I’M on a crusade at the moment — against drinking straws.

Some of you will have seen the horrendous footage online of a vet removing a straw from the nose of a sea turtle.

Thankfully, the procedure was a success. But the fact that this beautiful creature ended up in such a ghastly predicament in the first place is horrendous.

Straws are made of such low-grade plastic they usually can’t be recycled and most machinery can’t handle something so small anyway.

Therefore they end up in our oceans, posing a threat to marine life.

Wetherspoons must be applauded for its decision to ban straws from its pubs across the country.

Let’s hope other many other estab-lishments follow suit very soon.

In the meantime, join me in refusing a straw with your drink.

After all, it’s perfectly possible to drink a beverage using a glass and your lips alone. Try it and help save our oceans and those who live in them.

I’m finding it all a bit hard to follow

I WAS supposed to ring my mum last night, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Although she is approaching 90 and is at home of an evening — not being one for discos or nights down the boozer — I have to time it between episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and EastEnders again (why do soaps insist not just on being screened nightly but several times nightly?).

This week, the issue has been further complicated because I am now on Instagram.

Instagram, for my fellow Luddites who aren’t up with such things, is the new Twitter, which was the new Facebook, which is no longer the dope young hipster of the social media scene. It might be the new Flickr too, but I can’t be sure, because I don’t know how Flickr works or how it differs from Instagram.

Come to think of it, I don’t know how Instagram differs from Twitter — you seem to be able to share pictures and pithy little thoughtlets on both.

Blimey. I remember being amazed by email — and concerned that it would sound the death knell for the capital letter.

But I digress. Social media has moved on at such a pace that, as is probably true of most people of a certain age, somewhere along the way I got left behind.

I reckon it was around the time that Facebook stopped its status updates from automatically saying ‘So-and-so is’.

Which explains how I ended up in a bar on Monday night having a lesson in Instagram For Dummies by a younger and more social media-savvy friend.

It started out simple enough. You take a picture, you edit the picture to make it look better (nobody wants to see the meal you really ate, they want to see an enhanced version), write a little bon mot, add in a couple of hundred hashtags (#column #columnist #journalist #swindon #gettingborednow #howmanymoredoineedtodo etc) and press ‘share’.

But then the rules of engagement became far more complex.

People started liking my pictures and following me. People I’ve never met from all around the world.

Which was nice of them, but I find it bizarre that a complete stranger in Russia wants to keep an eye out for whatever picture I ping up next.

My guru told me I had to like some of their pictures in return as this is Instagram etiquette. This is the man who returned from an afternoon of falconry and complained I hadn’t ‘liked’ the Instagram picture of him with a hawk and therefore can’t possibly have liked it in real life.

Then, he said, I have to follow some of the people who are following me.

Then I have to upload more pictures with more hashtags, do more reciprocal liking and following and so it goes on, until I’m in some sort of enormous online camera club for random strangers.

Not only this, said Sir, but I should really try to upload a picture every day, preferably between about 5pm to 7pm. Apparently, this being peak commuter time, it is the period when most people are scrolling through their phones, just waiting for my pictures to pop up.

Which brings me back to Mum and why I couldn’t call her.

I was too busy showing pictures of handmade crochet purses to the global population to fit in a phone call before Emmerdale started.

It has given me pause for thought, though.

I’m not very active on Facebook and never Tweet, but I know many people are prolific on both, and Instagram as well.

So how on earth do they find time to do anything else?

Posting, commenting, liking, following, sharing... Not so long ago, these meant: putting a letter in the postbox, joining in a conversation, stalking someone, holding an opinion and being generous.

Now they all mean sitting still, oblivious to the world around you, while giving yourself RSI in your thumbs.

I can’t help but wonder, over the course of a lifetime, how many hundreds of hours of our lives will be spent staring at a screen rather than doing something possibly more useful and enjoyable.

Not that I’m against social media, of course. It’s a very useful tool. How else would you be able to see my lovely pictures of crocheted purses? If you follow me, I’ll follow you...

Let’s park this idea

I SUSPECT I’m in the minority these days, not owning a car.

After the last one blew its head gasket, snapped off its fanbelt and swanned off to the big scrapyard in the sky, I didn’t really see the point in throwing away my money on another no-good, gas-guzzling lump of rusting metal.

There are advantages to being carless: no insurance, no MoT, no sinking feeling as a suspicious sound/smoke/both starts emanating from the engine. And of course, no struggling to find a space and then parallel park with about a centimetre to spare in Swindon’s overcrowded residents-only streets.

Let’s hope there are enough people like me, then, to fill the flats at the tower block which is proposed to replace the Tented Market. In their wisdom, Swindon council officers are recommending the scheme be approved — despite the fact that there is no parking for the 15-storey block.

I can’t help thinking it will be another white elephant. After all, most people need a car for work, shopping, visiting family etc. And no one wants to park it miles from their home or pay through the nose in a public car park.

And if they expect people to use over-priced and unreliable public transport, let me tell you, that’s one of the disadvantages of being carless.