Even by the speedy pace of life in the twittersphere, it was one of the shortest break-ups in history. After being called "boring" by a fellow twitterer, Stephen Fry shocked his near-million followers by announcing: "I retire from Twitter henceforward. Bye everyone." Twelve hours later, however, he was back, apologetic, and feeling "more sheepish than a sheep and more twattish than a twat".
It began when a blogger and film reviewer, who tweets under the name "brumplum", said to one of his followers: "I understand @stephenfry's tweets but, much as I admire and adore the chap, they are a bit... boring.... (sorry Stephen)."
Shortly after, Fry replied: "Whereas yours are so fascinating I can barely contain my fluids." Twenty minutes later, he issued his declaration of tweet retirement.
Fry, who famously suffers from bipolar disorder, later confessed he was feeling "very low and depressed at the moment". But as he took off on a jet to Los Angeles, the backlash began. Fry's followers attacked brumplum, real name Richard, from Birmingham. One told him he had "ruined twitter" and many accused him of homophobia, owing to a misunderstanding related to a comment made by someone else under the title "envioushomo". Alan Davies, Fry's friend and co-star on the television quiz QI, joined the row, calling brumplum a "moron" and a "wanker".
Those who came to the defence of brumplum were branded individually by Davies as being a "prick", "halfwit", "tosser", "moron", "dickhead" and "prat".
When Fry landed in Los Angeles, oblivious to the extent of the row he had begun, he was immediately apologetic. "I am so sorry to hear ppl have been abusing you," he told brumplum in a tweeted apology. "You had every right to say what you did. Pls accept my apols. This is so awful."
Brumplum accepted Fry's apology yesterday, saying: "Thanks. Can we all be friends again?" But he has also called upon Alan Davies to apologise. Writing in his blog he called Davies an "irresponsible idiot" and accused him of "working up the internet mob" against him. "I am more than willing to call him an irresponsible idiot to his face, should anyone accord me the opportunity," he added. Mr Davies is yet to apologise.
Fry's near-million followers were nonetheless relieved to learn he is not abandoning twitter. Among them was the Prime Minister's wife, Sarah Brown, herself almost as popular as the comic turned national treasure, with 910,000 followers. "Very glad that Stephen Fry is staying on Twitter," she tweeted. "His unique, entertaining and informative voice is much loved here."
Fry has talked openly about his bipolar disorder. In 2006, he made a two-part BBC documentary called Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. Brumplum, still somewhat shocked at having sent such a seismic shock through the twittersphere, was last night "going out now to continue with my real life".