show here in Shropshire--with a mixed response, as ever. Some parents are clearly pleased that authorities are erring on the side of caution. Others referred to their own school days, where you never got a day off, come hell or high water.

My point was this: would head teachers have thought about declaring it a `snow day` more readily `way back then`.... if they`d been able to? Today`s heads can send out a mass text to parents.They can use Twitter or a Facebook group. They can call their local radio station--and thousands of people get the message in no time at all. Teachers a generation ago, couldn`t spread the word like that. You could hardly have hundreds of pupils yomping through the drifts to a `not today, thankyou` sign on  the school gates.So it was business as usual. Complete with iced up mini milk bottles. (Did you use to put them on the classroom radiator to defrost, too? Yeuuuch.)

According to OFCOM, 92 per cent of UK adults have, or use a mobile phone. Many of those have a connection to the internet too. I`m a complete convert; a communications junkie. When I think about life without a mobile,and more particularly, my i-phone, I think of the dark ages. The terrifying night hours stranded in laybys in my clapped out little white mini. Not being able to find help.People not knowing I needed help.

I want to stay connected when there are problems, parties, offers of coffee and cake in town. All of this. I love that Shropshire`s hospitals are tweeting information about appointments today, and that Karen Higgins retweeted the messages, in case you missed them.

Train companies are using social media creatively too. Not just letting you check timetables, but linking you to real people while you`re on the move. I travelled to London from Stafford one Saturday morning a few months back--and idly mentioned on Twitter that even though I was in a (cheap) first class seat--there wasn`t a cup of coffee for love nor money.Within a couple of minutes, London Midland were right back at me; asking which service I was on, and letting me know that within half an hour or so, there`d be a regular, slightly longer stop at a station with a coffee shop right on the platform. The tweeter was *almost certain* that there`d be enough time for me to hop off, sprint down the platform, queue for a flat white, and OK,a bit of cake,walk gingerly back without spilling any....and jump back on. It worked. It did involve a fellow passenger keeping a door open for me for a second or two...but I made it, and loved Twitter all the more that day.

I`m so keen to stay connected, that I often carry a mobile (yes, I have two...)  in each boot. If my left leg rings, it`ll probably be friends or family. If there`s a text from the right, it`ll be a query about my holiday cottage. See? High tech, me.

I know there are downsides.Plenty of people loathe feeling `contactable` the whole time, and love switching their phones off so they can get some peace and quiet. Who hasn`t received a `cop out` text from someone they`re due to meet? Easier than a call, sometimes.And who doesn`t feel just a bit irritated to get a text from a teenage relative, instead of a thankyou letter, for that gift you sent?

But for now, on this snowy day in January 2013, technology has worked well spreading the word; letting people know about decisions head teachers have taken in others` best interests, backing up vital messages on local radio, and keeping people connected.

And for now... my phones are where they should be. Quite what will happen if both legs start ringing, AND I`m on an ungritted pavement, heaven only knows. But at least, if I do the splits`ll call for help on your mobile. Won`t you?

    thank you and I love your blog every week! Its a fine read :-)

SaTH ‏@sathNHS

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