Letter From America

Last year I acquired my very own online troll from across the pond who accused me loudly and often of conspiring with her ex in a sustained campaign of hate against her. She ranted at me, sent me porn, reported me to the CIA and said the sheriff will be calling round to lock me up. The poor woman’s really not the full shilling. In fact, we do have a sheriff round these parts, the High Sheriff of Norfolk. Historically, a sheriff was an official of the crown responsible for a shire, the term being a contraction of ‘shire reeve’ (Old English scīrgerefa). These days the role is largely ceremonial in feathered hat, fancy dress and chunky gold bling for civic shindigs, grand openings and village fêtes. I can’t see the present incumbent knocking on my door any time soon. He’s far too busy cutting ribbons.

Eventually the avalanche of abuse I endured for weeks became a trickle, then a drought. My report-block-delete strategy worked, or so I’d hoped.

But yes, you guessed it. Just in time for Christmas, my trollette is back on the line with a new incoherent rant of around 900 words – same old, same old but minus the porn and threats this time. Oh, Marsha, how I’ve missed you – not.

There, Their, They’re

Our green and usually pleasant land contains an intricate patchwork of regional accents and dialects with a constantly shifting lexicon of words and idioms, syntax and sounds. Despite the endless yapping of mass media and the flood of Estuary English, you need only cross the street to hear a different voice. Vive la difference as they say in Belgium. I’m all for it.

But what I’m not all for is the laziness of so many users on social media. I don’t mean the use of text-speak and emojis – that’s the modern way. Nor do I mean the odd typo. That happens to us all. No, I mean people whose first language is English but who don’t know – or can’t be arsed to find out – the difference between two, to and too and there, their and they’re. It gets my goat and just makes the offenders come across as, well, a bit thick – or duzzy as they say round these parts.

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket…?

Let’s face it, if you’re plugged into the modern world your privacy will get compromised all over the place. It doesn’t seem to matter what privacy settings you tick on Faceache, the Tweety thing, Instapout or those endlessly annoying cookie notices, your personal information will leak like a rotting condom and sold on to the highest bidder. I’ve got used to the tedious online ads for stuff I’ve already bought, pointless cold calls from India, threatening emails from crooks, futile come-ons from ladies of the night, blah, blah, blah. But then this popped into my mailbox.

Is this for real?

It’s bad enough some trigger happy redneck is selling dodgy gun licences without the boring bits getting in the way like proper training or checks, but the failure to spell ‘amendment’ correctly is just criminal. Tut! Tut!

Tweety Porn

As we all know, Twitter is the social media platform of choice for ranters of every persuasion – from Tango’d ex-presidents to assorted nerds, nutters, non-entities and ne’er-do-wells. We now live in a society where public discourse is reduced to 240 characters or less and everyone’s opinion, no matter how stupid, is of equal value. Let the Twitter storm commence.

Twitter is also awash with explicit porn, from cheeky tweets from sex workers flogging their assets on OnlyFans – though maybe not for much longer – to swingers and show-offs looking for hook-ups or titillation. It’s paradise for voyeurs and exhibitionists alike and must have been quite handy during lockdown. I only tweet for business, but hardly a week goes by when I’m not followed by someone from God knows where waving his willy at me like it’s a calling card. Obviously, I try hard not to look.

Forever Young

Last month saw us in London for a very special commemoration. An old friend died suddenly in early 2020 and it would have been his sixtieth birthday on 25th August. We couldn’t let the day go unmarked so we threw him a boozy late lunch in Soho attended by twenty of his nearest and dearest. It was a bittersweet gala of drunken gossip and giggles tinged with huge sadness. Much wine was consumed.

Some in attendance are social media phobics and who can blame them? Social media has a great deal to answer for. But it means I can’t share any images of the party which is a shame so here’s a picture of him and me in happy times less than a year before he died.

Clive Smith, Forever Young