After causing a storm on Twitter, Andy Dawson is making waves with a book of his vitriolic rants against all that he deems ridiculous, such as man buns and cat pubs. He talks to Sarah Millington

MEETING Andy Dawson in the flesh, he is surprisingly benign. Quietly spoken, and with a distinct Sunderland accent, he seems a typical 44-year-old father of two. Could this really be the voice of Get In the Sea, a foul-mouthed tirade against all that is mad and bad about modern life? Apparently so.

Andy admits to not quite living up to the persona he has created. “When I’ve met people, they’ve said, ‘You’re not as angry as I thought you would be’,” he says. “It’s probably partly an attention seeking thing because I realised quite early on that Twitter would be useful in terms of work and getting my writing out there for people to see. I realised I would have to be a bit overt and out there.”

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That’s not to say that Andy isn’t exercised by the torrent of mindless “content” he sees every day on Twitter. An avid Tweeter, he got to the point where he realised that his own output was becoming increasingly dark and negative. He decided to set up a separate account as a vehicle for his venom, and Get Into The Sea was born.

“I’d been going through quite a stressful period with money and work and I realised that my Tweets were getting a bit angrier and I thought I probably needed a separate outlet for all this anger and bile and that people wouldn’t want to read this relentless tirade of stuff,” says Andy, a Sunderland-based freelance writer. “I’d seen people using ‘Get In The Bin’ for things they hated and also ‘Get In The Sea’. Get In The Bin as a Twitter account wasn’t available, but Get In The Sea was. I started a new account and started doing these sweary outbursts against things that annoyed me and irritated me and it snowballed from there really.”

Now on both Twitter and Facebook, Andy introduces an item or concept – say, bow ties that resemble food – and, in no more than 140 characters (the limit for a Tweet), including at least one obscenity – explains in unequivocal terms why he thinks it should be relegated to the depths of the ocean. He uses block capitals for effect and writes as an omniscient authority, never entering into discussion with contributors, who take great delight in commenting on his suggestions, sometimes venturing that Get In The Sea should heed its own instruction.

For Andy, the swearing is essential – “There’s nothing better than a well-deployed swearword to make a point,” he says – and reading both his and other contributors’ entries, you can see what he means. This isn’t the mindless effing and blinding of the ignorant or unimaginative, but the precise use of language to achieve a very specific effect. It mightn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but as a comedy device, there’s no denying that it works.

In the early days, when people didn’t know who was behind Get In The Sea, there was speculation on where the writer was from. Invariably, people guessed somewhere up North. “I think it is a northern sense of humour,” Andy concedes. “I guess I’m just a product of the environment. It’s that almost bluff, straight-talking northern thing. I don’t think there is a definition of what northern humour is, but if people want to call it that I’m all right with it.”

Part of what makes Get In The Sea work is Andy’s perspective as a non-southerner able to spot and highlight things that, to many Londoners, for example, might seem normal. His subjects range from the odd to the outrageous, with common targets including hipsters and anything deemed to be infantile. The one rule is that he doesn’t pick on those who don’t deserve it, focusing on those in power and attention-seekers.

“It’s anything that sort of provokes a gut reaction, a revulsion almost,” says Andy. “Hipster nonsense like the cereal café that appeared in London and anything to do with beards, like beard oil and a beard bib. Also pop-up restaurants – there was one called Come Fry With Me which was an aviation-themed chip restaurant and the staff wore air hostess uniforms. It was almost as if they came up with the name first and tried to shoehorn the restaurant into it.

“One of the other recurring themes is infantilisation – companies which have offices with ball pool rooms and a park in Hackney that closed down for the day to children so they could have an adults-only day. It’s this generation that’s growing up now that doesn’t seem to want to let go of their childhood, for whatever reason. I don’t know whether that’s because we’re living in quite dark times.”

Having embarked on Get In The Sea as just a “punt” among many, Andy soon realised that he had struck a chord. He now has 350,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook combined and is inundated with suggestions for what should be despatched seaward. After just three months, he was approached by Penguin and has written a book based on the original Twitter feed, with Andy’s outpourings the sole content.

Though sales haven’t quite gone through the roof, it’s doing respectably enough, with four-and-a-half out of five stars on Amazon and endorsements from comedians Bob Mortimer, who hails from Middlesbrough and with whom Andy works on the podcast Athletico Mince, and Kathy Burke, whom he befriended on Twitter. Critics have compared him with the TV personality Karl Pilkington, also known for being blunt and northern, and Andy wouldn’t mind treading a similar path. “I would love to be a couple of quid behind it,” he laughs. “It would be great to do some TV stuff.”

In the meantime, he has the book to promote, with forthcoming readings at The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle, on August 23, and Kings Place, in London, later in the year. Andy, who once Tweeted in the guise of Princess Diana and ghost-wrote the autobiography of the monkey from the PG Tips ads, describes his career as “swinging from the jungle from vine to vine and hoping something will come along”. At the moment, he has all his fingers crossed. “It’s just all going nuts at the minute,” he says. “It’s great. I can’t complain at all.”

Get In The Sea!: An Apoplectic Guide to Modern Life by Andy Dawson (Penguin, £9.99)

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